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What Is a Pest Analysis?

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Essay title: What Is a Pest Analysis?

Introduction

In analyzing the macro-environment, it is important to identify the factors that might in turn affect a number of vital variables that are likely to influence the organization’s supply and demand levels and its costs (Kotter and Schlesinger, 1991; Johnson and Scholes, 1993). The “radical and ongoing changes occurring in society create an uncertain environment and have an impact on the function of the whole organization” (Tsiakkiros, 2002). A number of checklists have been developed as ways of cataloguing the vast number of possible issues that might affect an industry. A PEST analysis is one of them that is merely a framework that categorizes environmental influences as political, economic, social and technological forces. Sometimes two additional factors, environmental and legal, will be added to make a PESTEL analysis, but these themes can easily be subsumed in the others. The analysis examines the impact of each of these factors (and their interplay with each other) on the business. The results can then be used to take advantage of opportunities and to make contingency plans for threats when preparing business and strategic plans (Byars, 1991; Cooper, 2000).

Kotler (1998) claims that PEST analysis is a useful strategic tool for understanding market growth or decline, business position, potential and direction for operations. The headings of PEST are a framework for reviewing a situation, and can in addition to SWOT and Porter’s Five Forces models, be applied by companies to review a strategic directions, including marketing proposition. The use of PEST analysis can be seen effective for business and strategic planning, marketing planning, business and product development and research reports. PEST also ensures that company’s performance is aligned positively with the powerful forces of change that are affecting business environment (Porter, 1985). PEST is useful when a company decides to enter its business operations into new markets and new countries. The use of PEST, in this case, helps to break free of unconscious assumptions, and help to effectively adapt to the realities of the new environment.

Main Aspects of PEST Analysis

Economic conditions affect how easy or how difficult it is to be successful and profitable at any time because they affect both capital availability and cost, and demand (Thompson, 2002). If demand is buyout, for example, and the cost of capital is low, it will be attractive for firms to invest and grow with expectations of being profitable. In opposite circumstances firms might find that profitability throughout the industry is low. The timing and relative success of particular strategies can be influences by economic conditions. When the economy, as a whole or certain sectors of the economy, are growing, demand may exist for a product or service which would not be in demand in more depressed circumstances. Similarity, the opportunity to exploit a particular strategy successfully may depend on demand which exists in growth conditions and does not in recession. Although a depressed economy will generally be a treat which results in a number of organizations going out of business, it can provide opportunities for some (Robinson and et al., 1978; Thompson, 2002).

Economic conditions are influenced by political and government policy, being a major influence affecting government decisions. The issue of whether European countries join, or remain outside, the single European currency is a case in point. At any one time either exported or imported goods can seem expensive or inexpensive, dependent upon currency exchange rates. There are many other ways, however, in which government decisions will affect organizations both directly and indirectly, as they provide both opportunities and threats.

While economic conditions and government policy are closely related, they both influence a number of other environmental forces that can affect organizations. Capital markets determine the conditions for alternative types of funding for organizations. They tend to be a subject to government controls, and they will be guided by the prevailing economic conditions. The rate of interest charged for loans will be affected by inflation and by international economics and, although the determining rate may be fixed by a central bank, as it is the case with the Bank of England, that will also be influenced by stated government priorities. According to Thompson (2002), government spending can increase the money supply and make capital markets more buoyant . The expectations of shareholders with regard to company performance, their willingness to provide more equity funding or their willingness to sell their shares will also be affected.

The labour market reflects the availability of particular

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