SWOT analysis

The SWOT analysis (English acronym for Strengths (strengths ), Weaknesses ( weaknesses ) Opportunities (opportunities ) and threats ( risks) ) is an instrument of strategic planning; it serves the positioning and strategy development by companies and other organizations.

Development and application

The SWOT analysis is an important tool of strategic management and also the basis of many marketing strategies. In the 1960s, it was developed at the Harvard Business School for use in business. According to Henry Mintzberg it is the basis of almost all attempts to formalize the process of strategy development ( a strategy is a creative, entrepreneurial creation, which leads to innovations and no formal process such as a cooking recipe).

Some authors consider the principles of the SWOT analysis already in the works of Chinese classics such as shown Sunzi. For companies there is the recommendation to analyze the environment to opportunities and risks or dangers carefully and to make its own strengths and weaknesses aware. The essence of strategy is then to decide which of these strengths will benefit the company in order to realize the opportunities ( opportunities ). Add to this the definition of measures for implementation, budgeting and selection of appropriate indicators for progress and success control. This process of applying the SWOT analysis by Henry Mintzberg, Philip Kotler and Robert S. Kaplan and David Norton to illustrate a summary of the adjacent graph. In this type of strategies are so -called matching strategies (use of opportunities by matching strengths of the company ). Often, it is necessary instead to use concomitantly or conversion and neutralization strategies. This involves the conversion of weaknesses into strengths or risks into opportunities - or the neutralization of risks or weaknesses.

Practical example of a SWOT analysis

The SWOT analysis is one of the most important methods of strategic analysis. This is the heart of the strategic planning process, which begins with the marketing plan. The result of a SWOT analysis is illustrated by a practical example (Volkswagen ).


The general procedure begins with environmental and corporate analysis, which can be represented in a matrix. The combination of these analyzes can then be derived various strategic consequences.:

Environmental analysis ( external analysis )

In the external analysis of the company's environment is examined, one also speaks of environmental analysis. The opportunities and risks come from the outside and result from changes in the market, in the technological, social or ecological environment. The environmental conditions are given for the company, the forces operating here are largely exogenous. The company observes or anticipates these changes and responds with strategy adaptation.

Company Analysis (internal analysis)

Strengths and weaknesses related to the company itself, that result from the self-observation of the company. One therefore speaks of the Inweltanalyse. Strengths and weaknesses, the company produces itself, there are characteristics of the company or created by the company itself, so they are a result of organizational processes.


It can be used quite a number of strengths to realize an opportunity or avoid a risk. The biggest risks are presumed even where a combination of weaknesses in one or more risks facing.

Because of these combinations then appropriate strategies must be developed and coordinated. This is certainly to the most demanding part of the approach.

The core strategies are then entered in the four- field matrix.

Summary: SWOT model in matrix representation

The dimensions of the SWOT analysis model are often presented in a SWOT matrix, which can be constructed as follows:

Common Mistakes

Crucial to the success are always concrete and aligned on target measures that must be implemented consistently.

The following errors can be frequently observed in published SWOT analysis:

Alternative views on SWOT analyzes

Like most management models based SWOT analysis on a rational view of the world, in an analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks are identified and then developed rational strategies to use them or to fight. For companies in the semblance of rationality is important in order to maintain their access to resources and maintain stakeholder confidence by creating an appearance of " good management ".

In modern organizational research, this image is more and more questioned. So observed the American organizational psychologist William H. Starbuck, that companies SWOTs cite as justification for activities after the activity has been performed. Here, therefore, the order is reversed and SWOTs be cited as subsequent (post hoc) rationalizations for decisions.