What is business studies?
Business Studies is a field of studies that deals with the principles of business, management, and economics.
Business Studies combines elements of accountancy, finance, marketing, organisational studies, human resource management, and operations.
Business Studies is a broad subject where trhe range of topics ios designed to give the student a general overview of the various elements of running a business.
In Business Studies the learners will start by learning why business organisations exist. Business organisations exist to meet the demand of consumers who try to satisfy all their material wants, starting from the very basic like food up to the most luxurious item, such as an expensive yacht.
The subject covers how different activities are important so that we can have a simple thing like a cup of coffee. There must be the coffee farmer who grows coffee beans. Then these beans have to be harvested and transported. The coffee beans have to be treated, such as being roasted and then sold as beans or being ground.
Some of the beans are bought by large firms that change them into instant coffee. A lot of manipulation takes place to produce different tastes: caffeinated, decaffeinated, gold, classic, traditional, suitable for espresso or for cappuccino.
Even looking at the production of a cup of coffee involves many other activities: transportation, banking, insurance, deliveries, retailing. Not to mention that these firms need technicians, producers of machinery, the supply of energy, water and fuel, advertising, and so on.
Even the consumption of a delicate espresso or cappuccino cup of coffee entails buying a cup. This cup has to be produced, in most cases made from clay and changed into pottery. The potter is required, as well as the kiln. Cups are glazed, so we need the production of glaze and the application of glaze. Not to mention that the cup had to be designed by a designer. And the cup had to be imported to Malta, requiring an importer, transport, customs officers, custom breakers. And we buy cups from shops.
In Business Studies learners learn about these connections and they learn to appreciate that every single activity is important so that the whole picture is built and the final product as a whole is produced.
In Business Studies learners learn about financial literacy. Financial literacy is not just the learning of a number of terms. It comprises learning the different terms, associating the terms with particular activities. Learners will also learn the importance of each item and when each item can be used.
In Business Studies learners become more aware of the business environment and the environment around us. Learners will learn that different business organisations operate in different environments. Different business have different requirements, and this does not comprise human and material resources only, but also a different environment. A factory producing tiles has a different environment from the clinic of a medical doctor or the studios of a photographer, although all of them produce goods and services which satisfy the wants of the community.
In Business Studies learners understand what entrepreneurship is. An entrepreneur needs be a leader, an organiser and has to have a long foresight. The entrepreneur must not think of today but of tomorrow and next year. Products designed for today will die today. The entrepreneur needs to be able to read the signs of times. He should acknowledge that there is change taking place and should come up with products, goods and services, which appeal for the changing world of tomorrow.
In Business Studies learners learn about the business structure and how businesses are organised. They learn the difference between different types of business organisations. They also learn why some businesses are organised in one way while others are organised in a different way. Why being a sole trader? Why forming a limited liability company? What are the benefits, disadvantages, rights and obligations of the different types of business organisation?
Learners of Business Studies would learn about the functions of businesses. One of the most important functions is the purchasing function. With this function, one would also attach the control of material. Purchasing comprises both the purchase of materials as well as the acquisition of non-current (fixed) assets, such as machinery, equipment and furniture. The purchasing function is also involved in the procurement of services, such maintenance and repairs.
An important function in a business is finance. This comprises the different forms of financing and in which cases one form of financing would be preferred over another. Financing would be divided into internal financing and external financing. One could also distinguish between short-term financing, medium-term financing, and long-term financing.
As part of financing, learners would also indulge in budgeting. This section of the curriculum comprises both personal budgeting as well as budgeting for an organisation. Along with financing and budgeting, the syllabus comprises also the drawing up of a business plan. This is an important element in organisations, especially when there is a start-up or a new business and when the business would be thinking of indulging into a new venture, project or product.
Banking is an important element, both for the economy as well as for the business and for individuals alike. Learners will learn about the different forms of banks – the Central Bank and commercial banks. They will also learn the terminology used in the banking sector. Learners will learn about the different forms of services offered by banks. This would include the use of plastic money, debit cards and credit cards. Banks are also involved in the fight against money laundering. Learners will learn what money laundering is and how it could be fought. They will also learn about compliance.
Human resources are at the heart or any organisation. Studies about human resources and the management of human resources is very important. This section includes topics about recruitment, job termination, training and trade unions. Learners will be taught how to prepare the curriculum vitæ (CV), how to prepare for the interview and how to behave during an interview.
With reference to trade unions, learners will learn about the different forms of trade unions (or worker associations). The course covers elements related to the advantages of trade unions, of workers forming part of a trade union and the functions of trade unions. It also deals with the role of trade unions in the economy; how trade unions were and are involved in laws aimed to give more advantages to the workers at the place of work, as well outside the place of work and after retirement.
Related to human resources is the topic on unemployment. Learners will learn what unemployment is, how it is measured, the different types of unemployment and possible solutions to the different types of unemployment and the negative effects of unemployment. Learners will learn about strategies to increase employment and decrease unemployment and the unemployment rate.
Business Studies deals also with International Trade: exporting, importing, trade barriers and protectionism, the balance of payments and trade blocs: customs union and free trade association.
An important trade bloc for Malta is the European Union (EU). Here we deal with the functions and organisation of the EU. Learners will learn which are the European countries forming part of the EU. Learners will learn about the euro as a single European currency and which are the countries that form the Euro-Zone. Learners will learn about the advantages and disadvantages of forming part of the EU and the financial aid that the EU gives to member states.
In the course of Business Studies, learners will learn about control and aid. There is control of the way business organisations deal with customers as well as with other businesses: suppliers and/or competitors. Learners will also acquire knowledge about the different forms of aid to business organisations in their operations. Here learners will study about the various authorities that exist to aid and to control business organisations. At the same time, leaners will be taught about the various laws which control and direct business organisations and the economy as a whole.