As an educational term, business administration has come to encompass an extraordinary number of academic study areas. As business has become more complex, so too has the oversight of companies: their management, their growth strategies, their personnel issues, their taxes and the role that taxes play in corporate economic strategy. Advertising has grown to include multiple media outlets and an assortment of targeted interest groups: new customers, repeat customers, stockholders, investors and new geographic markets. Marketing has become the term of choice for all of this strategically placed product exposure.
Defining business administration then means defining oversight roles for the assortment of internal specialties that every business of any size has come to include. That is why business administration degrees are now offered with a remarkable number of categorical specialties available as choices of study. Perhaps the best way to define business administration is to look at the types of courses offered in MBA curriculums and the specialties, or “majors,” that one can opt for in an MBA program.
For a large corporation, business administration is going to include international and global business, as well as strategy and economics. In this instance, the definition of business administration will include requirements of certain cultural differences and an acute understanding of the global economy and its current fluidity. Also included in business administration at this scale is the art and science of acquisition: when to buy a company or property and why.
Business administration will always include the intangible quality of leadership; you can obtain an MBA that specializes in just that. Along with leadership comes the task of negotiation and conflict resolution, specifically with regard to personnel. Behavioral psychology plays an important role in business administration: a misstep in an adversarial situation with a union can take a company under, as it did Continental Airlines some years ago.
The definition of business administration will have to include marketing; you won’t have a business to administer unless you sell your products. Ancillary to marketing is an understanding of the new tools available for product distribution, and that will involve understanding e-business and how it is rapidly evolving.
Whether you are working with distributors that are small businesses or you are starting your own business, business administration includes an understanding of entrepreneurship: tax structures for small businesses along with personnel issues at that level, inventory and cash flow, and all the other small matters that make a big difference to a new or small business.
A critical part of business administration is the awareness of risk. This might include the risk of launching a new product, and the costs involved; the risk of an acquisition, the risk of a competitive strategy, the company’s exposure in opting for this health plan instead of that one. There are risks involved in other personnel decisions and this area is of tangible importance: company morale is a key to productivity and the resultant profitability.
There are MBA courses taught in all of these areas, and MBA degrees that specialize in many of them. The definition of business administration includes whatever knowledge is required to make all of these components work productively, if not in complete harmony.