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Business and the key competencies

Teachers should regard the key competencies described on page 12–13 of The New Zealand Curriculum and implicit in Ngā Mātāpono (principles) and Ngā Uara, Ngā Waiaro (values and attitudes) of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (pages 10–11) as valued resources and outcomes in any business-learning programme.

Relating to others

The ability to relate to other people is essential in business and in the classroom. Business studies students need to be able to communicate with diverse groups of people in different situations (see below, under Using language, symbols, and texts). Learning in co-operative learning groups can foster the development of this ability, and experiential learning can give students opportunities to relate to a variety of stakeholders and to discover that the ability to work positively will determine their own success and that of others.

Unuhia te rito o te harakeke kei whea te kōmako e ko?

Whakataerangitia – rere ki uta, rere ki tai;

Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao,

Māku e kī atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata!

Take away the heart of the flax bush and where will the kōmako sing?

Proclaim it to the land; proclaim it to the sea;

Ask me what is the greatest thing in the world,

I will reply it is people, it is people, it is people!


Students of business studies need to be able to access and use different kinds of thinking to:

  • understand business theory and other, related knowledge
  • use their existing knowledge of business theory and other, related knowledge to solve problems and make decisions
  • be resourceful, for example, by recognising existing business opportunities and creating new ones
  • recognise the need for reciprocity, for example, by engaging with others and utilising their strengths
  • think laterally, outside the square
  • be creative and innovative within a business context
  • take risks, for example, by making decisions when they are uncertain of the best response (that is, knowing what to do when they don’t know what to do)
  • critically analyse a business situation
  • reflect on and evaluate their own or group decisions
  • demonstrate resilience by learning from their mistakes and transferring this learning into new contexts.

Using language, symbols, and texts

Business studies has its own language and a lot of subject-specific terminology in both formal and informal registers. Students of business studies need to be able to use the appropriate language. Being able to communicate effectively will increase a student’s ability to succeed in any business venture in any setting. The ability to relate to other people from a variety of cultures is important to New Zealand’s economic transformation, so it is important that students develop 'cultural intelligence'. They may also need to learn to communicate in one or more additional languages.

Cultural intelligence is a term used to describe the knowledge, skills, and other attributes that enable a person to adapt their communication style to suit the culture of the audience. For example, the approach and skills needed to conduct a business meeting in a Chinese setting differ from those needed in an Australian setting. One size does not fit all, even within the same country. In New Zealand, for example, different approaches are needed for different iwi or people of different age groups.

Business studies requires students to recognise, use, and interpret numbers, images, and formulas to solve issues, create processes, and manage the day-to-day operations of a business.

Managing self

Self-awareness and a willingness to learn are qualities that enhance students’ personal growth in the classroom. In addition, a 'can do' attitude and personal resilience are required to succeed in business, so students of business need to be encouraged to develop these qualities. Students will benefit from opportunities for self-directed learning and self-evaluation. Encouraging successful business leaders to share their experiences will contribute to the students’ understanding and may offer them motivational role models.

The NZCER’s evaluation of the work of the Education for Enterprise (E4E) clusters found that students “often considered they worked harder, longer or set higher standards for themselves on their education for enterprise projects when compared with other school work”. To learn more, view this NZCER report.

Participating and contributing

Business studies students engage with the businesses of their families, whānau, and communities. Teachers should aim for business–student relationships based on partnerships in which students and businesses learn from each other and achieve shared goals. Encourage your students to give carefully considered feedback to these businesses as part of their applied learning.

Students learn about reciprocity and co-operation with others when they work in business teams, with each member contributing their own strengths and ideas, and they learn about the importance of balancing the rights, roles, and responsibilities of all stakeholders and of contributing to the sustainability of social, cultural, physical, and economic environments.

Last updated August 9, 2012