200817 Business Communication Skills

OVERVIEW

Critical thinking is the art of asking questions of what you read or hear in order to identify key issues, analyse arguments and make reasoned decisions. This assessment requires you to undertake a number of discrete critical thinking tasks, and to write a critical review of a business proposition.

RESOURCES 

1)https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/ data/assets/pdf file/0006/1082382/Critical Thinking.pdf

2)https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/studysmart/home/assignment help/writing

3) Is English your second language? Resources at: https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/careers/home/resources(bottom of the page)

4) Western Sydney Harvard referencing: https://library.westernsydney.edu.au/main/guides/referencing-citation 

PART 1: SHORT ANSWERS (500 words max. in total; 20 marks)

(a)       Work out the argument (5 marks)

 The following is an example of a badly formulated argument. Identify the main argument of this piece of writing in one or two sentences.

For centuries, societies have suppressed women. Societies expect women to be well-rounded and balanced, giving them more responsibilities than men. In this respect, women already have a more difficult life than men. There are not only high qualifications for a respectable woman, but there is also a double standard. While men can feel safe about their status with other men, women have to worry about not offending both men and women with their acquired superiority. Although the reality is less prevalent in modern day, women also continue to struggle with oppression and degradation, especially women in the Chinese culture.Gender differences are not only physical but rather they are social.Women have been conditioned to be submissive and insignificant in the Chinese culture.Since physical labour is in high demand,the physical differences contribute to the prejudice towards female employees. Throughout time, Chinese women have been stripped of their power to make private choices such as who to marry. Women should not feel honoured to serve men but to serve with men, as should men to serve with women. Chinese women have been told by generations before them that their purpose is to entertain and care for their husband. Instead of condemning the differences as a curse, people should embrace them as a gift. If nothing else, the multitasking ability women have displayed throughout the years is evidence of possible prosperity. Society needs to stop reinforcing and validating its created gendered differences, and start finding a fulcrum where women and men can evolve as equals.

 (b)       Implicit assumptions (5 marks)

Identify the implicit assumptions in this article. (2-4 sentences only)

7 July 2004 Australian Financial Review

Immigrants taking local IT jobs: report

By David Crowe

Thousands of low-cost workers are entering the country and undermining the job prospects of new computer science graduates, according to a report commissioned for the federal government that calls for drastic changes to skilled migration. Visa requirements should be tightened to end a “serious oversupply” of young overseas workers which is driving down salaries and contributing to high unemployment among information and communication technology (ICT) workers under 30, the report says. It also likens the easy entry of temporary workers to a subsidy that gives offshore outsourcers such as Indian computer companies an unfair advantage over Australian rivals. The findings are certain to trigger fresh debate over migration just two months after federal Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone raised the skilled migrant intake to a record 77,000 in 2004-05.Although Senator Vanstone imposed new barriers for some skilled visas, the report suggests those measures are not enough to stem the flow of cheap labour. The controversial report, commissioned by the Australian Computer Society and written by immigration specialistBob Kinnaird, has been suppressed by the ACS, which cannot agree on a policy response. A copy has been passed to the office of Communications Minister Daryl Williams and distributed to several departments, angering some within the ACS. Using unpublished census data and government migration figures, the report concludes that in 2003 the stock of ICT migrants reached an unsustainable level of 13,000, or about 7 per cent of the sector’s workforce. Younger workers are hit especially hard, the report says, because 76 per cent of the migrants were under 30 and being paid salaries comparable to or below those for recent graduates. The report rejects the notion of a local shortage of key skills, citing immigration figures showing 96 per cent of successful ICT applicants for permanent residency had skills that were not in short supply. “The overall ICT intake should stay at reduced levels until the Australian ICT labour market can absorb increased inflows of ICT migrants without disadvantaging Australian graduates and without jeopardising the level and quality of student demand for ICT university courses,” says the report, a copy of which has been obtained by The Australian Financial Review. The ACS could not be contacted yesterday. Mr Kinnaird would not comment on the report.The findings come as the federal government tries to crack down on abuses of category 457 and 456 visas by agents in India and Australia who charge thousands of dollars to bring in workers. In some cases, the migrants failed to find ICT employment and took cleaning jobs instead. There are signs that prospects for ICT graduates are improving. Bob Olivier, director of the Olivier Group, yesterday said the number of online job ads for ICT graduates was up 80 per cent last month from a year ago, though he said skilled migrants could make conditions tougher. “If you’ve got a low-cost alternative with the same skill set, then the local market is vulnerable,” he said. The Kinnaird report directly links migration to the contentious issue of offshore outsourcing and urges changes to make it harder for Indian outsourcing companies with subsidiaries in Australia to bring employees from their home country to work on projects here.(c)        Data analysis (5 marks)

