SWOT analysis problems and solutions: Practitioners’ feedback into the ongoing academic debate


  • Thomas King Fortune 50 company in the retail industry in Minneapolis, MN
  • Shelly Freyn Alfred University
  • Jason Morrison Alfred University




academic-practitioner divide, strategic management tools, SWOT


The literature on SWOT is characterized by a debate among academics who have identified problems and proposed solutions for the strategic management tool, yet little research to date has captured practitioners’ perspectives. Recent literature indicates that SWOT is still the most popular strategic management tool among competitive intelligence (CI) professionals. The purpose of this study is to bridge this academic-practitioner divide in the SWOT literature by conducting a cross-sectional survey that gathers practitioners’ feedback regarding whether they are experiencing the problems or employing the solutions proposed by academia. A survey was distributed via LinkedIn to collect data from CI and other business professionals who conduct SWOT in the workforce. The findings confirm that practitioners experience select problems identified by the literature. Specifically, they may have too many factors per SWOT category, may be defining factors with ambiguous and unclear words, and may not have a means for resolving conflicts when factors fall in multiple categories (e.g., opportunity and threat). The findings also indicate that practitioners may not be consistently conducting SWOT as a structured business process, as proposed in the literature. The feedback provided by CI and other business professionals aids in closing the academic-practitioner divide by more clearly identifying persistent issues with SWOT and creating valuable and actionable insights that will drive the continual improvement of this popular strategic management tool.

Author Biographies

Thomas King, Fortune 50 company in the retail industry in Minneapolis, MN

Thomas King is a Strategic Intelligence Lead at a Fortune 50 company in the retail industry in Minneapolis, MN. Thomas has 5 years of experience leading the overall competitor insights and intelligence program which informs the company's enterprise strategy, planning, and portfolio decisions. He holds a Master of Science in Applied Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University and his research efforts seek to bridge the gap between the academic literature and practitioner experience in order to improve strategic management tools.  

Shelly Freyn, Alfred University

Shelly Freyn is Associate Professor of Marketing at Alfred University and a Competitive Intelligence Fellow. She has twenty years in industry experience and has taught marketing and competitive intelligence (CI) for over a decade. She is co-creator of one of the first undergraduate programs in CI. Shelly presents at national and international conferences on competitive intelligence and received the Strategic Competitive Intelligence Professionals Distinguished Member award in academia along with both the Academic Scholar award and Teaching Excellence award at Alfred University. Her research efforts apply CI to improving strategic decision making in both the boardroom and the classroom. 

Jason Morrison, Alfred University

Dr. Jason Morrison is Assistant Professor of Finance at Alfred University. He received his Ph.D. in Finance at the University of Texas at Arlington. Jason has over 20 years of industry experience as an entreprenuer and 7 years of teaching. His research efforts are focused on entreprenuership, mutual funds, and real estate. 


Connell, J., Carlton, J., Grundy, A., Buck, E. T., Keetharuth, A. D., Ricketts, T., Barkham, M., Robotham, D., Rose, D., and Brazier, J. (2018) “The Importance of content and face validity in instrument development: lessons learnt from service users when developing the Recovering Quality of Life measure (ReQoL)”, Quality of Life Research, Vol. 27, pp.1893-1902.

Clardy, A. (2013). “Strengths vs. Strong Position: Rethinking the Nature of SWOT Analysis”, Modern Management Science & Engineering, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp.100-122.

Cardoso, E., Labunets, K., Dalpiaz, F., Mylopoulos, J., and Giorgini, P. (2016). “Modeling Structured and Unstructured Processes: An Empirical Evaluation”, Comyn-Wattiau, I., Tanaka, K., Song, IY., Yamamoto, S., Saeki, M. (Ed.), Conceptual Modeling, Springer International Publishing AG, New York, NY, pp.347-361.

Denrell, J., Fang, C., and Winter, S. G. (2003). “The economics of strategic opportunity”, working paper [No.2003/10], Laboratory of Economics and Management Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy, July.

