Skills for Business and Management

by Martin Sedgley

Critical Analysis

3 principles of critical analysis in management assignments. (Narrative over PowerPoint slides)

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What do management tutors mean by critical analysis?

The following list shows which factors generally constitute critical analysis in business and management assignments, and which do not:

Necessary, analytical elements in all your assignments:

✔ Questioning what you read and hear.

✔ Summarising others’ ideas.

✔ Paraphrasing others’ ideas (in your own words).

✔ Comparing and contrasting others’ ideas.

✔ Exploring the debate around a topic.

Analytical functions required in some assignments:

✔ Applying theoretical ideas to business situations.

✔ Challenging others’ views on a topic.

Some tutors may require these aspects in their assignments:

? Developing strategic recommendations.

? Offering solutions for business problems.

Descriptive writing, i.e. not critical analysis. This should only be briefly summarised early in the essay:

✘ Stating what a theory proposes.

✘ Showing what happened in a business situation.

Not critical analysis:

✘ Expressing your own opinion

For detailed explanation of each of these principles, see the beginning of Chapter 8.

These principles of critical analysis can be applied to your assignments through a series of stages proposed in the four-step model of academic writing below:

A four-step model of effective academic writing

1. Summarising and paraphrasing

Concisely expressing your understanding of an author’s research in your own words.

2. Synthesis

a) Building support by integrating complementary ideas or factual data from other authors.

b) Developing debate around that topic with contrasting ideas and information from different sources.

3. Interpretation

Explaining your view of that debate in terms of your assignment question.

4. Application

Relating the debated, theoretical ideas to actual business practice.

Each of these steps is explained in detail in Chapter 8 of the textbook. At the end of that chapter, there is also a high-grade management student essay, with tutor commentary explaining how this is critically analytical.