Research Proposal for my project:

My research concept: My research objective is to compare the business, financial and non financial performance of two of the largest oil companies in the world i.e. Royal Dutch shell and BP for the last two finical years 2010 and 2011. BP is the 3rd largest energy company and 4th largest company in the world measured by revenues in 2011 (Fortune, 2011) and is one of the six “super majors” of oil and gas industry. Royal Dutch Shell plc commonly known as Shell is the 2nd largest company by 2011 revenue and  one of the six oil and gas companies.

Shell is also one of the world’s most valuable companies as of September 2011 (Market cap rankings 2011). Both of these companies are almost identical in operations, size and revenue. So it is reasonable to compare them with each other.

Theory and principles: As far as the business performance of the two companies is concerned probably the most accurate way would be to conduct the SWOT analysis to identify the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats of the two companies however there are Certain aspects which are not in the control of management i.e. economic environment, government legislation import restrictions etc.

Another useful business model would be to look at PESTEL analysis to find out the Political, Economical, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal environment the two companies are operating in however we have to be aware of the fact that PESTEL analysis takes into account the external factors that may affect the company, but these external factor can sometime change very quickly, thus making it difficult predicting how these factors will affect the company.

Porters 5Forces can also be a useful business model to tell us about the industry the two companies are operating in. On the other hand in order to compare the financial performance of the two companies financial ratios can be very useful. We can look at profitability, gearing and share holders ratios of the two companies in order to find out which company has performed batter, however Ratios  only deal with financial data i.e. numbers, they do not take into consideration issues like quality of the product, morale of the employees and customer service, which also play an important part in the performance of a company.

. We also have to look at other factors which can greatly affect the performance of the two companies e.g. the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spell which had a huge impact on the profitability as well as the general image of BP.

Methodology: My research will be mainly based on secondary data which includes the financial statements of BP and Shell including statement of financial position, statement of comprehensive income, statement of changes in equity and statement of cash flow. For my main research objectives, I will be looking at the financial statements of BP and Shell for the year 2010 and 2011.however in my research I will also use some primary data which includes questionnaires and face to face interviews. I will have to visit Shell and BP garages to have an idea of the business model they apply and the services they offer.

However there are some limitations associate with the method of data collection I have selected, first of all while questionnaire and face to face interviews can be useful in the sense that it provides a firsthand source of data without any manipulation and editing however for it to be very accurate we have to enhance the pool of individuals taking part in the questionnaire and in the interview in order to have a full picture of the views of broader society.

Moreover the financial statements which will be the basis of the majority of the research and analysis can also sometimes not depict the whole picture and we will have to make sure that the financial statements represent a true and fair view of the financial position and financial performance of the company. we will also have to insure to get our secondary data from the most authentic sources available in order to increase the reliability of our data.

^ “Market Cap Rankings”. Ycharts. Zacks Investment Research.

April 8, 2012. Retrieved April 9, 2012.