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How to Write a Research Paper

Writing a research paper is a bit more difficult that a standard high school essay. You need to site sources, use academic data and show scientific examples. Before beginning, you’ll need guidelines for how to write a research paper.

Start the Research Process

Before you begin writing the research paper, you must do your research. It is important that you understand the subject matter, formulate the ideas of your paper, create your thesis statement and learn how to speak about your given topic in an authoritative manner. You’ll be looking through online databases, encyclopedias, almanacs, periodicals, books, newspapers, government publications, reports, guides and scholarly resources. Take notes as you discover new information about your given topic. Also keep track of the references you use so you can build your bibliography later and cite your resources.

Develop Your Thesis Statement

When organizing your research paper, the thesis statement is where you explain to your readers what they can expect, present your claims, answer any questions that you were asked or explain your interpretation of the subject matter you’re researching. Therefore, the thesis statement must be strong and easy to understand. Your thesis statement must also be precise. It should answer the question you were assigned, and there should be an opportunity for your position to be opposed or disputed. The body of your manuscript should support your thesis, and it should be more than a generic fact.

Create an Outline

Many professors require outlines during the research paper writing process. You’ll find that they want outlines set up with a title page, abstract, introduction, research paper body and reference section. The title page is typically made up of the student’s name, the name of the college, the name of the class and the date of the paper. The abstract is a summary of the paper. An introduction typically consists of one or two pages and comments on the subject matter of the research paper. In the body of the research paper, you’ll be breaking it down into materials and methods, results and discussions. Your references are in your bibliography. Use a research paper example to help you with your outline if necessary.

Organize Your Notes

When writing your first draft, you’re going to have to work on organizing your notes first. During this process, you’ll be deciding which references you’ll be putting in your bibliography and which will work best as in-text citations. You’ll be working on this more as you develop your working drafts and look at more white paper examples to help guide you through the process.

Write Your Final Draft

After you’ve written a first and second draft and received corrections from your professor, it’s time to write your final copy. By now, you should have seen an example of a research paper layout and know how to put your paper together. You’ll have your title page, abstract, introduction, thesis statement, in-text citations, footnotes and bibliography complete. Be sure to check with your professor to ensure if you’re writing in APA style, or if you’re using another style guide.


example of situational analysis in research paper

The Situation Analysis: How to Put Your Research to Work

example of situational analysis in research paper

Once you’ve completed discovery work for a content strategy project, the next best step is to create a situation analysis. Here’s how to craft one effectively.

A  situation analysis  summarizes what you’ve learned during discovery on your content strategy project with the people on your project team. It also sets the stage for what comes next.

It’s more than just a research summary; it includes your expert analysis about what all of this stuff  means  with respect to content strategy. Done well, it answers “So what?” before folks have a chance to ask.

Building a situation analysis into your project plan  ensures that you’ll slow down and think a bit in between doing your research and making recommendations. Even when I feel like I’ve learned a lot during my discovery work, I learn even more from summarizing it.

Organizing a situation analysis is effectively me having a conversation with myself about what I’ve learned so far. I then tidy up that conversation, share it with other people, and see if I’m making any sense.

A document … and a story

For the purposes of this post, I’m talking about a situation analysis as a physical document. It could be a report. Or a memo. Or a slide deck. Or a three-act play—which would be weird, but you do you.

Whatever the format, a situation analysis serves in part as an agenda for a conversation about your discovery work. For most of my projects, the analysis is usually a simple deck that I share during a 90-minute conversation with the core project team. Whether you’re recapping a day of onsite consulting or a months-long process with multiple forms of research, the approach is more or less the same.

However you structure your combination of document and presentation, the situation analysis ultimately says: “Here’s what I’ve learned so far and what I think we should do about it next.” It tells a story about the content strategy project so far.

Highlights, not play-by-play

You’re going to learn all kinds of interesting stuff during your discovery work, and have tens if not hundreds of examples to illustrate the various points you need to make. You want to keep this stuff handy, for sure, but your job at this point is to give your team the highlights. The things that matter, right now, to help figure out what’s next.

To get you started, here’s an outline of what I tend to include in my situation analysis deck:

Choose the right audience

As a content strategy consultant, I usually start by sharing the situation analysis with my core team. That’s anyone working on the project from my side along with the one to three people I’ve been working with from the client’s team.

Depending on the organizational culture, you may also want to share the situation analysis with a larger audience of content stakeholders. If you did stakeholder interviews, this can be a little tricky depending on what you have to say about what those content stakeholders have told you. One option is to do a more complete situation analysis with the core team, and then break out a component like a content strategy SWOT or content maturity model to socialize with the larger group.

A situation analysis might be less formal if you’re working on an in-house project. Then again, if you’re low in the hierarchy, it may be even more important to do a persuasive, eye-opening presentation about the current state of content strategy in your organization in order to get a better chance of selling your eventual recommendations and guidelines.

Test the waters for your strategy recommendations

I often use the situation analysis presentation to test the waters on potential strategy and governance recommendations that might be controversial or take time to warm up to. It  introduces  big ideas without directly  proposing  them.

