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Herzlich willkommen!

It was very good to meet several German students from the distance learning centre at Hamburg for a library induction yesterday.  They are studying in Lincoln for two weeks only, with another cohort arriving at the end of the month.

As Academic Subject Librarians for the Business School, Martin Osborne (on the left) and myself, Daren Mansfield (the other chap), wish you Viel Glück on your course!

Videos on how to conduct market research using two databases

Whilst comparing and contrasting various products in various countries may be useful in a business or marketing assignment, such multi-layered information is often hard to find, so I’m offering some guidance on these freshly-produced videos. It is worth remembering as business students such research is carried out by multinationals, particularly those considering expansion into new or emerging markets, or following a trend, so learning about database research has an employability value as well. At the bottom right-hand corner of each video there is a full-screen option available should you wish to enlarge the screen.

The first video shows you how to conduct market research on the Marketline (Datamonitor 360), using the example of bottled water and comparing its market value in Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, and Venezuela; all of which can be downloaded into Excel.

The second video uses the database Global Market Information Database (Euromonitor International) to conduct research into the market sizes of cigarettes in Egypt, Tunisia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Again these statistics can be downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet.

If you reference these videos correctly then you are able to insert them into your assignment or appendices, which could boost your quantitative evidence and your final grade. It may take a few moments to familiarise yourself with using these databases, but it would be worth the effort in the end.

Box of Broadcasts: Lord Sugar tackles football

For anyone old enough to remember, like me, Alan Sugar was the high-profile chairman of Tottenham Hotspur from 1991 to 2001. In this programme, Sugar trouble-shoots the Premiership with its enormous debt, with clubs facing an average financial losses of £20 million a year, massing a staggering debt of £3.3 bn in the league. As an example, 91% of West Ham’s turnover is spent on players’ wages. Listen to the inspirational story of former player Dave Whelan, the founder of JJB Sports, who bought Wigan Athletic about the spiralling wage bill, or Harry Redknapp who played at West Ham during their glory days but worked at a supermarket stacking shelves during the summer.
If you are a a member of staff or student at the University of Lincoln you should be able to view this programme. Box of Broadcasts has an amazing archive of tv and radio programmes ready to view or listen to. You can also create clips and embed the links, as I have done. Just go to the Portal > Library > E-Library > Box of Broadcasts and log on.

This recording is to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence. For terms of use and to find and record more programmes please visit BoB National.

Book of the month: Gary Bradt’s Ring in the Rubble (2007)

Change can appear dark at times but if we  look at things differently, we may be able to gain light from another perspective. July’s elected Book of the Month, Ring in the Rubble, a management ebook that borders on a self-help guide for business people, starts with a moving account of the author’s son life-threatening birth, and how a golden ring can be found in the midst of when things fall apart; even when you see your life turning to rubble around you.  Gary Bradt’s Ring in the Rubble (2007)  is about discovering opportunities that lie within every situation and overcoming the fear of failure. An intrepid CEO echoes this Tolkien philosophy to her staff:

Folks, government regulations, shifting technologies, industry consolidation, and geopolitical uncertainties have reduced our best-laid business plans to rubble. However, my experience says that buried within the rubble is a golden ring of opportunity. Finding it will catapult us far ahead of our competition. I believe it’s our job as leaders and as an organization to find that ring. So, how do you recommend we proceed? (Bradt, 2007: 5)

A traditional management response might be to benchmark organizations, develop a list of competencies, design a training programme and invite attendees.  Yet the choice is stark.  According to Bradt (2007) to not search for the ring is certain failure in a ‘go for it’ culture , but to aggressively search for the ring is to win. Capitalism turned hunt-game. Not for the faint-hearted or skeptics.

The underlying premise of The Ring in the Rubble applies to your personal life as well, whether you’re ‘facing a new marriage, divorce, birth, death, or illness, it’s not the change itself that dictates the results we get, it’s how we perceive and handle that change that makes all the difference’ (Bradt, 2007: 7). How we face disruption and cope with a mounting workload effectively styles the type of manager you are, and this book challenges the reader to bravely examine established self-perceptions.

The non-solipsistic mantra of chapter 6 appealed to me: ‘Repeat after me: You are not the center of the universe’.  Forfeit the ego….if only! Another illuminating chapter (chap. 8) is ‘What to do when the rubble is deep, your patience is short,  and the odds are long’  starts with the author’s brother Jeff buying a new home and finding a solitary woman in a house full of paint, caulk and junk in every room: 

“Do you mean to tell me that you’re cleaning the whole house by yourself?” he asked her incredulously. “No,” she replied blithely, “I’m only cleaning the room I’m in.” This woman clearly had developed a strategy for dealing with what I call our Everyday Rubble’. (Bradt, 2007: 104). Concentrate upon one job at a time, taking one step at a time.  It might be my ignorance of management theory and Buddhism, but the book may be simply re-packaging mindfulness into the business world, a zen philosophy contemporarily taught by Thich Nhat Hanh. Bradt (2007: 104) explains that to tackle everyday disruption equates with success:

Everyday Rubble accumulates from all of the small yet typical disruptions in our perfectly planned days. Traffic jams, cancelled flights, unexpected meetings, client crises, bulging workloads beyond the norm, unexpected days with no babysitter—all sorts of things can contribute to our pile of Everyday Rubble.

