Academic journal article Journal of Business Economics and Management

SWOT Methodology: A State-of-the-Art Review for the Past, a Framework for the future/SSGG Metodologija: Praeities Ir Ateities Analize?

Academic journal article Journal of Business Economics and Management

SWOT Methodology: A State-of-the-Art Review for the Past, a Framework for the future/SSGG Metodologija: Praeities Ir Ateities Analize?

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Among many fads and fashions emerging constantly in strategic management field, during the recent decades, the SWOT framework has enjoyed outstanding popularity among both researchers and practitioners. This tool includes environmental analysis (the process of scanning the business environment for threats and opportunities) and the organizational analysis (the process of analyzing a firm's strengths and weaknesses) (Fig. 1).

SWOT analysis is a widely used tool for analyzing internal and external environments in order to attain a systematic approach and support for decision situations.

The impressive ability of SWOT is the matching of specific internal and external factors, which provides a strategic matrix that makes sense. It is essential to note that the internal factors are within the control of the organization, for instance, finance, operations, marketing, and other areas. On the other hand, the external factors are out of the organization>s control, such as the economic and political factors, new technologies, and its competition. The SWOT matrix consists of four combinations which are called the maxi-maxi (strengths / opportunities), maxi-mini (strengths/ threats), mini-maxi (weaknesses/opportunities), and mini-mini (weaknesses/threats) (Weihrich 1982).

Although the SWOT analysis dates back to 50's and 60's (1), Weihrich (1982) that introduced SWOT matrix as a tool for situation analysis, can be regarded as the most important reference in this field that has provided some classic examples.

After that time, SWOT has been pointed in most of the references of strategic planning. Although this analysis seems out of date in comparison with recent approaches such as resource-based planning and competency-based planning Dyson (2004) pointing out the relation between SWOT and two above approaches could show that SWOT is such a flexible framework which can combine with newer methods to offer novel methods. Although strategic planning has a lot of instruments and many approaches, thousands of researches and hundreds of papers have utilized SWOT in recent years. So we will review those papers in section 2.

Papers of SWOT applications in different industries will be mentioned in section 3. Also the numerous papers that have mentioned the SWOT weaknesses and shortages and combining other instruments and techniques, have tried to modify its methodology will be described in section 4. Integrating SWOT with other methods is reviewed in section5. Finally, concluding remarks on SWOT trends, methodology and applications in published papers will be presented in section 6.

The aim of this paper is reviewing the literature of SWOT to answer questions such as: "what research methods are most commonly used?", "what topics and areas are treated most often in the SWOT field?", "what is the scope of these studies?" and "which journals or countries stand out with highest number of papers using this technique?". Such questions have already been raised with the objective: "to improve our knowledge in this field".

It is hoped that this paper could serve the needs of interested readers for references of SWOT studies and applications, and hence promote the future development of SWOT.

2. Review of published SWOT papers

2.1. Data collection

We decided to focus our study on papers published in refereed journals, not therefore including sources such as books or papers presented at conferences. This was based on the belief that academics and practitioners usually prefer using journals to acquire and disseminate novel knowledge. Other resources, such as books, are generally confined to the dissemination of previously established knowledge.

Therefore the papers were checked that there was, SWOT' or, TOWS' acronym in title, abstract or keywords of them.

To conduct this literature review, databases have been searched and papers that have been published in indexed journals, up to the end of 2009, were recognized. …

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