However good and smart and research-informed my strategy recommendations might be, they aren’t going to be warmly received if I just show up and say “Ta-da!” At best you get a flat, lukewarm, “I’m not really sure what I’m looking at” kind of reaction. At worst? Full. Scale. Riot. OK, maybe not a riot, but to folks not immersed in content strategy conversations all day, the logical gap between perceived problem and proposed solutions can seem HUGE. A situation analysis helps bridge that gap.

Find your blind spots

“What have I missed?” That’s one of the most important questions to ask your collaborators and stakeholders after sharing your situation analysis. A situation analysis should be developed and presented with an openness to learning what you may have overlooked.

Someone almost always finds one more thing for me to look into before moving forward that I wasn’t able to uncover until this point. Hopefully it’s minor, but either way, you’ll be glad to know about it now rather than after you’ve put in hours of work on your recommendations.

Be flexible

Like a lot of content strategy deliverables, I tend to tweak the format a little bit each time I make a situation analysis. It can and should be heavily informed by the specific discovery activities you engage in and what you learn along the way. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your own!

Scott Kubie is the lead content strategist here at Brain Traffic and the author of Writing for Designers from A Book Apart . Scott has focused on the content side of digital experiences since 2009, and was the first UX content strategist at Wolfram Research. He grew up in rural Nebraska, and studied electronic media and journalism at Drake University.

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A Complete Guide To Situational Analysis (With Examples)

What Is a Situational Analysis?

Factors to consider in situation analysis, why is a situational analysis important, methods of situational analysis, what is swot analysis, what is the 5c’s analysis, what is a porter five forces analysis, how to complete a situational analysis, qualities of useful situational analysis results, challenges of situational analysis, situational analysis faq.

Summary. Situational Analysis is used to assess the internal and external factors of a business. It is used to help determine a business’ strengths, weaknesses, potential new customers, and any issues that may be there. The three popular methos of situational analysis are SWOT analysis, 5C’s analysis, and Porters Five Forces.

Successful businesses don’t just wing it and hope for the best. They proactively evaluate the landscape of their industry and the internal assets they possess. To do this, executives, team leaders, project managers, and others in positions of strategic leadership perform situational analyses.

A situational analysis allows for a company to take stock of its internal strengths and deficiencies, while also identifying the broader trends happening among competition and customers. It’s an invaluable step zero that smart teams run before making any grand plans.

We’ll cover three of the most popular methods for running a situational analysis, break down the benefits of each, and provide tips for performing one.

Key Takeaways:

Situational analysis assesses the internal and external factors of a business to clarify its advantages and disadvantages.

A situational analysis is particularly useful before launching a new project or marketing campaign.

There are many ways to perform a situational analysis such as, the SWOT analysis, the 5 C’s Analysis, and Porter’s Five Forces.

A useful situational analysis should be practical, easy to understand, provides equal attention to internal and external factors, and sets goals for your business.

A Complete Guide To Situational Analysis (With Examples)

A situational analysis is a method used to assess the internal and external factors of a business. It identifies both the advantages a business enjoys and the challenges that it is likely to face.

The ultimate goal of situational analysis is to determine a business’ strengths, weaknesses, potential new customers, and lingering issues that contribute to the company’s general standing. Multiple different methods of analysis are used to complete this evaluation, and they’re often used in conjunction with one another.

Usually, situational analysis is started before launching a new project or embracing new marketing strategies. A situational analysis incorporates a few factors for consideration. These include:

Competition. Determine what steps you want your company to take by comparing the advantages you have over your competition and vice versa.

Product. Understand your product, whether it is a good or service. If you have multiple products, make sure to analyze them independently and assess how they relate to one another.

Distribution. Analyze how your product moves through the supply chain from beginning to end.

Customers. Know who your current customers are and who you want your prospective customers to be.

Market Environment. The environment of your market includes your industry and localized economy, as well as your relationship to suppliers and customers.

The purpose of conducting a situation analysis is to get a better understanding of the factors that will affect your company’s success. The results of a situational analysis give the business insight into how to move forward.

A situational analysis is important because there’s no way to fully grasp the scope of mitigating factors that impact the outcome of a company without implementing it in some form. It’s running an organization blindly.

A situational analysis describes the work environment for what it does well, where it needs improvement, and where the likeliest avenues of growth are.

Companies use several different methods to outline their overall performance and decide on what actions they should take next. A comprehensive situational analysis uses at least two of these methods to evaluate a company’s status.

Popular methods of situational analysis include:

SWOT analysis

5C’s analysis

Porter five forces

A SWOT analysis is a method of situational analysis that relies on taking stock of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Theats. It;s a popular method of situational analysis. There are four main areas that this SWOT analysis looks into:

Strengths . Evaluating a company’s strengths asks you to determine what they do well. These can be positive aspects of their product, customer relations, or any other feature that acts as a strength.

Weaknesses. While many organizations are vocal and aware of their strengths, they may be less willing to face their weaknesses . However, understanding a company’s weaknesses and what areas these reside in is crucial to improvement.

Opportunities. Gathering a company’s opportunity pool is often a lot of brainstorming . Opportunities are places that the business expands to further its success. This could be in the form of catering to a new customer base or entering an emerging market.

