Chapter 10. Essay Writing – Business Communication and Soft Skills Laboratory Manual

10

Essay Writing

INTRODUCTION

Essay writing is one of the important skills all management students should master. They have to submit their case studies and assignments, then they have to write statement of purpose for admission to any other course and then they need to continue to draft various essays in their career. So honing the essay writing is a useful exercise at any given stage. When you are supposed to write an essay, start answering the following questions.

  1. Who is going to read this essay?
  2. Why are the readers reading this essay?
  3. Why am I writing this essay?
  4. How should I write the essay?
  5. How should I write an effective essay?

Readers

When you set out to write a business essay always ask first who is going read your essay, i.e., who are your target readers. Answer to this question gives greater clarity about how to write an effective essay. Because once you know your target readers, you can mould the essay according to their requirement. When you start asking questions about your readers, do include the following ones and honestly answer them.

  1. What is their age group?
  2. What is their educational and cultural back ground?
  3. What is their level of knowledge in the area in which the current essay is written?
  4. Why are they reading the essay?

So understanding their age group, cultural, and educational back ground would give you adequate insight in to their psychology and their ability to receive your essay. When you can gauge their level of knowledge in the area in which you are writing the essay, you will understand where to expand and where to be precise. It also helps in understanding the scope and reaction of the reader.

Purpose

Answer to the second question gives you the purpose of your reader and informs you to understand what kind of essay are you writing. The purpose/s of the reader should be given adequate importance because if you are not addressing this, there is always a danger of loosing readership. So understand and guess the purposes of the reader, do they want to be informed, take a decision, understand, be aware, or entertained. For example a person who wants to invest in mutual funds would like to take a decision. The essay that is written in the brochure helps him understand the position of the specific mutual fund company and allows him to make a decision. A person reading about the strategic planning of a Chinese company in a news paper is seeking information and awareness. A reader reading about board room humour is interested in getting entertained.

Important Features of an Essay

The aim of an essayist is to write an effective essay that will have long lasting impression on the readers. Try to incorporate the following features in your essay to write an impressive essay.

  • Reader oriented
  • Relevant content
  • Well organized
  • Unity of theme and unity of treatment
  • Coherence
  • Suitable style
  • Suitable layout
  • Authentic information
  • Appropriate language
  • The personal view point
  • Balance
  • Complete and concise
  • Usage of effective connectors

We have already discussed the importance of readers in drafting the essay. So the first feature of a good essay is being reader oriented. When you are incorporating any material into your essay, always check for relevance and authenticity. While writing, generally people tend to deviate from the main theme and tend to include non relevant material also. For example in an essay about the holiday tourism of an Indian you tend to delve in to the cultural and traditional back ground of Indians. But do not go on describing the traditions of India, there is a danger of getting lost as the traditions of India are varied and the subject is vast. So being focused on the major and minor purposes would help incorporate only relevant material. Along with relevance do check the authenticity of the data that is incorporated because you can not take a risk of including any data without cross checking the authenticity.

Unity of theme, unity of treatment, coherence, organizing the ideas, balance all these qualities go together in an essay. As an essayist you should know that all the ideas should be properly organized. To organize the ideas in an order, you should know the type of the essay and suitable order. Generally the order is either chronological or thematic sequence or a combination of them. So each essay has to follow an appropriate order and the organization of ideas should have a smooth transition of one idea to another. This again depends on the unity of theme and unity of treatment. The essay has to emerge as a major theme. And each paragraph has to elaborate one or two major ideas. Until and unless you complete one idea do not jump in to another idea. So a smooth flow of ideas in the paragraph and in the essay will ensure unity of theme and treatment. To make sure the presence of coherence in an essay, introduction should give the purport of the whole essay; the body of the essay is to develop the theme gradually with a well organized structure. The conclusion should emerge in the final paragraph/s. While arranging the ideas you should allot space to each idea depending on its importance in the entire context and in the essay. This ensures balance of ideas in the essay.

The thrust on the simple, clear and direct style is preferred by the executives around the world. So do not try to complicate the ideas or use literary or indirect style to make it effective. The language in business communication has to be positive, polite, clear, simple and direct. So construct simple sentences and use simple language but the apt business English words will be more effective. When you analyze the case study and suggest a few solutions, do follow personal view point and use negotiating attitude. Finally the lay out has to be given adequate importance. The standard font size is 12, Arial/Times Roman unless specified otherwise, with one inch margin on all sides.

TYPES OF ESSAYS

So the third question in the introduction makes the purpose of the essayist clear to him self. In this case the essay is written to persuade the reader to take a desired action.

