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The Limits of SWOT Analysis

An evaluation of an organization's strengths and weaknesses with respect to environmental threats and opportunities is called a SWOT analysis, capturing the notion that organizations have "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats" ("What Is SWOT Analysis," 1). SWOT has a long history as a tool of strategic and marketing analysis that has been featured in strategy textbooks since the early 1970s. Its advocates "say that it can be used to gauge the degree of 'fit' between the organization's strategies and its environment, and to suggest ways in which the organization can profit from strengths and opportunities and shield itself against weaknesses and threats" ("What Is SWOT Analysis," 1).

Though this approach to analyzing a company's competencies and opportunities has been used for some time and is recommended by many analysts, SWOT is increasingly being criticized by those who regard it as overly simplistic. It is this criticism that will be explored and supported herein.

There is no doubt that SWOT analysis is one of the best known of all theoretical frameworks in management. Adrian Haberberg (1) describes it as simple to understand and as widely accepted among managers as having a strong foundation in theory and in empirical research. However, Haberberg (1) asserts that there is "no piece of underlying theory that shows how, by examining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and only those four factors, we can arrive at a compete appraisal of the organization's position." Among the objections to this analysis are recognition that the simplicity of the technique often leads people to use it sloppily so that the results are not typically helpful (Haberberg 1). SWOT is not a particularly precise analytical framework because simply identifying what one considers to be businesses' strengths and weaknesses does not give any direction as to how strengths can be leveraged and weaknesses eliminated. <...

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The Limits of SWOT Analysis. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 05:24, July 04, 2022, from