Business A Level – Strategy, Growth and the collapse of Carillion


You know the theory inside out. Great. But how best to show the examiner you really get business? Use a well-known real-world case like the collapse of the giant construction and services firm Carillion on 14 January 2018.

Carillion grew organically, diversifying from construction into managing schools and NHS call centres and schools – to name just two of many “outsourcing” contracts. It also grew by horizontal integration by merger and takeover of other big construction firms so that it could compete for and win very large building contracts. What went wrong?

The details are in this Observer newspaper article:

How to use this in an answer? Here are specimen questions from four exam boards

Assess the likely impact on Burts of its decision to grow the business organically.

Carillion shows us how badly organic growth can go wrong, and why

Under Justin King, Sainsbury’s changed its strategy. Do you think that to be successful the strategy of a business needs to be determined mainly by what is happening in its external environment? Justify your answer.

Carillion shows us how badly a company can perform even when the external environment is on its side

To what extent could Starbucks be viewed as a successful organisation?

Carillion shows us how easily and quickly a successful organisation can fail

Given the changes in the eternal environment, discuss whether Lego has changed its objectives towards achieving larger profits.

Carillion shows us the danger of chasing larger profits without very clear objectives and planning

You won’t get a higher grade by recalling your textbook and ticking theoretical boxes. The marking system rewards students who show they really get it. A real world example, relevant and properly used, shows just that.

BONUS! It’s not just about grades. Finding out about real world business is the BEST way to understand what the topic is about. And it’s a lot more interesting!

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