Case Study 1

When you are writing a statement of purpose to join masters’ degree in a university, you are attempting to impress the reader with your candidature and why do you deserve admission in to the course. So you are basically persuading your reader to take action in your favour.

We will take another case study.

Case Study 2

You are writing an assignment on a case study of an organization ready to get dissolved. You read the solvency report submitted, and you are attempting to high light how and why the decision is valid in this particular case.

In this case you are not merely presenting the facts and figures but analyzing the case thoroughly. You are also analyzing the decision made taking various factors in to consideration. So you are discussing, reviewing the material to analyze the facts available.

Case Study 3

The sales of grinders in India have increased drastically. There are four companies sharing the market. They are Minu, Sumit, National and Macro. Though the sale of all grinders has increased, Macro grinders has decreased to 10% in 2010 compared to that of 2009. The sales of Minu increased to 20%, Sumit has increased to 40% and that of National to 40%. Compare the performance of these companies.

In this case the purpose of the essay is already given to you. You are asked to compare the performance of the grinder companies. In some contexts you are asked to think and frame your essay’s purpose on your own. For example,

Case Study 4

The pharmaceutical company situated in Goa is facing a complex problem. The residents are complaining constantly that the company is causing health hazards to the residents in the locality. The government has given pollution free certificate an year ago. The workers are complaining with a lot of health problems.

In this case the situation is given but specific question is not given so that you can answer. You need to study the case and form the purpose of the essay. Thus taking purpose into consideration we can categorize the essays into different types.

Therefore the essayist will have to have specific purpose/s like analyse, discuss, illustrate, compare, describe, criticize, interpret, review, examine or explain while writing the essay. As an essayist you ought to know the purpose of your essay. If you are answering a question, the question itself is a major clue to understand this. Essays can be categorized into as many as we can, but the major ones are argumentative, descriptive, narrative, cause and effect, informative, and analytical essays.

Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay is the one where the essayist takes a debatable topic and does a complete research of the area of knowledge. He presents argument from both view points and then presents the suggestible argument. These essays are written to convince the reader with the writer’s line of argument. The supporting argument has to be valid, authentic and convincible. This particular type of essay demands not only effective language skills but excellent argumentative and persuasive skills. To hone these skills you need to have a keen eye on finer details and you should collect authentic and valid supporting points. Persuasive skills can be mastered only with positive and polite language skills. The attitude of an individual gets reflected in the language used by him. Coming to language nuances, it is essential to bear in mind that simple, error free, positive and polite language is the yard stick of effective argumentative essay. The structure of such essays would have introduction that would introduce the matter, arguments on both sides supporting it and opposing it, and then conclusion with suitable supportive argument for the essayist’s perspective.

Case Study 5

An organization is started by a group of entrepreneurs and they managed it successfully for two years. Now the entrepreneurs are divided into two groups over an issue. One group believes that they should open another organization in a foreign country. Another group believes that they should wait for some more time till they totally consolidate themselves. The structure may be:

  • Introduction
  • The project ready to operate from a foreign country
  • Its strengths and weaknesses
  • Consolidation of the present company
  • Necessary or not necessary
  • Conclusion

Descriptive Essay

A descriptive essay is the one that describes a person, place, situation, thing or a process. If the task is to describe a situation, study and analyze the situation and to do so, collect information like the people involved, their association, where and when did the situation take place, and organize them into a good essay. If you are describing a person, collect information like his nativity, identity, achievements, ideological association and personality. Then organize them in a suitable order. If the essay is about describing a process, collect information like, what is the process, where would it take place, tools or men required, expected or actual result. Then arrange all the points to form a meaningful essay. Whatever may be the target of description do not ignore to use appropriate adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and connectors.

Case Study 6

The essay is about a new brand of phones launched by a company called Ulysse Nardin. The important features of this phone are the size, color, battery, camera fixed in it.

  • Introduction about the company.
  • The range of products they have.
  • The new brand phone launched recently.
  • It’s important features.
  • It’s uniqueness.
  • Conclusion.

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is the one which narrates a situation, event or a process. The focus of this kind of an essay is to make the reader understand the process of development that lead to the present condition or situation. It is basically a chronological presentation of events that are well connected with the connectors and gives a correct picture of the happenings to the reader. When you are writing the board room events as an essay you follow narrative mode to inform the reader. So to write a narrative essay collect relevant information like where did it happen, when did it happen, how did it happen and what is the present condition. Arrange all the information in either straight or reverse chronological order.

Case Study 7

The essay is a narration of the process of chocolate manufacturing meant to convince the readers to buy them as they are purely hygienic.