Threats. More than any other piece of the SWOT analysis, the threats portion asks a business to think about external factors. These are outside entities or aspects that hurt a business and can lead to failure down the line.

These broad aspects are the qualities that determine a business’ current standing, future options, and potential problems.

The 5C’s analysis serves a similar function to the SWOT, but it’s used as a framework for marketing, rather than determining a company’s overall health. Understanding the 5C’s establishes marketing strategies that put a business ahead of its competition.

The 5C’s are:

Company. Even though the 5C method of analysis deals with marketing and competition, the first step is to look inward at your own company. Consider your business’ abilities, products, current marketing, and financials. Take stock of where your company stands.

Customers. Now that a picture of your company has been established, shift attention to the customer base. Ask yourselves what your company’s customers need and want. This leads to better communication between an organization and the individuals it serves.

Competitors. In any kind of business, knowing your competitors is how your company eventually surpasses them. If you don’t know who your company’s top competitors are, do some market research into the subject. When you have a firm grasp on who your team competes with, dig deeper into these brands and their marketing strategies.

Collaborators. The collaborators involved with your company are the exact opposite of the competition. It’s organizations that you could have a symbiotic relationship with. They’re investors or other businesses that you could potentially have a professional partnership with in the future.

Climate. The final aspect to assess through the 5C’s analysis is climate. This refers to the environment that your company is functioning in. That could refer to your business’ specific field or more global events that impact a variety of industries.

Competition is a huge aspect of a business’ success in its market. The Porter Five Forces analysis highlights this principle by evaluating competition to assess threats and using this knowledge to further your own company.

The elements of the Porter Five Forces are:

Evaluating existing competition. The first factor that the Porter Five Forces asks businesses to establish is the number of competitors they have and how strong they are.

The threat of substitutes. The threat of substitutes refers to the ability of a company’s product to be recreated. A company whose product or service has no similar substitutes has more control and power in the market.

The threat of new entrants. A company’s standing is also determined by how easily new competitors can enter their field in the future. Industries that are hassle-free to enter and become a valid competitor weaken the power of businesses participating overall.

Bargaining power of customers. Small businesses are often the most affected by the bargaining power of customers. This means how influential the customers are to driving a product’s price up or down.

Bargaining power of suppliers. Finally, the bargaining power of suppliers makes up the last tier of a complete competition picture. Just about every brand requires unique supplies to create their products, and these have to come from somewhere.

Choose a method of analysis. To complete a situational analysis at your company, first, choose a method that you’ll be using for evaluation. Many companies begin with the SWOT analysis because it provides the most comprehensive picture of a business’ status in terms of what it does well and how it could improve.

Complete the method’s guidelines. The second step to a situational analysis is the fairly simple direction of following your chosen method’s guidelines.

Reproduce with another method of analysis. Finally, reproduce your company’s situational analysis using a different method. Run through its steps completely. It’s recommended to perform all three methods of analysis for the most complete results and best strategy formulation.

It’s easily understandable. A company’s situational analysis results should be easily understandable. Someone who doesn’t work at your company or in your field should be able to understand it.

It’s practical. The point of conducting a situational analysis of a business is to gather useful data and formulate practical marketing strategies. If the results from a situational analysis are impractical and have no use, then the process was a waste.

Equal attention to external and internal factors. A business is never solely affected by internal or external factors. It’s a combination of both. A useful situational analysis pays equal attention to aspects inside and outside the business.

Inspires more company analysis. Beginning the discussion about where a company currently stands in the market and their potential outlets for improvement gets the ball rolling on future analysis. Practical analysis almost always ends with inspiration for more later on.

Includes goals for the future. Situational analysis isn’t just about the current status of your company but also setting intentions for expansion. A huge part of successful situational analysis is the formulation of goals for the future because, without them, the business simply remains stagnant.

Outlines plans for these goals . In addition to setting goals for your company’s future, useful situational analysis results in outlining a plan for how this feat will be accomplished.

Making a situational analysis is not always easier. Sometimes your company will have issues along the way. Common challenges include:

Cluttered or conflicting priorities during analysis.

Factors lacking objectivity.

All of these issues will doom a situational analysis if they are not handled properly. Remember, it is important that your situational analysis creates a clear picture that both your business and outsiders can easily understand.

Is situational analysis the same as SWOT?

No, situational analysis is not the same as SWOT. SWOT is one method for conducting a situational analysis. SWOT is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

What is situational analysis used for?

Situational analysis is used to create a framework from which a plan can develop. Performing a situational analysis is the first step toward setting priorities, delegating tasks, carrying out processes, and ultimately evaluating the success of a project.

What are the basic components of situational analysis?

The basic components of situational analysis in SWOT are:


The basic components of situational analysis in the 5C’s analysis are:



The basic components of situational analysis in a Porter Five Forces analysis are:

Evaluating existing competition

The threat of substitutes

The threat of new entrants

Bargaining power of customers

Bargaining power of suppliers

What is the outcome of situational analysis?

The outcome of situational analysis is a comprehensive idea of the internal and external forces that will affect a business or project’s success. Ideally, a complete situational analysis should be recorded and sent to all relevant stakeholders, for use in designing plans specific to their department.

