IA accounts for 25% of the final grade in Business and Management and it’s something students should put an effort into in order to get a 7. This post is for those who want to know how to start writing IA and the detailed structure for IA in BM.

1. Plan a Schedule First

Some students might be struggling with what to do first, but planning a schedule makes it easier for you to imagine what it’s going to look like when you finish writing a certain part of the IA. HL students are required to make an “action plan” in a research proposal, so they can use this part as their own schedule and follow it. Having a schedule also helps you manage your time wisely considering other assignments or assessment schedules, which would be a good reason for SL students to make a schedule beforehand as well.

Here are the main steps for writing the IA in Business and Management:

  1. Choose an existing business for your IA
  2. Set a Research Question
  3. Collect data for your analysis (HL students need to use primary sources)
  4. Do the research based on your RQ
  5. Write the report following the structure

2. How to Choose a Business

The core of your IA will be the business you choose and your choice here might determine the quality of your IA later on. So we recommend you to check if the business is worth doing the research following these questions.

2.1 Is there enough information about this business?

When you want to write good quality IA, it should have data from different perspectives and different kinds of resources. Especially SL students will only take secondary research so it is wise to choose a business that has various information on the internet.

2.2 Can you access to the information you need?

It’s not only about whether there’s enough information about the business, but also “whether the information can be used or not” will be an important factor when you’re doing the research. Major businesses usually publish their information, but make sure what kind of information you can access beforehand.

2.3 Can you get in contact with someone inside the business? (HL only)

HL students need to be more careful with choosing the business since they have to do primary research. If you want to have an interview, you need to be able to communicate with an employee to set the meeting, etc. An interview is one of the primary research methods so it’s not mandatory but having contact with someone inside the business will let you have one more option available for your research.

3. How to Set a Research Question

In addition to the choice of business, the Research Question may also determine the quality of your IA. It’s not uncommon for students to rewrite the whole report just because they set the research question that didn’t quite work out. To carry out your research smoothly, make sure you consider the following when coming up with your Research Question.

3.1 Is your Research Question not broad nor narrow?

The word count for IA in Business and Management is 2,000 words so you need to make sure your research can fit into the word count. It’s not easy to estimate the right range of your focus points from the beginning, so you can adjust it as you carry out the research.

Here’s a good example of adjusting the RQ:

“Should company A invest more in marketing to increase their overall profitability?”

↑ This one is too broad for a RQ and 2,000 words will not be enough to write the report.

“Should company A invest more in marketing to increase the profitability of product A?”

↑ This one is not too broad nor narrow for 2,000 words and the purpose of the research will be much clear too.

3.2 Can you get enough information related to your RQ?

Even if your RQ is good and worth doing the research, it won’t work out with little information that is related to your RQ. So, whether you have enough sources and whether you can access the source will need to be taken into account when considering your RQ. For example, if your IA focuses on the marketing of company A and there’s not enough information about their marketing, you just have to change your focus points.

4. Overall Structure of IA in Business and Management

Section Recommended Word count Contents

Executive Summary

(HL only)

200 words

(not counted in the main report)

Summary of contents in the main report

  • Background and outline of RQ and research
  • RQ
  • Business tools used in IA
  • Primary and secondary sources
  • Results
  • Limitation of the research

HL: 200 words

SL: 150 words

  • Name and summary of the business
  • Current strategies and problems of the business
  • RQ
  • Units related to the research 
Methodology HL/SL: 200 words
  • Methods of the research and types of sources (HL: Make it clear the research used more than two primary sources)
  • Business tools used in IA
  • Pros of using the sources

Main Results and Findings

(HL only)

HL: 300 words
  • The main points from primary and secondary research (Details should be in appendices to secure the word count)
  • Use graphs, figures, tables when possible
Analysis and Discussion HL/SL: 900 words
  • Use figures when possible to save word count
  • Balanced use of data from each source is recommended

HL: 200 words

SL: 250 words

  • Do not introduce new points here
  • Summarize the points drawn from analysis and discussion and answer RQ directly
  • Explain a few limitations of this research


(HL only)

HL: 200 words
  • At least three recommendations
  • Suggest new topics or research questions that are worth doing research based on the conclusion (to get a full mark in this section!)
Work Cited not counted in the main report
  • Sources you used as reference
  • At least two primary sources
Appendicies not counted in the main report
  • Sources or graphs you used as reference
  • The calculation process of financial data
  • Written conversation from the interview (HL only)
  • Results of the questionnaire (HL only)

These are not included in the word count:

  • Acknowledgment
  • Table of Contents
  • Data Tables
  • Diagrams or Figures
  • Equations
  • Formulae and Calculations
  • Citations
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices

4.1 Structure of Research Proposal (HL only)

HL students must submit a Research Proposal with the IA. The Research Proposal is a planning reference before starting the research, so students should write it in future tense.

Section  Contents
Research Question

State your Research Question


What are the benefits of carrying out this research for the business? How does this connect to business problems and market opportunities?

Theoretical Framework

Introduce which topics and business tools are related to the investigation. Explain their significance in answering RQ.


Outline primary and secondary sources used for the investigation. If you do the interview, identify who is taking the interview and why this person is chosen for the interview.

Anticipated Difficulties

Outline possible risks you might face in the investigation and how you will deal with them.

Action Plan

Summarize the schedule of how you carry out your investigation. Make sure to specify the dates you will finish each step. If you adjust the schedule after writing the action plan, clarify where you adjusted.

5. Tips for IA in Business and Management

5.1 Use At Least One Unique Source

You could get higher marks just for using a unique source for your research if it is beyond the examiner’s expectation and convince them that you’re putting a lot of effort into IA. For example, using a dissertation, resources on competitors, and interviews with competitors might be very hard but worth doing if you think about the depth of the research.

5.2 Choose Sources That can Help Answer RQ

Try to avoid using a source that is not related to your RQ. The written report especially requires logical expansion, so don’t waste time, word count, and energy to use unnecessary sources.

5.3 Explain Sources with Qualitative Data First

Explaining qualitative data first allows you to clarify the background of your research and it makes it easier for readers to understand what quantitative data is suggesting too. If you’re in HL, make sure to explain primary research and secondary research separately.

5.4 Try to Use as Many Business Terminologies as Possible

By using many business terminologies precisely, your report becomes more likely to convince examiners of your understanding about the course.