Answered By: Cynthia Thomes
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2024     Views: 3260

Some UMGC class assignments will ask you to find or create SWOT, PEST/PESTEL/PESTLE, Porter’s five forces, and/or value chain analyses of a company or industry.

What’s a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is an examination of a company or industry’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For more information, see SWOT analysis.

What’s a PEST/PESTEL/PESTLE analysis?

A PEST analysis is an examination of the political, economic, sociocultural, and technological factors that are affecting a company or industry or that could potentially affect it. The additional L and E in PESTEL/PESTLE stand for legal and environmental/ecological factors. For more information, see PEST analysis.

What’s a Porter’s five forces analysis?

Corporate strategy expert Michael Porter’s five forces analysis tool involves determining how a given company or industry is doing based on:

  1. the threat of new entrants to the market
  2. the threat of substitute products and/or services
  3. the bargaining power of suppliers
  4. the bargaining power of customers
  5. industry competition

For more information, see Porter's five forces.

What's a value chain analysis?

Michael Porter introduced the term “value chain” (in a 1985 book titled The competitive advantage: Creating and sustaining superior performance) to refer to all of the activities -- primary activities as well as support activities -- that are involved in making a product or providing a service.

In a value chain analysis, each of the activities in a company’s value chain is examined in order to determine how each of the activities adds to or subtracts value from the company’s product(s) or service(s) and whether there are any opportunities for improvement.

For more information, see Value chain and What is a value chain analysis? 3 steps.


Where can I find information for a SWOT, PEST/PESTEL/PESTLE, Porter’s five forces, and/or value chain analysis?

SWOT analyses can sometimes be found in certain UMGC Library databases; see Business Research: SWOT Analysis Research for more information.

You will almost never find a PEST/PESTEL/PESTLE, Porter’s five forces, or value chain analysis for a given company in a UMGC Library database. (Porter's five forces analyses are available for select industries in CFRA industry surveys and in MarketLine industry profiles available from Business Source Ultimate, however, and the Competitive Landscape section of IBISWorld industry reports also provide information relevant to a Porter's five forces analysis.) You’ll usually need to create your own analysis by consulting a variety of sources in order to learn as much as possible about the company and the environment in which it’s operating.

Some useful sources of information include:

  • a company's own website; in particular, information provided for investors and/or for the media (rather than information provided for customers) may be useful
  • a company's annual reports or 10-K reports, etc.; see Business Research: Finding a Company's Annual Report
  • details about a company's competition; see Business Research: Finding a Company's Competitors
  • a company's financial information; see Business Research: Finding a Company's Financial Information
  • newspaper articles about a company; you can use UMGC Library databases such as News & Newspapers (ProQuest) and Nexis Uni to find these
    • You can then run searches along the lines of [company name] AND [term of interest]. For example, to find articles that discuss political factors affecting Home Depot, you could search for: "home depot" AND (politic* OR government*); to find articles that discuss economic factors affecting Home Depot, you could search for "home depot" AND econom*; etc.
  • magazine and/or journal articles about a company; you can use UMGC Library databases such as ABI/INFORM Complete and Business Source Ultimate to find these
    • As with newspapers, you can then run searches along the lines of [company name] AND [term of interest]. For example, to find articles that directly discuss Starbucks’ value chain/competitive advantage, you could search for: starbucks AND ("value chain*" OR "competitive advantage*") You could also search for articles that discuss a company and one or more of the activities that are part of its value chain; so, for example, you could search for: starbucks AND "customer service"