You are a government decision-maker. What conclusions can you draw from this data? If you had to decide on a new job-skills education facility to service Melbourne East, what other information would you need? (2-4 sentences only)

Occupation of employment
Melbourne East:

Employed persons (Usual residence)

2016 2011 Change
Occupation Number % Greater Melbourne

%

Number % Greater Melbourne

%

2011 to 2016
Managers 158,815 15.6 14.6 157,222 17.2 16.2 +1,593
Professionals 100,444 9.9 9.6 81,695 8.9 8.8 +18,748
Technicians and Trades Workers 138,898 13.7 11.7 131,041 14.4 12.2 +7,857
Community and Personal Service Workers 202,957 20.0 26.3 172,642 18.9 25.5 +30,315
Clerical and Administrative Workers 109,944 10.8 13.7 96,640 10.6 13.3 +13,304
Sales Workers 94,519 9.3 9.0 84,855 9.3 9.0 +9,664
Machinery Operators and Drivers 88,765 8.7 5.6 80,517 8.8 5.7 +8,248
Labourers 98,650 9.7 7.5 88,220 9.7 7.3 +10,430
Not stated or inadequately described 22,069 2.2 1.9 20,095 2.2 2.0 +1,973
Total employed persons aged 15+ 1,015,061 100.0 100.0 912,929 100.0 100.0 +102,131

(d)       Flawed arguments (5 marks)

 How can we criticise this article? (2-4 sentences only)

The more modern anthropologists learn about Australian Aboriginal civilization, the better they understand its intellectual achievements. Australian Aborigines were not the hunter/gatherers assumed by so many early writers, but rather some western tribes were farmers of indigenous plants and animals. Furthermore, numerous medical uses of these indigenous plants were discovered by the Australian Aborigines. Oral traditions indicate that the Aborigines seem to have had high levels of knowledge of the workings of the inside of the human body, perhaps indicating surgical knowledge.

 PART 2: LONG ANSWERS (1000 words max. in total; 20 marks)

 (e)        Develop a thesis statement (10 marks)

 Write 500 words which state a thesis based on the two readings, and support that thesis using only the two readings.

Reading 1:

Profits v planet: can big business and the environment get along?

Yossi Sheffi, The Guardian, Fri 7 Sep 2018

Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” It has been more than two decades now since a 1996 issue of Lifemagazine depicted a Pakistani boy sewing a Nike soccer ball, reportedly for six cents per hour. After the story, the company lost more than half its market capitalisation in just one year – it took Nike six years of demonstrated social responsibility to recuperate. Even today Nike is – fairly or unfairly – ranked low on lists of ethical companies. It has survived financially, but the reputation of the brand may never recover.

Environmental reputations can be just as hard to rebuild. NGOs like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund believe in the potential fragility of the environment, and they see the potential fragility of companies’ brands as a means of pressuring them to change.

“When Greenpeace reaches for its toolbox, it tends to find only one tool, and that’s a mallet,” said Scott Poynton, founder of the Forest Trust “and it tends to beat people over the head with it.”

If you want evidence the mallet approach works, consider KitKat. In 2010, Guinness World Records certified that KitKat was the world’s most global brand, sold in more countries than any other that year. But on 17 March that year, Greenpeace released a video parody of a KitKat commercial.

The clip opens with a bored office worker feeding papers into a shredder. Then, the screen turns red with the text “Have a break?” The worker opens a KitKat wrapper, but instead of fingers of chocolate, he finds the finger of an orangutan – complete with tufts of orange hair. Coworkers watch in horror as he crunches into the finger and blood dribbles on to his keyboard. The video urged viewers to “give the orangutan a break” and “stop Nestlé buying palm oil from companies that destroy rainforests”.

Greenpeace used the power of social media to attack fast, far, and wide. In a matter of weeks, 1.5 million people had watched the video.