  • Introduction about the company and the location of the factory and why they are hygienic.
  • The process of procuring and storing of the raw material.
  • The process of mixing by the machine.
  • The process of packing.
  • Unique features making it the most hygienic chocolate ever produced.
  • Conclusion-no hand touch, no scope for air and water pollution.

Cause and Effect

Cause and effect type of essays generally deal with problems. Collect all necessary information regarding the causes, intensity of the problem, location of the problem, people involved in the problem. Then analyze all the details you have collected and propose a few possible solutions and the best, viable ones depending on the context. So this kind of an essay requires a lot of analytical skills, problem solving approach, and a keen eye on the prediction. While collecting the data take care regarding the validity of the data. Analyze the problem from all possible angles, i.e., do not leave any scope to take a wrong decision. While suggesting solutions, be positive, practical and judicious.

Case Study 8

An essay that deals with high rate of attrition in IT industry in India should focus on the status of the industry, attrition rate in the world, attrition rate in India, reasons and intensity of the problem effects of this problem on the out put and possible solutions looking at the context. The structure may be:

  • Introduction with intensity of the problem in the world and a special focus on India.
  • Status of IT industry in the world and in India.
  • Rate of attrition in at least three years.
  • Study of reasons.
  • Its impact on the out put of the organizations.
  • Possible solutions.
  • Conclusion with best viable solutions.

Informative Essay

Informative essay is the one that basically collects all relevant information and selects the most important information and arranges it in an order. This essay only provides information so, the essayist need not either strive to give his personal view point or suggest any thing to the reader. So the ability to know the potential information sources, ability to cull the information and ability to discard the unnecessary information are the most important steps. Since the reader is reading this essay for information’s sake, the essay should provide complete, reliable and relevant information in a well organized manner. Language plays a vital role. The selection of vocabulary that sounds neutral and simple, along with the construction of simple, clear and direct sentences is necessary to make it effective. Usage of apt connectors among the sentences, ideas and paragraphs gives coherence to the essay.

Analytical Essay

An analytical essay is the one that deals with the analysis of a case study or a problem. In this kind of an essay, the essayist has to first collect all possible information available from all possible sources. Once the information is collected, you should carefully study the information without being overconfident and leave out any material thinking that you know it. After carefully studying it, map the scope and purpose of both the reader and the writer. Then sieve the information you think should be included in the essay. Now analyze the problem or case from 360 degrees i.e… from all possible perspectives. Then find a few solutions and then draw an outline of the essay. Present the problem, present the reasons and facts about it and then suggest the viable solutions in that context. This type of essay is a test for analytical and problem solving skills of a writer apart from language skills.

Case Study 9

Let us consider the statement of purpose of an undergraduate student written for an admission in to a post graduate course in a university. It is descriptive in nature as it describes the person, narrative in nature as it narrates his life to some extent, and informative in nature as it provides valid information about the candidate for understanding his candidature.

There is no hard and fast rule that an essay should be strictly either argumentative or narrative or analytical. An essay can be a combination of more than one type depending on its purposes.

METHODOLOGY

Methodology of drafting an essay would include five steps.

Step 1

Understanding the topic

Step 2

Collecting the necessary information and brain storming

Step 3

Planning and organizing the selected material in order, preparing visuals/non-verbal items if required

Step 4

Drafting the essays with care

Step 5

Reviewing and editing

Understanding the Topic

Whenever you are getting ready to write an essay, remember a significant point. Clear thinking leads clear expression. So, understand the topic clearly and completely. You might have to visit a few knowledge sources like library or internet but you should exercise your brain to have a thorough understanding of the topic. Do not start writing the essay until you are very clear about the topic and what you are supposed to write.

Case Study 10

The marketing team of a courier company is writing an essay on the status of its business during the financial crisis in America, to be printed and published in a news letter.

In this case you will have to collect information about the financial crisis, the condition of business in general in the world, and in particular in America. You have to collect information about the market status of the courier companies in America and in particular the present company. You will have to collect information about its performance in the previous years to show how the slow down has effected.

Collecting the Necessary Information

When you are clear about the topic and what you are supposed to write, start collecting the information and data. So you should know where from you can collect the information and what information and data to be collected. After you collect the material you should study the material to filter it. Here brain storming is necessary to take away unnecessary information and take in essential information.

