Company Research: Environmental Scan

Definition Of Environmental Scan

Environmental Scan, an examination of the external and internal environments:

  • External environment: political/legal/regulatory, economic, socio-cultural, technology, environment (PEST or PESTEL Analysis).
  • Industry environment: new entrants, suppliers, buyers, product substitutes, intensity of rivalry, position of the firm in the industry (Porter's Five Forces Analysis). 
  • Firm-level: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT Analysis). 

There isn't an article or report called "environmental scan." This is something that you must write yourself by synthesizing information from multiple sources.

Consider industry-specific forces: e.g., for the automobile industry, factors like gas price, new technologies, environmental concerns, changes in consumer preferences, infrastructures, industry/government incentives, global/foreign competitions, etc..

Consider broader forces: economy and disposable income, social media, mobile technology, consumer health, globalization, population change (e.g., immigration, aging), etc..

Recommended sources: most databases featuring company profiles or industry profiles will have some information on environmental factors and their impact on the company or industry. Industry association websites should have some free information about trends and developments. In addition, follow current events in the news and search for current articles related to the company or industry. Synthesize the information and use your own words.

PESTEL/PEST Analysis: there are no readily available "PEST/PESTEL reports" in library databases. Best bets:

  • 10-K: esp. the sections Business, Risk Factor and Management's Discussion and Analysis.
  • IBISWorld: esp. the sections Performance, Products and Markets, and External Environment.

Five Forces Analysis

  • Business Source Premier: the MarketLine industry profiles (available on select industries) contain a Five Forces Analysis section
  • IBISWorld: the section Competitive Forces is based on Five Forces Analysis.

SWOT Analysis: (some companies may not have readily available SWOT reports)

  • Business Insights: within each company profile 
  • Business Source Premier: type in company name in the first search box, SWOT in the second box 
  • Investext: search tutorial available here 
  • Passport: within a company profile. There isn't a specific SWOT section, but the content can be used for SWOT analysis. 

SWOT Analysis in Library Databases

Library databases below may have a readily available SWOT report on select companies. Not all companies have a such a report, and even when there are SWOT reports, they are other people's opinions that you can consult and cite. You should, however, always create your own analysis.

Current Awareness

Search for the name of the company in the article headline. Limit your search to the last twelve months (or shorter if you get too many results).

Corporate Accountability Watch

Current Issues

Corporate Social Responsibility

Sustainability report or corporate social responsibility report, if issued, can be found on the company website. Other resources include:


CRS Reports

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) produces analytical reports on topics of interest to Congress, but does not maintain a public website with these reports.  

For more information, see the Dudley Knox Library of the Naval Postgraduate School's guide on Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports