Natural resources in analyses of the strategic environment

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Textbooks in strategic management often have a section on analyses of organisations' strategic or macro environment. The textbooks often present a classification of forces in the strategic environment (e.g., political, economic, technological, social, legal, values, demographical and so on, leading to acronyms like PEST, STEP, PESTEL, PESTLED, STEEP, STEEPV, STEEPVL, and STEEPLE. PEST analyses – and their deviates - are often used as input to - or as a part of – foresight and futures research methodology, e.g., scenario planning, megatrend analyses, horizon scanning, and SWOT analyses.
Literature gives no clear answer on when or why to select which acronym. However, it seems plausible that new letters are added as new factors in organisations' strategic environment have become essential. Recently, the availability of natural resources has become of paramount importance. However, in most textbooks and guidelines, the availability of natural resources themselves is not included directly but only in affiliation with other factors such as technologies, advocacy groups, waste reduction and environmental risks.

Within strategic management, analyses of organisations' strategic environment depend on a particular view on strategy often associated with what Henry Mintzberg and colleagues in their seminal book Strategy Safari label the 'Environmental School' and the 'Configuration School'. In addition, other critiques have been raised concerning PEST analyses, such as inconsistencies in classifying factors and simplifying complexities in the strategic environment. Besides their use in the strategic management of organisations, PEST analyses, somewhat uncritically, seem to have diffused into other fields, particularly practice-oriented public policy areas such as energy, sustainability, agriculture, forestry, water management, and urban development.

This leads to the overall question of this paper: What insights can be gained regarding the transfer and adaptation of PEST analyses – and their deviates - from the field of strategic management to other fields? More specifically, through a systematic literature review, this paper will answer the following sub-questions:
• What are the patterns in the conceptual foundation and practical use of analyses of the strategic environment, incl. the different acronyms?
• Is the critique raised towards PEST analyses in strategic management literature disseminated to other areas? And how?
• What are best practices in including natural resources in analyses of the strategic environment?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFutures of natural resources : Book of abstracts
Publication date2024
ISBN (Print)978-952-249-614-0
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Event24th Futures Conference: Futures of Natural Resources - University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Duration: 13 Jun 202414 Jun 2024


Conference24th Futures Conference
LocationUniversity of Turku
Internet address


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