The attack surprised Nestlé. For one thing, the company thought it had already been addressing the issue. Nestlé had adopted a “no deforestation” policy when directly sourcing palm oil, committing that its palm oil would “not come from areas cleared of natural forest after November 2005”. Nestlé neither produced palm oil nor owned any farms near orangutan habitats, nor had it ever ordered the clearing of rainforests to increase production of palm oil – but one of its suppliers had. Bosses attempted to address the issue by cancelling that supplier’s contracts, a response that initially failed. Although the effects of the campaign on KitKat sales are not publicly known, we can infer they were significant – it took just eight weeks for the company to agree to Greenpeace’s demands.

Public shaming may drive change in some notable instances, but success stories such as this are few and far between. Campaigns from environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace are necessarily targeted, their effectiveness limited to the company or brand under fire. After a summer of heatwaves and forest fires you might think that any CEO worth their salt would have sustainability in mind, whether for righteous (environmental) or unrighteous (PR) reasons. The problem is that sustainability and public image are two of many factors that a company must balance to be successful.

Each and every day CEOs across the world face numerous decisions, and sustainability is just one in a long list of priorities. Few will simply admit that they don’t care, although it is clear from interviews conducted with them that many will only go as far as the customers demand, or only make environmentally positive decisions if they also reduce costs.

When it comes to sustainability in business it may even be necessary to take an entirely agnostic view on the science of climate change. To some extent it is irrelevant whether business executives personally embrace environmentalists’ arguments about “the challenge of our time”, or if they believe it is a hoax. The business merits of sustainability are based on the fact that even the most ardent climate-sceptic company executives face natural resource costs, public relations problems, regulatory burdens, and a green consumer segment.

Regardless of what they may personally believe, they still have to balance whether and how to pursue environmental initiatives, weighing time and resources against many competing demands. Naturally, most of them focus on green initiatives that are aligned with their shareholders’ performance goals.

The dual role of businesses’ supply chains in creating both economic growth (including jobs) and environmental impact highlights a fallacy in the Greenpeace story of “profits v planet”. The environmentalists’ narrative ignores the role of businesses and their supply chains in both employing people and delivering improved standards of living to humanity, especially to the billions of people who have yet to enjoy the plenty that modern industry can provide.

After Walmart’s 2011 pledge to buy more sustainable seafood, Greenpeace contended that Walmart was not doing enough, whereas Alaskan fishermen and state officials complained that Walmart was asking too much of them. The real conflict is not “profits v planet” but rather “some people v other people”. Our challenge is to prove that sustainability benefits everybody, but especially those CEOs whose company profits drive such decision making.Reading 2:

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits

Milton Friedman

The New York Times Magazine

September 13, 1970

(Adapted)

A corporation is an artificial person and in this sense may have artificial responsibilities, but “business” as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense. The first step toward clarity in examining the doctrine of the social responsibility of business is to ask precisely what it implies for whom.

Presumably, the individuals who are to be responsible are businessmen, which means individual proprietors or corporate executives. In a free-enterprise, private-property system, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct responsibility to his employers. That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to their basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom. Of course, in some cases his employers may have a different objective. A group of persons might establish a corporation for an eleemosynary purpose–for example, a hospital or a school. The manager of such a corporation will not have money profit as his objectives but the rendering of certain services.

In either case, the key point is that, in his capacity as a corporate executive, the manager is the agent of the individuals who own the corporation, and his primary responsibility is to them.

What does it mean to say that the corporate executive has a “social responsibility” in his capacity as businessman? If this statement is not pure rhetoric, it must mean that he is to act in some way that is not in the interest of his employers. For example, that he is to make expenditures on reducing pollution beyond the amount that is in the best interests of the corporation or that is required by law in order to contribute to the social objective of improving the environment. In this case, the corporate executive would be spending someone else’s money for a general social interest. Insofar as his actions in accord with his “social responsibility” reduce returns to stockholders, he is spending their money.

The stockholders or the customers or the employees could separately spend their own money on the particular action if they wished to do so. The executive is exercising a distinct “social responsibility,” rather than serving as an agent of the stockholders or the customers or the employees, only if he spends the money in a different way than they would have spent it.

But if he does this, he is in effect imposing taxes, on the one hand, and deciding how the tax proceeds shall be spent, on the other.

The whole justification for permitting the corporate executive to be selected by the stockholders is that the executive is an agent serving the interests of his principal. This justification disappears when the corporate executive imposes taxes and spends the proceeds for “social” purposes.

There is an already too prevalent view that the pursuit of profits is wicked and immoral and must be curbed and controlled by external forces.

