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Factsheet:

PESTLE analysis

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in October 2013.

What is PESTLE analysis?

PESTLE stands for - Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal, Environmental. The term PESTLE has been used regularly in the last decade or so and its true history is difficult to establish. Various other similar acronyms have been used including ETPS, STEP, PEST, and STEEPLE. The term PESTLE is particularly popular on HR and introductory marketing courses in the UK.

PESTLE analysis is in effect an audit of an organisation's environmental influences with the purpose of using this information to guide strategic decision-making. The assumption is that if the organisation is able to audit its current environment and assess potential changes, it will be better placed than its competitors to respond to changes.

To help make decisions and to plan for future events, organisations need to understand the wider ‘meso-economic’ and ‘macro-economic’ environments in which they operate. (The meso-economic environment is the one in which we operate and have limited influence or impact, the macro-environment includes all factors that influence an organisation but are out of its direct control). An organisation on its own cannot affect these factors, nor can these factors directly affect the profitability of an organisation. But by understanding these environments, it is possible to take the advantage to maximise the opportunities and minimise the threats to the organisation. Conducting a strategic analysis entails scanning these economic environments to detect and understand the broad, long term trends.

A PESTLE analysis is a useful tool for understanding the ‘big picture’ of the environment in which an organisation is operating. Specifically a PESTLE analysis is a useful tool for understanding risks associated with market (the need for a product or service) growth or decline, and as such the position, potential and direction for an individual business or organisation.

A PESTLE analysis is often used as a generic 'orientation' tool, finding out where an organisation or product is in the context of what is happening outside that will at some point affect what is happening inside an organisation. The six elements form a framework for reviewing a situation, and can also be used to review a strategy or position, direction of a company, a marketing proposition, or idea.

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  • the PESTLE model
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