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MGMT 4P90:Business Strategy (Helms)

A guide to information sources for business strategy and strategic management research (external analysis, industry research, current developments) for Dr Helms' course; citing sources in APA.

Using Primary & Secondary Business Sources

For this assignment, you will be using both primary and secondary sources to assist in providing recommendations to your client organization.

Primary sources:

  • what the organization (or industry) says about itself via: annual reports, presentations, press releases, organizational blogs, tweets, speeches, etc.
  • These sources may be provided by your client organization and will assist with your internal analysis.

Secondary sources:

  • what others say about an organization (or industry) via: newspaper or magazine articles, books, or other media sources (television or radio transcripts, social media, etc.) and analyst reports.
  • These sources will be found using a combination of internet and library database searches and will assist with your external analysis.

How do these sources support your external analysis?

  • Provide background information on the organization
  • Identify key stakeholders
  • Identify competitors and industry trends
  • Provide details on the broader environment
  • Provide real data (i.e. facts and statistics)

Asking Questions

Before you start gathering information for a business project, it's important to consider a few questions:

  1. What information do you need to make an informed decision/recommendation?
    1. Consider they types of information you need to answer the research questions you have. Some examples include: demographics and statistics, industry trends, recent news, financial reports, company documents, regulations.
  2. Who is gathering/writing/creating/publishing that information?
    1. Consider who is responsible for the information you need. Some examples include: governments, professional associations, newspapers, specific companies, scholars/academics, think tanks.
  3. Is that information available to you?
    1. Consider if all the different types of information you need are available for you to use. Some information is easily available through internet searches, while others are housed in library databases, and others are restricted to internal employees.

These questions will help guide your searching by determining what you need and potentially where you can find it.

Building a Search Strategy

Once you have an idea of the information you need and where it might be located, it's time to build search strategy to ensure your searches are effective and efficient.

Whether you're searching using Google or searching one of the library's databases, using keywords will greatly improve your searches. This Brock Library video gives you the basics of determining keywords and combining them for an effective search.

Key takeaways:

  1. Identify keywords from your research topic or question.
  2. Develop synonyms.
  3. Combine keywords using Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT.
  4. Revise your searches as you go.

Using More Than Keywords

In business research, there are certain search terms you can use beyond keywords that can make your searches more effective. Some of the library's business databases allow you to search by Ticker Symbol or Industry Code.

Ticker Symbols (for searching company information)

  • Find a publicly traded company's Ticker Symbol on their website or on the stock exchange's website.
  • e.g. Apple Inc. is APPL, Alphabet Inc. is GOOGL, Inc. is AMZN

Industry codes (for searching industry information)

  • Industries are categorized by classification systems which provide standardized industry codes. There are a few different classification systems around the world. The most common in North America is the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).
  • e.g. 445110 is the NAICS code for Supermarkets and other grocery retailers