Rethinking failure as something which should not avoided, not to entertain risk avoidance, over-turning the aspiration to acquire top grades, and recognising that the fear of failure holds us back, is a refreshingly bold concept. Is this an anti-scientific method? Children just try things without fear of failure or embarrassment. It’s just learning. Thomas Edison tried thousands of times before he perfected the light bulb.  Bradt (2007: 116) views risk avoidance as nonsensical:

We don’t share ideas in meetings for fear of sounding stupid; we don’t float that new product idea for fear it will be rejected; we won’t even order new items on the menu at lunch for fear of being disappointed! That critical inner voice in our heads holds us back from trying anything new where failure is a possibility.

Being yourself is something which we could all learn from, and not taking yourself too seriously in the process. If you would like to read further, just search the catalogue for Ring in the Rubble and ‘log into ebook here’ near the bottom of the screen.

 

Book of the month: Food and wine festivals and events around the world: Development, management and markets by Hall and Sharples (2008)

As June’s Book of Month I have chosen the highly entertaining Food and wine festivals and events around the world: Development, management and markets by Hall and Sharples (2008), another sparkling title downloaded from our ebook collection. As a lover of markets, I was naturally drawn to this subject matter. I’m not a fan of shopping, like most men I guess, but markets are refreshingly different than any air-conditioned shopping mall. As you would expect from an academic text it is packed full of academic references, verifying statistics and a doubtless quest for the authentic. Nevertheless, I found some sections alive and thriving as an outsider to the academic genre, such as the joyous ‘Apples, cider and celebration’ chapter by Liz Sharples (2008: 134) which describes the honorific apple harvest from time immemorial, or at least 4000 years, and its rich social and cultural history:

Wherever, and whenever, there is a harvest, there is a cause for celebration. The autumnal gathering of apples from   orchards and groves around the world is no exception. This is a crop which is consumed, appreciated and savoured by millions of people, young and old, and apple juice and cider, made from the pressing of this precious commodity, is also widely revered.

Cider was surprisingly used as currency between the 17th and 19th centuries as daily wages for farm labourers.  Political debate over preserving orchards, farmhouse ciders, and the rise of specialist, albeit mass-produced ciders, are also covered in this lively book.  Heritage and preservation is the message in the UK, and (perhaps dizzyingly) revolving around cider. In Sweden the attention of apple events circulates around preserving apple varieties.  Apple events have become a feature of  US society, as indeed they are in Canada. If you’re ever in picturesque Vernon, British Columbia, why not pop along to the splendidly quirky ‘Apple Harvest Hoedown and Quilt Show’? A wonderful feature of the UK is Wassailing, Old English for “be healthy”, the pagan ceremony performed for a bountious apple harvest, which is noisy, celebratory and symbolic, with participants hanging toast or bread onto apple trees to attract good spirits. If you’re interested, then the nearby Brandy Wharf Cider Centre in Waddingham celebrates this event around January. This is an extract from a song that is sung at the Butcher ’s Arms in Carhampton in Somerset and is recorded in a book by Evans (2002) cited in Hall and Sharples (2008: 139):

Oh apple tree we wassail thee

And happily will thou bear

For the Lord doth know where we shall be

Till apples another year

Old apple tree! We wassail thee!

And hoping thou will bear

Hatsful, capsful, three bushel bagsful

And a little heap under the stair

The book also covers the ressurgance of farmers’ markets, food and drink festivals, beer festivals, and various case studies such as those comparing Marylebone Market (central London), Bakewell Farmers’ Market (Derbyshire) and Askern Farmers’ Market (Yorkshire), to demonstrate their significant regional influence in terms of the economy, environment and social impact.  I would highly recommend Food and wine festivals and events around the world not only for Tourism students, but for those amongst us who prefer more of an authentic shopping experience, and want to know more about these communal events that have shaped societies by bringing people together in the name of food and drink. It is available by searching on the library catalogue and ‘log into ebook here’, or by selecting on the hyperlinked title.

Good luck in your exams

Just a short video wishing all the students from the Business School, and everyone else, good luck and every success in their exams.

Chat to us on Meebo

Meebo Messenger is a social messaging web-based platform that allows us, the Business Librarians, to answer queries in a more informal way and to extend our interaction with users. If you would like to use this facility then please be assured that correspondence is not seen by anyone else.  To everyone else, the screen will appear clear of any text.

If we are logged onto Meebo it will say ‘Business Librarian is online’.  Alternatively,  if we are out of the office for whatever reason, Meebo will say ‘Business Librarian is offline’.

To find out more about Meebo and how it can be used with other applications like Facebook, please see Pierce Jason Jonota’s two-minute screencast video available on YouTube:

RefWorks – importing records from the UoL library catalogue

Further to enquiries about getting the RefWorks catalogue search working again, our esteemed colleague Elif Varol has written an excellent step-by-step guide, with screenshots, on using the catalogue search.