Marian University – Situational Analysis

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Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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Situational Analysis for Complex Systems: Methodological Development in Public Health Research

Wanda martin.

1 College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Bernie Pauly

2 School of Nursing, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Marjorie MacDonald

Public health systems have suffered infrastructure losses worldwide. Strengthening public health systems requires not only good policies and programs, but also development of new research methodologies to support public health systems renewal. Our research team considers public health systems to be complex adaptive systems and as such new methods are necessary to generate knowledge about the process of implementing public health programs and services. Within our program of research, we have employed situational analysis as a method for studying complex adaptive systems in four distinct research studies on public health program implementation. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the use of situational analysis as a method for studying complex systems and highlight the need for further methodological development.

1. Introduction

There have been consistent calls for strengthening and renewing public health worldwide in an effort to improve population health and to reduce health inequities [1] – [3] . The implementation of effective public health programs and policies is critical to advance population health and promote health equity. Understanding the process of policy and program implementation is important for two main reasons: first, to ensure that it is, in fact, the public health programs that lead to population health outcomes, and second to identify the necessary organizational supports for implementation of public health interventions to inform public health practice. Studying public health programs in complex systems presents many research challenges demanding methodological development to generate knowledge about successful implementation of public health programs and services. Sharing examples of newer methodologies can advance thinking and contribute to application in various contexts. The purpose of this paper is to describe situational analysis as a newer research method for studying complex public health systems, using original research to illustrate the potential of this methodological approach for public health systems and services research.

MacDonald, as one of the team leads of the Research in Public Health Systems and Services Initiative (RePHSS) in British Columbia (BC), Canada, formerly called the Core Public Health Functions Research Initiative, identified studying the implementation and impact of public health programs and policies as a priority to advance population health and to promote health equity [4] – [6] . The implementation of public health programs and policies occurs within complex systems which Anderson, Crabtree, Steele and McDaniel [7] describe as organic, dynamic, and living social systems. Within a complex system, context is central to the implementation and impact of programs and policies. Pettigrew [8] defines context not only as circumstances in the environment, but as a nested arrangement of structures and processes shaped by those involved in the environment. According to Poland, Frohlich and Cargo [9] it is the social context that shapes how the phenomena are taken up, resisted, or modified. In fact, from a complexity perspective, context interacts with the intervention to produce outcomes, which then feed back into the system to change the context, which again interacts with the ongoing intervention to intensify, enhance, or change the outcomes. This reflects ecological complexity in reciprocal and iterative fashion.

Although many public health authors recognize and acknowledge the importance of context in understanding the workings of complex public health systems, there has been very little methodological development in the study of context [10] . Most research that reports on contextual influences on public health interventions draws on survey data to identify elements of context that correlate with outcomes, but provide little data that explain the causal processes and linkages between outcomes and context [11] . One way to study context is through mapping causal processes and working through the complexity of these relationships to gain insight into the conditions that trigger causal mechanisms to produce outcomes. Such linkages and relationships are often missed using traditional or conventional theories and methods.

Early in the process of developing a program of research in public health systems renewal, MacDonald recognized that traditional experimental designs with random selection of participants or manipulation of interventions, do not work well in real-world and complex public health settings [4] because context is often missed. Therefore, team members sought out emerging methods and research designs not typically utilized in public health research but that seemed suitable for studying context and mapping causal processes. The RePHSS team has explored various methods for mapping complexity, and have applied a range of methods in different research projects. One such method was Situational Analysis [12] .

In this paper, we focus on the study lead by Martin (at the time a nursing doctoral student) and supervised by MacDonald and Pauly. We describe how we applied this research analysis method with a complex adaptive systems framework in British Columbia (BC), one Canadian province. In the study “Food Gone Foul?: Food Safety and Security Tensions” Martin [13] used Situational Analysis [12] to understand the context of the food system and the relationships among professionals in three areas: those working in the Food Safety Core Program, those involved with the Food Security Core Program, and people working in community food security. By community food security, we mean “... a situation in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice” [14] . We obtained ethical approval for the study from the University of Victoria/Vancouver Health Authority Joint Ethics Review Board (J2011-23) and obtained written consent from participants.

We formulated research questions for Food Gone Foul through conversations with RePHSS knowledge users at the time that the health authorities were implementing the new Food Security Core Program. The questions were: (a) how are intersecting areas between food safety and food security negotiated, and (b) what are the facilitators and constraints to collaboration? Together, food safety and food security fit within, but are only part of, the larger and more complex food system and have multiple systems nested within them. Studying the relationships between these nested systems required a theoretical perspective with a focus on context, such as complex adaptive systems.

2. Complex adaptive systems

Complexity science is not one singular theory but consists of numerous theories and frameworks interpreted through the lenses of multiple disciplines [15] . One way to describe a complexity science worldview is complex adaptive systems. This worldview provides a vision of relational and dynamic life that is holistic, self-organizing, interconnected, nonlinear, and evolving [16] . Capra [17] describes complex adaptive systems as a study of problems in adaptive, self-organizing systems that are not explained by methods of traditional science. Holland [18] refers to complex adaptive systems as systems that maintain coherence under change. Essentially, complex adaptive systems are about understanding a set of principles that rule system behaviour such as nonlinearity and emergence [18] . Research using this worldview has a focus on the context involving study of relationship patterns, how relationships are sustained, and how outcomes emerge, with an emphasis on the whole and on synergy, rather than on individual parts [19] .

