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Business Strategy Review, 2003, Volume 14 Issue 2 pp 8-10


Bringing SWOT into focus
George Panagiotou suggests an improvement on a long-standing strategic planning tool.

In a rapidly changing and highly
diversified world characterised by
strong domestic and global
competition, organisations struggle
to survive. Political and economic
upheavals, expanding industry
boundaries, competitive activities,
co-operative engagements and
varied philosophies impose a
multitude of constraints that firms
have to cope with.
Continuously transforming
technologies, deregulation, everincreasing consumer demands and expectations cause pressure and
place companies under continuous
risk and uncertainty when
formulating strategies. Complex
organisational internal issues,
effective application,
complementarity and co-ordination
of resource requirements, paired
with internal politics and the need to
accomplish levels of excellence,
create tension.
Consequently, organisations do not
exist in a vacuum but rather they
exist, co-exist, compete and cooperate in a multi-dimensional and interrelated environment
characterised by ambiguity and
complexity. Understanding this
environment is fundamental to
formulating strategy, decision
making and strategic planning.
As a result, there is a proliferation of
strategic planning tools to enable
managers to formulate competitive
strategies in line with the

Business Strategy Review

requirements of their business
environments. These include
strengths, weaknesses, opportunities
and threats (SWOT) analysis, which
may well be used more than any
other management technique in the
process of decision making.
SWOT analysis is concerned with the
analysis of an organisation’s internal
and external environment with the aim
of identifying internal strengths in
order to take advantage of its external
opportunities and avoid external (and
possible internal) threats, while
addressing its weaknesses.
SWOT analysis originated from
efforts at Harvard Business School
to analyse case studies. In the early
1950s, two Harvard business policy
professors, George Albert Smith Jr
and C Roland Christensen, started
to investigate organisational
strategies in relation to their
environment. In ...

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