 

There’s more information on the Thought Cloud blog: http://elif.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/tag/refworks/

If you would like help with Refworks please email us at businesslibrarian@lincoln.ac.uk and we’ll be happy to help. It’s easier than you may think!

 

 

 

Book of the Month: Stella Cottrell’s Critical Thinking Skills (2005)

Everyone’s a critic now, allegedly, but developing an academic critique is a different skill, which is why I have chosen Stella Cottrell’s (2005) Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument  as May’s fabled Book of the Month.  Many of us believe that we possess relevant critical skills, without analysing them. I believe that Stella Cottrell ‘s practical, accessible approach unlocks the natural processes that lead to such intellectual development, which is why her books  prove so popular within universities.  Barely a library workshop  is planned without referring to her work (although I cannot empirically support such a claim, of course!).  By reading this book your critical thinking skills should develop, and the more you read, the more these faculties will grow.

This is not just a work on the processes of critical thinking, but it also encourages you to think critically. And it’s so easy! Such as…usefully including reflections such as emotional self-management over controversial subjects,  personal influences and challenging opinion: ‘For me, the things I find most difficult about challenging the opinions of other people are….’ (Cottrell, 2005: 6).  There are also reflections from lecturers about their approaches to critical thinking, after reading and adopting a step-by-step critical thinking approach: ‘I then then create my own position, and check my own point of view is convincing…could I support it if I was challenged?’ (Cottrell, 2005: 7).

Cottrell (2005) considers critical thinking as a logical process, constructing an argument and line of reasoning, reasoning and associated rational thought, analysing academic argument, sourcing reliable evidence, developing understanding, weighing strengths and weaknesses, deciding upon the objectivity of non-dualism of grey areas; acknowledging that arguments may not be right or wrong. The paradoxical frustration and creativity of realising, like philosophical debate, that there are only questions, only interim conclusions, atop further questions. This is the lifeblood of academic study. Nothing concrete, only shifting paradigms.

Cottrell (2005) prompts the reader to consider various styles of writing to deliver a message and critiques passages through multiple-choice answers to assess your thinking skills; one method employed to identify the skills of comparison, sequence, categorising, following directions, close reading and recognising similarities.  Through reading short (and interesting) passages we are required to identify arguments through reason, understanding messages, implicit and explicit arguments and assumptions. By fathoming causal links, correlations and false correlations, and by identifying flaws in an argument like a text called The Great Chain of Being about the power of The Enlightenment to challenge old ideas, we recognise the courage to raise alternative ideas, challenge personal barriers such as criticising academic research, and think sequentially to construct a logical framework of debate and discussion.

Located at  370.152 cot on the 1st floor of the GCW, there are several copies available of Stella Cottrell’s Critical Thinking Skills (2005) waiting to be borrowed and digested.

Free annual reports

Originally based on the Financial Times website, the annual report service  is free, easy to use, and (potentially) hundreds of reports can be posted to your home address on a CD. This site will prove useful for anyone conducting primary research into company information. By way of recommendation, the London Stock Exchanges refers to this website on its homepage.

London Stock Exchange

Research into family-run businesses

IBoqueria Market stallf you’re ever researching family-run businesses, then you may wish to consider Business Link’s useful guide and a US magazine called the Family Business Magazine. Also, Family Business Solutions has practical links and documents, while the The Institute for Family Business is also worth examining.

Closer to home, the database Business Source Complete, available on the e-library section of the Portal, finds over 5,000 full-text articles using the subject heading FAMILY-owned business enterprises, but statistics may be harder to find. Some statistics for larger businesses could be found on FAME and Marketline, both located on the e-library.

 

Revise for your exams next Monday

If you would like to learn more about revision techniques in preparation for your forthcoming exams, then you may be interested in attending our workshop taking place on Monday from 2-3 in UL102, on the first floor of the Library. We have uploaded the presentation for this workshop as a taster for the session…

Revision and Exam FINAL V2

As part of the workshop you are encouraged to complete a learning styles questionairre. Everyone has a dominant learning style, to a varying degree, that will help your revision and alleviate some of the stress involved.

3 Study Methods

So, why not discover your learning style and be better prepared for your exams? Just turn up for the workshop – no need to book.

Lincolnshire Statistics

neighborhood

If you are ever struggling to find local statistical information then try using the Neighbourhood Statistics website .

Produced by the office of National Statistics, this useful site allows you to narrow down your search by postcode or town to find relevant data for your area of study.

Another useful source of local statistical information is the Lincolnshire Research Observatory site.

Established in December 1999, the Lincolnshire Research Observatory (LRO) is a partnership of organisations across the county who aim to share and improve access to quality information and intelligence about Lincolnshire. You can also register to access regular up-dates whenever new sources of information are available.

If you need any help accessing either web site then email Daren or Martin at businesslibrarian@lincoln.ac.uk

 

 

 

Datamonitor360 rebranding

Once known as Marketline, Datamonitor360  is being rebranded once again and will now be known as Marketline Advantage.

We will be updating our database pages to reflect this.