To what extent is conflict detrimental to decision making?
Students are required to write an academic essay. Produce an essay on below topic of no more than 2,000 words:
– To what extent is conflict detrimental to decision making?
Essays: A Guide
An essay is a piece of work in which you are asked to discuss and analyse a subject or present an argument. When approaching an essay, it is important that you read the question carefully as many essays often fail to answer the question asked.
If you are uncertain what is required of you, discuss the question with your tutor or marker. As interim assistance, there are common ways that lecturers phrase essay questions that give an insight into they type of discussion they would like to see:
- a) Discuss/Consider: Explore a range of ideas and points of view on the topic. Note and outline the strengths and weaknesses of the points of view you have discussed. Be thorough in your review of the subject and be as balanced in your discussion as is possible.
- b) Compare/Contrast: : These two words belong to the same analytical process. If you are asked to compare, emphasise the similarities between two things; if you are asked to contrast, emphasise the differences. If you are asked to both compare and contrast, discuss both the similarities and differences with equal weighting.
- c) Assess/Evaluate/Comment: In this instruction, you are being asked to determine the impact or importance of something. You are required to weigh up the evidence and give a considered opinion or judgement.
- d) Summarise/Outline/Describe/Explain/Define: You are required to select and discuss the main features or points, to give an overview of events or development and often, to précis something. Give a clear, well-organised account or outline. Attempt to make difficult concepts understandable. You might need to discuss the development of the issue or topic.
- e) Demonstrate/Illustrate: Using reasoning or statements of evidence, you are required to prove something. You may be required to apply a theory or model to demonstrate an application.
- f) Criticise/Critique/Examine/Critically Discuss: Inspect closely, investigate and question the multiple aspects of a perspective, statement, point of view, position or argument. Note that for academics to criticise something does not mean looking exclusively at the negative aspects of the issue. You should look at the topic with reasoned inquiry, accepting nothing at face value.
- g) Argue: Set out a case for a particular point of view. Use reasoning and evidence to set out a discussion aimed at convincing the reader of something. Anticipate flaws in the case and address them before your argument is undermined.
Essays are important because, as well as being a compulsory part of your course work, they help you to think. While you write you organise and develop your knowledge and ideas. You discover what you don’t know as well as what you do know. You learn to argue well and to explain yourself (a pre- requisite to successful business!). Essay writing is good practice in expressing yourself and, in practical terms, it prepares you for exams. Finally, essays indicate to your tutors how well you are grasping their subjects, and give them an opportunity to provide useful feedback.
There are several stages in essay writing.
- Before you start writing an essay, make sure you understand what the question or title means, what you are expected to do (see previous section).
- You will then be expected to use sources recommended by your tutor but also to read widely beyond this. Ask questions of your tutor to clear up confusing areas. Use other sources as well; ideas might arise in lectures, TV programmes, newspapers etc. Keep notes of material that is useful, and ideas that spring unexpectedly into your head (NEVER underestimate the value of your own thoughts).
- Plan your essay in note form. This plan is not to please your tutor but to save time for you and to ensure that your essay is organised and structured. You might spend up to one-third of your writing time on the essay plan; the time spent will repay you. Your essay should have an introduction, body and conclusion, and be organised in paragraphs, each of which has an identifiable theme.
- Write your essay. It is useful to write a rough draft first so that the essay can be improved and revised before submission. (Word processors are invaluable for this!)
- When your essay is written, ask yourself: • Did I answer the question?
• Did I go into enough depth?
• Is the content relevant?
- Is the content accurate?
- Do the sections of the essay connect logically and clearly?
- Are all references and sources acknowledged?
- Are main points, especially opinions, supported by examples and argument?
- Is the language and meaning clear?
- Is the presentation legible, neat and well laid out?
- Have I proof-read it to correct mistakes of spelling, punctuation and grammar?
- Is it too long or too short?
It is very helpful to show a rough draft of your essay to someone that you trust in order to check whether they understand it and to receive their opinion.
The way an essay is structured makes a huge impact on its quality. A well-structured essay makes its argument clearly and effectively and is easy to read. The clearest and simplest way you can structure an essay is to:
- Say what you are going to say (the introduction).
- Say it (the body of the essay).
- Say that you have said it (the conclusion).
Does this sound repetitive and boring? Not to the reader. To the reader it provides a clear and straightforward answer to the question posed.
“An essay is not like a short story – it does not require a surprise ending. The reader wants to know exactly what you are talking about” (Emerson, 1995, p. 45).
The objective in writing the introduction is to tell the reader your basic argument. Or to put it another way, having read the introduction, the reader should know what you are going to say in the essay.
The introduction should:
- begin with some general statements about the topic, then
- outline the main points you are going to make in the body of the essay, and
- finish with the key idea you are putting forward.
The introduction should be able to stand alone as an answer to the question. The reader should be able to read the introduction and say ‘so this essay is about …’.
Don’t worry about dramatic opening eye-catching statements or the presentation of some intriguing paradox unless you are already a master of the well-structured introduction. No clever turn of phrase is a substitute for clear and simple argument.
The objective in writing the body of the essay is to tell the reader your argument in detail.
The body of the essay should be structured as you have indicated in your introduction. If you say in your introduction that you are going to examine six major features of strategic planning, then examine six major features of strategic planning in your essay.
Each point of your argument as outlined in your introduction can be presented in detail in one or two paragraphs. Once the first point has been made, present the next point, and so on.
The key idea of each paragraph should be contained in the first sentence. The rest of the paragraph is to elaborate and provide support for this idea. Thus it should be possible to read the first sentence of each paragraph in the essay and understand your argument.
The objective in writing the conclusion is to reiterate your argument to the reader. You should not introduce new material in your conclusion; the place for this is in the body of the essay.
The conclusion should:
• summarise the main points made in the essay, then
• relate these points to the key idea underlying your argument, and • lead to a broad final statement.
Your conclusion should be able to stand alone as an answer to the question. The reader should be able to read the conclusion and say ‘so this essay is about …’. This also provides you with a quick check on the consistency and thoroughness of your argument. Does my conclusion answer the question? Is this the same answer as in the introduction and the body of the essay?