Various principles are emphasized by different authors, but for the purpose of this research, Martin [13] drew on work by Anderson and colleagues [7] using case study design with a complexity science blueprint. Case study is itself a method to study complex systems, but Anderson and colleagues [7] refer to specific characteristics as a map or a blueprint that reflect complexity science concepts. According to these authors [7] , there are five key characteristics of complex adaptive systems. The characteristics include: (1) agents who are people and processes (human and non-human actors) with the capacity to relay or exchange information; (2) nonlinear interconnections of agents that can be recognized as widespread patterns; (3) self-organization in which groups come together without external direction; (4) emergence or the development of system properties that are not characteristic of the individual parts; and (5) co-evolution in which the development of one system may be linked with the development of another outside system. Ideally, researchers can utilize these principles to recognize opportunities for studying context and implementation and for solving problems within the system. This thinking is highly relevant to public health because human health is a complex process operating through interactive systems [20] . Thus, there is a need to identify appropriate and relevant research methods to study problems in this field and contribute to the advancement of population health and health equity.

In developing Situational Analysis as a new approach to grounded theory analysis, Clarke [12] does not identify specifically the need to operationalize complexity science or complex adaptive systems as rationale for this new approach. However, she does recognize the opportunity to use the strength of the grounded theory process as developed by Glaser and Strauss [21] , with less of a focus on the “basic social process” in favour of the social worlds/arenas/negotiations framework that comes from Strauss's pragmatist philosophy and symbolic interactionism [12] . Social worlds are those in which there are shared commitments and attitudes toward social organization within arenas [22] . This includes collective action and a shared dialectical approach that defines the social world [23] . Additionally, the ecological nature of the conditional matrix used in grounded theory, along with the emphasis of situational analysis on context, provides theoretical links between situational analysis and complexity science. In situational analysis, the social world and collective commitments and actions of participants within that world are the units of analysis. Complexity science is evident in situational analysis through these concepts of the social world where relationships and the context are an important source of meaning. It is the point of the analysis to uncover the nature of interconnections (both an ecological and a complexity concept) within and among the arenas of action. Complexity concepts of relationships, nonlinearity, and self-organization are part of understanding the social worlds and arenas because they provide an understanding of what is happening in that social world, and how the social world relates to and is different from others in the arena.

Below we provide a description of situational analysis as a methodology for studying complex adaptive systems with an original research project to study tensions in the implementation of food safety and food security core public health programs. Published works using situational analysis are limited and, therefore, few examples were available as a model of how best to report information that can be complex to understand and to describe. By describing study findings, we hope to illustrate how to report situational analysis of complex adaptive systems.

3. Situational analysis

Situational analysis is an approach to research using a grounded theorizing methodology to identify and describe social worlds and arenas of action and by representing complexity through mapmaking [12] . Clarke [12] has taken grounded theory beyond the more constructivist approach of Charmaz and Morse [24] to create a new process of analysis that is situation-centred (i.e., largely centred on context) and focused on a social worlds/arenas/negotiations framework [25] . Situational analysis is beneficial to open up the data by providing a comprehensive framework for considering multiple connections and relationships that can influence activities [12] – in this case, elements of the situation that influence implementation of core public health programs. Using explanatory maps, situational analysis provides unique visuals for understanding the phenomenon of interest and considerable potential for visual representation of data to aid in knowledge translation activities. Visual complexity, as a means to recognize patterns and to clarify complex systems, is part of a growing trend in social science [26] . It allows the reader to see how complex the situation is, while demonstrating how various parts, through interaction, influence outcomes.

Situational analysis provides a means to specify and map all the important human and nonhuman elements of a situation, emphasizing relationships, social worlds and discursive positions [12] . Specifically, the methodology for situational analysis involves substantive theorizing and story-telling through the use of maps with a goal of critical analysis to produce a possible ‘truth,’ or the underlying structure or mechanism of action [12] . Clarke [12] identifies three main types of maps to help understand the situation: 1) situational maps, 2) social worlds/arenas maps and 3) positional maps. The maps are central to the process of analysis and provide visual representations of the findings.

3.1. Situational maps

To create the maps, situational analysis begins as with most grounded theory studies: gathering data through interviews, documents, and other sources that contribute to illuminating the basic social problem [21] . Clarke [12] describes conventional grounded theory coding and memo writing [21] as part of the process to become familiar with the data and also indicates that partially coded but carefully read data is sufficient to begin. Our experience is that constant comparative analysis is appropriate, without the depth required of various levels of coding in the conventional grounded theory process. Clarke [12] describes the maps as analytical exercises to stimulate thinking and to free the researcher from “analytic paralysis” (p. 84) that can occur when simply reading over data and recording memos.

