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Business & Management

A research guide for topics in business and management.

SWOT and PESTLE Analyses

Overview

SWOT and PESTLE are strategy frameworks used to analyze a company’s financial health and competitive advantages or disadvantages. These strategy tools were created to analyze internal and external forces affecting a company or industry. Examining a company's internal capabilities (SWOT) and external environment (PESTLE), helps to create strategies that can proactively contend with organizational challenges. In this guide, you can find an overview of each tool, as well as information on how to find these items within the library collection. 

SWOT Overview

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis is a tool that you use to analyze these aspects of a company. A SWOT is often represented as a grid with four quadrants. 

colored table with four quadrants labeled strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

You can learn more about the SWOT analysis here:  

Find a SWOT

Many of our databases carry SWOT analyses on publicly traded companies. Learn how to find a SWOT analysis in each of the below databases: 

  1. From the Advanced Search page, type your company name into the search bar 
  2. Scroll down to “Publication Type” and choose “SWOT Analysis” 
  3. Click search 
  1. Search for company name or by ticker symbol 
  2. From the company page, choose the “Company Reports” tab 
  3. Click “Broker Research Reports” (located just under tabs) 
  4. View reports (Tip: GlobalData reports generally include SWOTs) 

What if I can't find a SWOT on my company?

Some companies will not have SWOTs in the library databases. Generally, only large, publicly traded companies are covered. If you cannot find a ready-made SWOT for your company, you can use a combination of resources and information about your company, competitors, and industry to conduct your own SWOT analysis. Try to identify peer companies with the same or similar products and services or who are operating in the same market. Read critically to infer the situation and setting of your company.  

For more information about researching a company, please see:

For more information on researching an industry, please see:

What if I found one through the open web/Google/Bing/etc.?

While you can run a general internet search for a company SWOT, free web-sourced SWOTs can often be dated and unreliable. Pay close attention to the date and who is behind the information. Of course, you can use the open web to research your company in order to create your own SWOT, just be sure to use current company information or news. If you have any questions about the reliability of information you find online, please ask a librarian. 

PESTLE Overview

Like SWOT, PESTLE is an acronym—it stands for Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, Technical, Legal, and Environmental. Unlike SWOT, which is tied to analyzing a specific company’s internal capabilities, PESTLE is designed examine a company’s external environment. Sometimes referred to as “scanning the business environment,” a PESTLE is meant to be a macro or “big picture” look at the market in which your business operates.  

Depending on the context of your course, the reason for assessing these external forces may vary. Refer to your assignment instructions for further information about how and why you may be performing a PESTLE analysis. For more about the specific components of a PESTLE, please see the following articles:  

Find a PESTLE

Depending on the context of your assignment, you are almost always going to be working within a particular area (aka. market or environment) when creating a PESTLE. Using resources found in our "Research a Country" guide can help you identify some of PESTLE components for your specific market. You will occasionally find a readymade PESTLE within these reports. However, most of the time, you will have to pull the component parts of a PESTLE analysis from multiple data sources and compile them yourself. 

If you want to analyze a smaller market/environment in the US, like a city or state, we recommend checking out Data USA, Statista, and local government websites for information on your area.