Business & ManagementIB

Business sectors

Business sectors.....Primary sector....Secondary sector....Tertiary sector....Quaternary sector...

Primary sector

  • The extraction, harvesting, and conversion of natural resources.
  • Most prevalent in LEDCs. Primary sectors in MEDCs use more automated methods.
  • The primary sector has little added value.
  • Examples: coal mining, vegetable harvesting.

Secondary sector

  • Manufacturing or construction of products by transforming the raw materials produced in the primary sector.
  • Economically developing countries tend to dominate this sector.
  • Examples: clothing production, car manufacturing.

Tertiary sector

  • Provides services to the general population.
  • Tend to be dominant in MEDCs.
  • Examples: haircuts, taxi service.

Quaternary sector

  • A subcategory of the tertiary sector.
  • Involved in intellectual, knowledge based activities that generate and share information.
  • Requires a highly educated workforce, and therefore is most prominent in MEDCs.
  • Example: law firms, training and development firms.
Business sectors

The classification of business sectors into primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary represents a framework for understanding the various activities that constitute an economy. This classification helps in analyzing the distribution of economic activities and their contribution to the economic development of a country. Each sector focuses on a different stage of production and services, playing a unique role in the economy. Understanding these sectors is crucial for IB Business & Management students as it provides a foundational perspective on how economies are structured and operate. This comprehensive analysis explores each of these sectors with relevant industry examples.

Primary Sector

Definition: The primary sector involves the extraction and harvesting of natural products from the earth, such as agriculture, mining, forestry, and fishing. This sector forms the base of all economic activities as it provides raw materials for other sectors.

Example: De Beers, a leading company in the mining sector, specializes in diamond exploration, mining, and trading. The company’s operations, which involve extracting diamonds from the earth, epitomize the primary sector’s role in providing raw materials for the secondary sector, where these diamonds are cut, polished, and manufactured into jewelry.

Secondary Sector

Definition: The secondary sector includes industries that produce a finished, usable product or are involved in construction. This sector transforms raw materials, obtained from the primary sector, into manufactured goods and products.

Example: Toyota Motor Corporation represents the secondary sector through its manufacturing activities. Toyota takes steel, rubber, glass, and other materials (sourced from the primary sector) to produce automobiles in its factories, showcasing the transformation of raw materials into finished goods.

Tertiary Sector

Definition: The tertiary sector delivers services instead of goods, including retail and wholesale sales, entertainment, and financial services. This sector is concerned with offering intangible goods and services to consumers and businesses.

Example: Amazon operates predominantly within the tertiary sector through its e-commerce platform, offering retail services by connecting consumers with a vast array of products. Additionally, Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides cloud computing services to businesses, underscoring the diverse nature of services in the tertiary sector.

Quaternary Sector

Definition: The quaternary sector is a subset of the tertiary sector, focusing on knowledge-based activities involving services such as information technology, research and development (R&D), financial planning, and other knowledge-based services. This sector is characterized by the reliance on intellectual capabilities rather than physical input or output.

Example: Google exemplifies the quaternary sector through its focus on information technology and innovation. The company’s core activities include search engine services, digital advertising, software development, and various forms of digital content. Google’s significant investment in R&D to drive technological advancement places it firmly within the quaternary sector.


The division of the economy into primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary sectors provides a structured way to understand the different activities that contribute to economic growth and development. Each sector plays a distinct role, from the extraction of natural resources and manufacturing of goods to the provision of services and knowledge-based activities. The examples of De Beers, Toyota, Amazon, and Google highlight the diverse nature of economic activities within these sectors, emphasizing the interconnectedness of these sectors in a modern economy. For IB Business & Management students, grasping the characteristics and contributions of each sector is essential for analyzing business operations, economic trends, and the broader economic environment.


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