The political principle that underlies the market mechanism is unanimity. In an ideal free market resting on private property, no individual can coerce any other, all cooperation is voluntary, all parties to such cooperation benefit or they need not participate. There are not values, no “social” responsibilities in any sense other than the shared values and responsibilities of individuals. Society is a collection of individuals and of the various groups they voluntarily form.

 (f)        Identify counter-arguments (10 marks)

 Write 500 words explaining the counter-arguments which can undermine the argumentsof the NSW government and the NSW Minerals Council in this article.

NSW considers laws to stop courts and planners blocking coalmines on climate grounds

Lisa Cox, SMH, Wed 2 Oct 2019

The New South Wales government is considering legislation that could limit the ability for planning authorities to rule out coalmines projects based on the climate change impact of emissions from the coal once it is burned.

It comes after a campaign from the NSW Minerals Council over decisions that have referenced the impact of “scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions” as a reason for either rejecting a mining project entirely or for imposing conditions on it.

For a coalmine, scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions are from the burning of the coal after it is sold into the market, including overseas.

The planning minister, Rob Stokes, said it was “not appropriate for state governments to impose conditions about emissions policies in other countries”.

He said the government was looking at a range of options, including legislation or a new guideline for how planning authorities should factor scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions into the assessment process.

Court rules out Hunter Valley coalmine on climate change grounds

The recent decisions include the NSW land and environment court’s rejection of the Rocky Hill coalmine in February, which cited the impact the mine would have on climate change, including through the burning of coal in other countries, at a time when “a rapid and deep decrease” in global emissions was urgently needed.

In August, the NSW Independent Planning Commission approved the expanded United Wambocoal project near Singleton but as a condition said the coal could only be exported to countries that have ratified the Paris agreement.

In September the commission rejected the development of a greenfield coalmine in NSW’s Bylong Valley, citing the impact the mine would have on groundwater, agricultural land and on climate change.

The NSW Minerals Council has since launched attack ads that target the planning system for “failing the people of NSW”.

In a statement last week, the council’s chief executive Stephen Galilee said the decision to launch a campaign came after months of “warnings to the minister for planning and others in the government about the risk of the planning system to jobs and investment”.

He said the situation had reached “crisis point” with the Bylong Valley decision.

Stokes said the Minerals Council was one of the stakeholders the government was consulting in its development of a policy on scope 3 emissions.

“We are working with key stakeholders, including the federal government, NSW Minerals Council and consent authorities, to develop a clear policy direction as quickly as possible to provide certainty to the community, industry and investors,” he said.

“We are looking at a range of options including legislation.”

The consent authorities in this instance include the NSW land and environment court.

But environment groups are warning the government not to bow to pressure from the mining industry. Lock the Gate said the impact of downstream greenhouse gas emissions “is arguably the most complicated, severe and lasting environmental impact of NSW’ export coalmines”.

Lock the Gate coordinator George Woods said the public should also have a say in how planning decisions address the climate consequences of coal developments and that should be done through a public hearing process run by the independent planning commission.

“It’s disappointing and frankly dangerous for the planning minister to narrowly consult only with the mining industry on a matter of profound importance like this,” she said.

“The mining industry has flexed its political muscle but the government really needs to address the bigger issue and the public sentiment on this.”

Australia’s vast carbon sink releasing millions of tonnes of CO2 back into atmosphere

Elaine Johnson, the principal lawyer with the Environmental Defenders Office of NSW, which represented Groundswell Gloucester in the Rocky Hill case, said if the government was planning changes to the way planning authorities consider scope 3 emissions, the consultation for that should be broad and include other key stakeholders such as community and environment groups.

“The land and environment court, in the Rocky Hill decision, has confirmed that it is entirely appropriate for decision-makers to impose conditions on projects that will contribute to dangerous climate change in a planning context,” Johnson said.

She said that was recognised by the independent planning commission in the United Wambo and Bylong Valley assessments.

“We would also say that in 2019 we are making planning decisions in a context which includes advice from the world’s best scientists that we’re approaching a climate emergency,” she said.

“If global emissions continue to rise and if serious action is not taken at all levels of government, by communities and business, the impacts of dangerous climate change will be catastrophic.”

The NSW Minerals Council said recent independent planning commission decisions related to emissions generated in other countries were “inconsistent with the Paris agreement and its associated greenhouse gas accounting framework”.

“The NSW government has attempted to clarify its policy on scope 3 emissions through correspondence to the IPC but this has been disregarded,” Galilee told Guardian Australia. “The NSW government must therefore provide legislative and policy certainty on this issue.”