[Author] and Hoffman, F. (2023). “Competitive intelligence in an AI world: Practitioners’ thoughts on technological advances and the educational needs of their successors.” Journal of Intelligence Studies in Business, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 6-17. https://ojs.hh.se/index.php/JISIB/article/view/893

Frost, F. A. (2003). “The use of strategic tools by small and medium-sized enterprises: an Australasian study” Strategic Change, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp.49-62.

Fulton, B. (2016). “Organizations and survey research: Implementing response enhancing strategies and conducting nonresponse analyses.” Sociological Methods & Research, Vol. 47 No. 2, pp.1-37.

Ghazinoory, S., Abdi, M., and Azadegan-Mehr, M. (2011). “SWOT Methodology: A State-of-the-Art Review for the Past, a Framework for the Future”, Journal of Business Economics and Management, Vol. 12 No. 11, pp.24-48.

Gürel, E. and Tat, M. (2017) “SWOT analysis: A theoretical review”, The Journal of International Social Research, Vol. 10. No. 51, pp.994-1006.

Helms, M. M., and Nixon, J. (2010). “Exploring SWOT analysis - Where are we now? A review of academic research from the last decade”, Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp.215-251.

Hill, T. and Westrbook, R. (1997). “SWOT analysis: It’s time for a product recall”, Long Range Planning, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp.46-52.

Hunt, S. D., and Derozier, C. (2004). “The normative imperatives of business and marketing strategy: grounding strategy in resource-advantaged theory.” Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp.5-22. Jareño, F., and Negrut, L. (2016). “US Stock Market and Macroeconomic Factors”, The Journal of Applied Business Research, Vol. 32, No. 1 pp.325-340.

Jaworski, B. J. (2011). “On Managerial Relevance”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 75 No. 4, pp.211-223.

Kay, N. M., Leih, S., and Teece, D. J. (2018). “The role of emergence in dynamic capabilities: a restatement of the framework and some possibilities for future research”, Industrial and Corporate Change, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp.623-638.

Kraaijenbrink, J., Spender, J. C., and Groen, A. (2009). “The resource-based view: A review and assessment of its critiques”, Journal of Management, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp.349-372.

Maholtra, N. K. (2012). Basic Marketing Research (4th. ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Porter, M. E. (1980). Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, The Free Press, New York, NY.

Priem, R. and Butler, J. (2001). “Is the Resource-Based “View” a Useful Perspective for Strategic Management Research?” Academy of Management Review, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp.22-40.

Qehaja, A. B., Kutllovci, E., and Pula, J. S. (2017). “Strategic Management Tools and Techniques Usage: A Qualitative Review”, Acta Universitatis Agriculturae et Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunenis, Vol. 65 No. 2, pp.585-600.

Ratnasingham, P. (2006). “A SWOT analysis for B2C e-commerce: The case of Amaozn.com” International Journal of Cases on Electronic Commerce (IJCEC), Vol. 2 No. 1, pp.1-22.

Reichert, M. and Weber, B. (2012). Enabling Flexibility in Process-Aware Information Systems - Challenges, Methods, Technologies. Springer Berlin, Hieldelberg, Germany.

Schinasi, G. J. (2004). “Defining Financial Stability”, Working Paper No. 04/187, International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C., October.

Teece, D. J. (2007). “Explicating dynamic capabilities: the nature and microfoundations of (sustainable) enterprise performance”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 28, pp.1319-1350. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. “Gross Private Domestic Investment [GPDI]”, available at https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GPDI (accessed 17 March 2023). U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. “Personal Consumption Expenditures [PCE]”, available at https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PCE (accessed 15 March 2023).

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Unemployment Rate [UNRATE]” available at https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UNRATE (accessed 17 March 2023).

Valentin, E. K. (2001). “Swot analysis from a Resource-Based View”, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp.54-69.

Weihrich, H. (1982). “The TOWS Matrix a Tool for Situational Analysis”, Long Range Planning, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp.54-66.

Wheaton, K. and Beerbower, M. (2006). “Towards a New Definition of Intelligence”, Stanford Law & Policy Review Vol. 17, pp.319 – 330. World Bank. “Inflation, consumer prices for the United States [FPCPITOTLZGUSA]” available at https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FPCPITOTLZGUSA (accessed 17 March 2023).