Planning

Once you have filtered the material and selected the ideas, points and data to be included in the essay, you should then organize them in an order. The order for each kind of essay varies from that of another one. And honestly speaking ordering is the individual perception of the essayist. But for an understanding of how you can initially learn this before you carve a niche of your personal style of organization, follow these points. Draw an outline of the essay as and when you finish filtering the ideas. This outline is nothing but the major heads under which the material can be grouped; they may vary in number to each essay. But every essay should have an introduction, body of discussion and then a conclusion.

Case Study 11

The marketing team of a courier company is writing an essay on the status of its business during the financial crisis in America, to be printed and published in a news letter.

The out line for this essay:

  • Introduction.
  • Financial crisis in the world and in particular USA.
  • Market status of the courier companies in America.
  • The present company’s performance in the previous years-say two consecutive years.
  • The status of the company this year.
  • Conclusive remarks.

Once you are done with this division of heads, plan for the visuals and the non verbal items you wish to include. They may be the factory site, machine, workers working, visual of a product etc. Depending on the data to be presented, select the non verbal item that suits. For example if the data is a procedure description, then a flow chart is suitable. If the data is sales of a company in two years, then a table is suitable. While using the non verbal items, do follow the concerned rules. Finally check the organization of ideas for a thematic order and coherence of thought.

Case Study 12

The marketing team of a courier company is writing an essay on the status of its business during the financial crisis in America, to be printed and published in a news letter.

The non verbal items may include:

  • Status of finance in the world in a graph.
  • Status of finance in America in a graph.
  • Market share of the courier companies in pie diagram.
  • Status of the present company in comparative statement in a table diagram.

Drafting the Essay

Now that the out line of the essay is ready, you need to fill in the ideas to complete the essay. Nevertheless each phase is important, this phase is important in terms of your presence of mind and spontaneity. Because you might have drawn an outline but the articulation of ideas ultimately matter a lot. So, each idea should be expressed with suitable vocabulary and sentence structure, tense form etc.

Each paragraph should start with the theme sentence and elaborate one or more ideas presented. The manner in which you join the ideas into a paragraph and the manner in which you join paragraphs is important. You should manage a lot of balance in terms of space provided to each idea. This has to be measured according to its importance in the context and it’s relation with other ideas in the essay. The flow of ideas has to be natural and comfortable to the reader to comprehend the theme of the essay. Simple, clear and direct language is preferred by executives around the world. Positiveness and politeness are norms of effective language.

While writing the introduction, make sure that it reveals the theme, the major purpose of the essay and what you want to say through this. It has to be effective and suitable. While proceeding to the main body of the essay, you should remember a few important aspects. They are, well connected and complete ideas, supported by genuine and appropriate data, suitable and well placed non verbal items, conciseness to ensure the attention of the reader. Ultimately it has to lead and emerge in to a suggestive conclusion. The conclusion should have a personal touch to make it effective and simultaneously it should be convincing to the readers.

Reviewing and Editing

Once you finish drafting the essay, review the matter and organization of ideas. If you think you need to make any changes like the shifting of a non verbal item, do that. Then edit the matter for language errors like spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, and punctuation mistakes, edit it for content flow and coherence. Do not ignore any lacuna that will impact the effectiveness of the essay. Finally follow the do’s and don’ts listed here before you write an essay.

 

Dos Don’ts
✓ Give importance to the reader and his needs. × Ignore the reader’s needs and ability to comprehend.
✓ Decide the type of essay you are writing. × Be in a hurry to draft the essay.
✓ Know what you are writing and why you are wring much before you start. × Be ignorant of the content and jot down some points from here and there to join them to form an essay.
✓ Follow the steps prescribed in the methodology section. × Start writing the essay without proper preparation and planning.
✓ Review and edit the essay. × Proceed with the first draft.
✓ Remember that clarity of thought leads to clarity in writing. × Jumble ideas and sentences.
✓ Usage effective beginning and conclusion makes an effective essay. × Effortless writing leads ineffective beginning and ending.
✓ Cross check the authenticity of information. × Include any information only because it attracted your attention.

Sample Statement of Purpose

I am applying for admission into the masters program in Business Administration as I am interested in perusing career in this area. In particular, I am interested in retail business administration in third world countries and the impact of western countries and their policies. I am also interested in studying the long term strategies, distribution network, foreign companies entering India and third world countries. In order to gain an appreciation of these and related issues, it is essential for me to have a strong grounding in Economics, Political Science, Public Administration along with General Management perspective.

I would like to further pursue my Ph.D in Business Administration of retail business in Asia with special reference to India and the impact of the presence of western companies. I believe that the Masters program in Business Administration would be invaluable in helping me achieve my career objectives. The foundation of the acumen I propose to gain would enable me to channel my quantitative and conceptual skills in analyzing business issues. This would help me in sail comfortably towards a Ph.D. I would like to contribute to a concrete understanding of this area and help formulate effective strategies in this regard.