Situational maps aid in articulating arguments or assertions and other elements of a situation and the relationships among the elements [12] . This begins with a ‘messy map’ created by descriptively laying out all the human and nonhuman elements by asking ourselves: who and what are in this situation; who and what matters in this situation; and what elements make a difference in this situation [12] . These descriptors are randomly ‘dumped’ on a large sheet of paper so the team can focus on ideas and not be concerned with the structure at this point. For example, Martin [13] explored four cases in the situation of tensions between those working in food safety and in food security (community kitchens, farmer's markets, unpasteurized milk, and urban chickens). She identified unique aspects of each case in each corner of a large sheet of paper, with common elements in the centre. This map helps the analyst to frame the situation and consider what might be invisible, or a taken-for-granted aspect of the situation [12] . This map is not a final version of who or what is in the situation, but it is as a starting point to stimulate thinking and to start to recognize patterns and connections in the data.

Derived from messy maps are ordered maps ( Table 1 ). Once the elements of what matters are down on paper, they are grouped or categorized to make sense for this topic area. Clarke [12] provides 12 suggested headings for the ordered map but encourages the researcher to use headings that make sense for the data to be understood. We describe these headings below. Headings help to identify and group the elements and actors, who are individuals, groups, or non-human entities . Implicated silent elements/actors are such things suggested by the data sources, but there is little direct information from individuals or groups in this category. For example, Food Secure Canada is not mentioned in the data, but is part of the way that other actors, such as the BC Food Systems Network, talk about food security.

The discursive construction category helps to tease out the story lines about what is happening in a situation. By discursive construction, we are referring to ideas, symbols, concepts, discourses, debates and cultural aspects of the situation that may have some significance in understanding the basic social problem [12] . We found that identifying elements in this category to be challenging to determine what we considered a human versus non-human actor. In a subsequent study, we decided that a discursive construction of human elements was not about the constructions of things articulated by people, but was more about how some people were being constructed by the informant.

Identification of political, economic and sociocultural elements assists the analysts in thinking through the broader context of the situation. It is important to consider how each of these elements may influence program implementation and collective action.

The temporal elements category refers to events that have influenced the situation over time or anything related to time, and the spatial elements refer to the way the distance and space affect the situation. Finally, there are related discourses , and major issues or debates found in the data that are important to consider for understanding the situation. Debates in the data are particularly important in developing positional maps, we describe below. The exercise of developing the ordered map helps to consider elements and discourses influencing the situation that we may otherwise overlook.

To produce the ordered map for the food system research, Martin [13] took all the elements and actors from the messy map, and positioned them under Clarke's headings. Thinking of the descriptions in terms of the categories stimulated identification of areas that were not otherwise obvious, particularly for a novice researcher. For example, discussions about community kitchens included data about the food-provisioning group “Food Not Bombs”. It was the inclusion of this group, as a collective human element, that highlighted their role in food provision, because that organization does not fit within the original conceptualization of community kitchens by the researcher. The importance of this group, who use food resourced from dumpsters or other questionable sources to feed street involved people, was made obvious when given an equal place on the ordered map as other aspects of the food safety/food security situation. This map was part of the analytical process to move from data on specific cases to develop and describe social worlds/arenas. Martin [13] placed the elements in the situation in these groupings as a way to organize her thinking and it was not intended to ‘box in’ concepts, but to provide a beginning framework for analysis. The situational maps have the freedom to grow and change and can inform theoretical sensitivity and drive further data collection.

3.2. Social worlds/arenas maps

A second category of maps used to explore the situation is social worlds/arenas maps ( Figure 1 ). This category locates social action or activity at the intermediate (meso) level of a situation and demonstrates where discourses are active [12] . For example, the ordered map shows a range from the micro to macro level of specific actors and elements in the situation while the social worlds/arenas map highlight groups, such as departments in health authorities, food security networks, and regulatory agencies. Arenas are “a field of action and interaction among a potentially wide variety of collective entities” [23] and includes actors such as organizations, social worlds, new social movements, ideologies, and technologies. The term “social worlds” comes from the work of Strauss. Clarke [23] describes these as universes of discourses in arenas, and they include collective action and shared commitments that define the social world. Mead [27] used the term “universes of discourses” to capture the idea that understanding a phenomena can occur through examining what is embedded in relationships. The meaning is made by working together for a common goal.

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Specifically, Martin [13] was concerned with tensions expressed and experienced by actors working in food safety and food security and how those actors communicate and collaborate (or not). The questions asked of the data in creating this map were: what are the patterns of collective commitments of the actors and the salient social worlds; who is participating or who is not; why or why not are they participating; and what are the characteristics of the social world? [12] . The social worlds are fluid, as there is no true boundary between them, and they can overlap since people are often located in more than one social world at a time [12] .

This map has four main arenas reflecting the tensions between food safety and food security, shown by the darker lines: food movement, public health, food safety regulatory, and economic. There are seven social worlds that are within and crossover arenas, shown by the lighter lines: networks, producers/sellers, health promotion, health protection, provincial, federal, and trade. Within that situation are groups of human and nonhuman actors that sit in or across social worlds and arenas shown in the boxes. In Figure 2 , we isolate just the public health arena to illustrate the type of information derived from this map, focusing mainly on the health promotion and health protection worlds. While other worlds in the diagram cross into this arena, there is a broader discussion of those worlds in the dissertation [13] , within the arena sections. One of the biggest challenges we experienced in doing situational analysis was writing the findings, which are non-linear, in a linear manner to draw a coherent picture for the reader.

