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This is an interesting question because, while SWOT provides analysis within the two internal and two external areas required for developing a competitive market advantage, it offers no guidance or instruction on identifying the particulars and specifics that are relevant to any one company in any one of these four elemental areas. In other words, if the company leadership and management cannot identify the internalities and externalities that are relevant to their business, then a SWOT has a great potential to be useless, and, if useless, unable to predict success in health care or any industry. Let's look at this in some detail.
SWOT is an acronym for a market competitiveness analysis developed by Ken Andrews that analyzes (1) strengths, (2) weakness, (3) opportunities and (4) threats relevant to a given company across the range of industries. Strengths and weaknesses are internal aspects that relate to competitiveness while opportunities and threats are external aspects that relate to competitiveness. Internalities are under the control of the leadership and management of a company while externalites are rarely under their control, for example, the externality of the price of fossil fuels. Remembering that SWOT is a means of analysis of data, let's see what the limitations to predicting success might be.
It does occur that leadership and management cannot identify, or cannot correctly identify, the company's internal strengths and weaknesses. It also does occur that they are unable to realistically identify external opportunities and threats. If this inability to correctly identify is true in one or more of the four SWOT elements (strengths, weaknesses, opportunity, threat), then the data undergoing analysis will be incorrect or at least inadequate rendering the analysis invalid. In this scenario, with weak or incorrect data to analyze, SWOT cannot predict success in attaining a competitive advantage. Conversely, with well identified data to analyze, SWOT analysis proves valid. With a valid analysis, it may be said that, with all things being equal and with no sudden surprises in the economy, industry, or market, SWOT has the potential to predict success though, like College Board Exams for university entrance, SWOT has only the potential to predict since things are rarely held equal and even more rarely without surprise.
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