I believe that my under graduation in Economics, Political Science, Public Administration has given good background for such a career. I am interested in research since my undergraduate days and I gained confidence in it when my final year project ‘retail industry in Andhra Pradesh’ was judged as the best dissertation in the Osmania University. My three years under graduation has provided me with a strong grounding in Economics (I stood first in my Department for each of the three papers).

Upon completion of under graduation from Osmania University I took up a job with Spencer Group one of the largest retain business house in India. This is where I learned how the entire retail business house is administered and managed. This real time experience has transformed my interest in retail business management research into a passion. I read extensively, trying to keep myself informed about management thinking in my areas of work — structure and systems in an industry and strategies involved.

My present job for a year has given me exposure to many nuances of retail business in India. I have worked with a team of twenty member team; my team has analyzed markets and examined the marketing strategies and advertisements of all retail business houses in India. I have helped formulate entry strategies, plans for expansion and diversification; and also company business plans.

The assignments I handled have helped me gain a broad exposure to Indian retail business, but it has not been possible for me to study the same in other Asian countries. I need a better understanding of the in Asian countries. I also would like to study the impact of the presence of western companies. Equally important, I need further training in research methodology.

I want to do a Ph.D. at the Harvard University as I came to know that this university has produced the best research in this area. I believe that the world class resources and professors are going to help me in this pursuit. The faculty’s reputation for excellent teaching, challenging coursework and the excellent facilities are added attractions.

Albeit my focal attention is on research in management today, my interests in painting, surfing and mountaineering help me maintain a sense of perspective in life. I have been conducting painting exhibitions. I have organized and participated in a number of extra-curricular activities during my college days and have won university and national level prizes in debating, painting and surfing. I also believe that each of us must give something back to society. I am a member of Lions club Hyderabad, an NGO and devoted more than hundred hours a year for three consecutive years I started working for Plastic free Hyderabad for a year.

I hope that the admissions committee finds my background and strengths commensurate with the requirements of Masters in Business Administration in Harvard University.

Now write an essay selecting any one topic below or you can choose to write an essay on anything of your choice.

  1. Write your statement of purpose for an admission in to a foreign university.
  2. Write an executive summary of your project report.
  3. Take any organization of your choice, study their advertisements and write an essay examining their marketing strategies.
  4. Read this book completely and write a different preface to it.
  5. Write an essay on the necessity of communication skills for managers.
STUDENT ACTIVITY I
SELF-ASSESSMENT
  1. I understand the topic very well:

     

    Yes__________

    No__________

    If no, why?

  2. I followed the steps prescribed in methodology section:

     

    Yes__________

    No__________

    If no, why?

  3. I could collect the necessary information from different knowledge sources:

     

    Yes__________

    No__________

    If no, why?

  4. I could organize the material in an order:

     

    Yes__________

    No__________

    If no, why?

  5. I prepared non-verbal items including:

     

    Table__________

    Graph__________

    Bar chart__________

    Pie diagram__________

    Flow chart__________

    Tree diagram__________

    Other__________

     

  6. My language is:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  7. Did I edit the first draft?

     

    Yes__________

    No__________

    If no, why?

  8. What is the difficult part? (you can select more than one)

     

    Brain storming__________

    Collecting the information__________

    Organizing__________

    Selecting the information to include__________

    Sentence construction__________

    Bringing coherence to the text__________

    Other__________

     

  9. Which of these qualities were present in my text:

     

    Reader oriented__________

    Relevant content__________

    Well organized.__________

    Unity of theme and unity of treatment.__________

    Coherence__________

    Suitable style__________

    Suitable layout__________

    Authentic information__________

    Appropriate language__________

    Personal viewpoint__________

    Balance__________

    Complete and concise__________

    Usage of effective connectors__________

     

  10. How do I plan to improve my writing skills?
PEER GROUP ASSESSMENT
  1. Ability to collect necessary information:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  2. Ability to organize the material in an order:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  3. Ability to give coherence:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  4. Ability to express in suitable language:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  5. Ability to serve the purpose:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  6. Ability to articulate the ideas:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

TEACHER’S ASSESSMENT
  1. Ability to collect necessary information:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  2. Ability to organize the material in an order:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  3. Ability to give coherence:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  4. Ability to express in suitable language:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  5. Ability to serve the purpose:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________

     

  6. Ability to articulate the ideas:

     

    Good__________

    Very good__________

    Average__________

    Needs improvement__________