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Here we focus on one of the arenas to illustrate the complexity of the situation, and challenges in describing the context. From the theoretical perspective of complex adaptive systems, this map shows a holistic view or interconnecting worlds and actors. It is the patterns of relationships that placed these actors and worlds in the positions in which they are located on this map. In this situation, the public health arena (field of action) involves the provincial world, health promotion world, health protection world and a small piece of the producer/sellers and networks worlds. Each of these social worlds has commitments to activities that build their interest. Traditionally, public health actors who worked with food were involved with chronic disease prevention, healthy eating, and inspection of food premises that cook and serve food for sale. More recently, food security discourse and action in public health has grown, expanding on traditional public health work to include agriculture, environment, and food systems policy. In BC, this is partially due to the introduction of the food security core public health program. Promotion of healthy food consumption and access to food are part of the health promotion world. In this world, professionals such as community nutritionists, community health nurses, or community developers work with populations to identify solutions to local health needs. Community nutritionists are educated as dieticians and regulated under the College of Dieticians. Their nutrition training includes food safety, and they work closely with community members on food security activities such as food banks, food reclamation (reducing food waste), community gardens and kitchens, food policy, and Indigenous food systems. Community nutritionists have a strong interest in health equity.

The food security core program made explicit the scope of work necessary to support healthy communities [28] . It is important for public health to be involved in health promotion activities that directly tackle obvious issues of hunger and poor quality diets, but also to work in a systemic way, with vision to support producers and sellers. This includes reducing exploitation of farm workers in the agri-food system and working toward food justice for basic human needs [29] . The Food Security Model Core Program paper [28] does not explicitly name food justice as an objective, but does support the use of environmentally sustainable production and distribution methods, supporting the concept of food justice as described by Allen [29] .

The health protection world consists mainly of EHOs as key actors, also referred to as health inspectors. They have four areas of work: air quality, land use as it affects the environment, water quality, and food safety. While land and water may affect food production areas, the work is not in food production but mainly in sewer systems and swimming pools. Food safety work of the EHO is primarily inspection of food premises (restaurants or temporary food markets) and food production facilities where food is prepared for the market place. Work of the EHO relies heavily on understanding and applying the Public Health Act [30] and the Safe Food for Canadians Act [31] . EHO education and training provides them with a certain worldview of owning power and authority that may appear antagonistic to small-scale producers.

The health promotion and health protection worlds sit in the public health arena but they do not overlap. The difference between these worlds is in the approach to the food situation. Dieticians in this study described their desire for people (usually those who are most at risk of food insecurity) to feel comfortable in dealing with them, while the EHO is seen in the role of enforcer and protector. These are two very different styles of working with people although both professions have the same goal of a safe and accessible food supply. At times, they get a very different response from people they serve. There is an approach to community that involves working collaboratively and in an egalitarian way with people (“doing with or power with”), and a more top-down approach that involves power and control over people (“doing to or power over”) [32] . Although a number of EHOs do approach their work in a community development-like way, people in this study talked about the EHO's reputation of enforcer and protector getting in the way of relationships with producers and sellers.

The distance in the diagram between EHO's and actors in the food movement arena represents the distance described by study participants. Only a small portion of informants in the food movement arena had an established relationship with an EHO. Those who did were less fearful of the outcomes of inspection. A seller at a farmer's market noted “She [the EHO] definitely is in control of us. I mean she's good to work with but she was pretty scary at first. So I guess that's how they establish authority.” Considered by some as “sanitary police,” EHOs generated a mixed reaction from their clients. Some people expressed fear of authority figures because of the power they have to affect the lives of people who they may see as non-compliant. Others see compliance with food safety regulations as good business. If the EHO is not approachable, there are fewer opportunities for the EHO to educate and support producers or sellers in safe practice. The center of the problem may be in the misfit of regulations for small-scale producers and the fact that the EHO has little power to modify regulations.

The public health arena is only one piece of the story describing this situation. The other arenas depict the situation from the economic perspective, the changes in the developing food movement, and the details of food safety regulation. Each arena has a story describing the situation. It is through these descriptions that we can begin to see patterns evolve, and the way that groups self-organize, as in the developing food movement. The focus on the relationships in situational analysis highlights the interconnected nature of complex adaptive systems.

3.3. Positional maps

The final category of maps Clark [12] uses to chart data is the abstract positional map ( Figure 3 ) which shows various positions within major discursive issues arising in the data. Positional maps highlight the range of positions on issues, not those associated with individuals, groups or institutions but positions in discourses as reflected in the data [12] . This type of mapping attempts to separate the politics of representation from the discourse and helps to identify the complexity of emerging behaviours [12] . That is to say, positional maps are higher order conceptualizations of positions in the data, not linked to individuals or groups. Clarke [12] argues that positional maps, which are free of associations with individuals or institutions, help the researcher to see situations better because they are representative of the larger picture, where there is a broader view. It is this holistic view that corresponds to the theoretical approach of complex adaptive systems.

