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Defining and discussing

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For Part 1, it is important to develop your ability to define and discuss. What does this mean? Examine the following examples to see how these students define, then begin to discuss:

Example 1

The economic environment consists of "factors that affect consumer purchasing power and spending patterns" (Kotler et al, 1998, p.113). There are numerous factors in the economic environment that may influence and potentially have a profound impact on the banking industry. The most obvious of these are cyclical fluctuations in the level of economic activity...

Student defines by making a statement, quoting from a reference and citing the source. He then moves from the general to the specific to discuss in terms of his chosen industry.

Example 2

Demography may be defined as the "statistical study of human population and its distribution" (Stanton, Miller and Layton, 1991, p. 23), measured in terms of age, sex, density, location, race, occupation, etc. If the baking industry is to prosper, they must be able to identify the changes and trends in their demographic environment and cater their services to meet or respond to these changes...

Student gives the definition, quoting from a reference and citing the source. She then moves from the general to the specific to discuss in terms of her chosen industry.

Example 3

Fifield (1998, p. 33) defines promotion as "the whole array of methods and procedures by which the organisation communicates with its target market". Promotion can be accomplished using a number of different methods...

Student gives the name and reference of the author presenting the definition, quoting it and then moving from the general to the specific to discuss in terms of his chosen industry.

It is good to present definitions in different ways to make your writing more interesting for your reader. In general, you should try to paraphrase your sources, but for definitions, for obvious reasons, it is difficult not to use direct quotation.

Identify the problem with the following examples.

Example 1

Demographic Environment

Demographically, the world is not what it used to be. Australia today is very different from what it was a generation ago. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in 1998 nearly 12% of the population was aged over the age of 65...

Example 2

Natural Environment

The natural environment and the consumers' love for it have seen an emergence of specialist "outdoor-tourism" companies over the past ten to fifteen years. An even newer development in this field of tourism has been that of "eco-tourism"...

Example 3

Technological Environment

Technology is making the airlines industry more efficient and competitive, as more accurate information is available to consumers and more competitive distribution to producers. It seems inevitable that advances in technology will continue to have major impacts on the airline industries.

Task feedback

In each case, the student begins discussing before they have defined the macroenvironmental force.

Sometimes you should quote directly, but mostly you need to quote indirectly - paraphrasing your sources.

To paraphrase, you need to:

  • Understand the original - there's no point including something you do not understand. Check a dictionary if you need to.
  • Work out the main idea you want to include: make sure it's relevant to your line of argument
  • Include words to indicate the original author's attitude, if that is relevant
  • Check that you have not distorted the original author's meaning
  • Use quotation marks if you are using specialist words/phrases from the original
  • Cite your source accurately


Identify the problems with the following:

Sample 1

The over-heated share-markets are unblinking in their admiration for the internet and the opportunities of e-business...

Sample 2

The kangaroo symbol [of Qantas] represents a proud history focused on reliability, safety, engineering excellence and customer service.

Task feedback

There are expressions in both of these which are clearly derived from sources: "unblinking in their admiration", "a proud history". Even when it's not so clear that the wording comes from a source, remember that your marker is very familiar with all the textbooks on the subject and marks hundreds of assignments each year.

In the case of these two examples, the expressions are not so important that they should have been quoted directly, so the students would have been better off paraphrasing, e.g.:

Share markets may in time regret their current excessive enthusiasm for the possibilities of e-commerce (Bloggs, 2000).

The kangaroo image links Qantas to all that is thought to be best about Australia: this includes qualities such as reliability and safety, high-quality engineering and service (Smith, 1999).

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