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As an example of how situational analysis is useful for illustrating complexity and context, we provide the positional map in Figure 3 . This map is based on familiarity people have with the food producer and their expectations for government to protect the population from foodborne illness. The closer activities get to an anonymous market of producers and consumers, the greater the expectations for government to be involved food safety protection. The x-axis represents the expectations participants have of the government to provide protection, and ranges from no expectation (-) to full expectation (+). The y-axis represents the familiarity of participants with the producer, and ranges from no familiarity or being total strangers (-) to great familiarity (+).This positional map illustrates the idea that familiarity leads to trust, and trust reduces the need for costly investments in safety monitoring or enforcement institutions [33] .

The positional map tells a story of its own. The first position in the data is ‘little inspection required' (1) with low public expectations for the government to protect on the x-axis and high degree of familiarity between producer and consumer on the y-axis. This position involves active participation in acquiring food from a friend who is a farmer. There is a high level of trust and appreciation for the work involved in growing food, and regulatory oversite may appear as an additional burden for farmers who the public see as already working hard to keep the farm viable. This position is also evident in discourse about the concept of ‘food sovereignty’ [34] . The emphasis is on local food production respecting the environment, farm workers, and local empowerment. By food sovereignty we mean a process of expanding democracy to regenerate local, autonomous, healthy and ecologically sound food systems that respect the right of people to decent working conditions and incomes [35] , [36] . It is a food system apart from industrial agriculture.

The second position in the data on this map is to ‘Irradiate all food' (2), grounded on the high end of expectation for government to protect on the x-axis and mid-level degree of familiarity on the y-axis. The familiarity with the farmer is of no consequence for this position, because of the concept that all food is potentially high risk for foodborne illness. For a slight decrease in quality, society would gain a significant reduction in illness. This is a highly contested position by many local growers. There is a position, however, where many warrant a high degree of regulation because of the technological advances in the ways we can eradicate foodborne illness.

The third position on this map, ‘Needs inspection’ (3), is on the high end of expectation for government to protect on the x-axis and a low degree of familiarity on the y-axis. This would include imported food, especially from China due to high pesticide use and the use of melamine as a food additive. This also applies to food sold in grocery stores. This position favours regulations for large anonymous food systems and it not usually contested.

The final position for this map is number four: ‘some inspection required’ (4), which is centred between both axes. Eggs and farmers' markets are included in this position. Eggs are primarily from large-scale producers and go through a grading station, but there are also ungraded eggs for sale in smaller grocery stores and farmer's markets. Similarly, with farmer's markets, there were a number of patrons who were happy with the extent the government regulates them. A number of people felt more regulations would affect the vendors and, therefore, decrease the scale and quality of the markets. The story from this positional map is that the public expects a certain amount of regulatory oversight, but too much restriction is undesirable largely where there is the demand for local food.

The result with situational analysis is not a substantive theory as with grounded theory, but maps representing substantive theorizing that describes and explains the situation [12] . In Food Gone Foul, the story was about trust and relationships to allay fears of unsafe food, lack of food, and lack of control over the food supply for those who are seeking food sovereignty.

The social worlds/arenas maps are not as intuitive for relaying a story as one might find with a grounded theory diagram, but the maps are rich in demonstrating complexity. In writing on Food Gone Foul, Martin [13] displayed and described each of the four arenas separately, followed by describing the various position in the data. The challenge was to give a linear reading to a nonlinear situation, while retaining the iterative and complex nature of the relationships.

4. Situational analysis and complex adaptive systems

Situational Analysis is a relatively new method stemming from grounded theory that can be used to map context and complexity of situations. Clarke, however, did not develop the method specifically in relation to principles and properties of complex adaptive systems thinking. Applying Anderson and colleagues [7] blueprint for complex adaptive systems was a way to focus discussion in the Food Gone Foul study, but more work is needed in this area to recognize evidence of emergence, nonlinearity, self-organization, and co-evolution. Evidence of these traits may be more apparent in longitudinal studies, where the research can track changes to recognize the process of self-organization or co-evolution, for example. However, from a methodological perspective and based on our experience, situational analysis allows the freedom to describe a situation occurring in a food system (for example) with complex adaptive systems concepts in mind. Properties of complex adaptive systems, either from Anderson and colleagues [7] or others such as Holland [37] , could be included in a social worlds/arenas map to expand analysis to recognize how these properties manifest.

Complex adaptive systems principles of human and non-human agents and interconnections, as used by both Anderson and colleagues [7] and Clarke [12] , are common for many research methods, including social network analysis and analysis based on actor-network theory. The researcher can identify the principle of self-organization in the situational maps where clusters are evident, based on behaviours that may result from coping with changes. The principle of emergence, which occurs when properties are distinct from individual agents but evolves from the actions of those agents, is evident through positional maps in Situational Analysis. The researcher does not attach positions in the data to a person or organization, but recognize the positions as they emerge from a higher-level understanding of the situation. Co-evolution is most evident when the analyst looks beyond the system boundaries in both past and current behaviours. For example, climate change is beyond the system boundaries but discussions of climate change have co-evolved with the growing local food movement. This may be more evident in studies with longitudinal data collection, to capture change over time. It is by observing the complex system as a whole in the situational maps, and understanding the history or evolution of that system, that we can consider how systems co-evolve and influence each other. There remains work in developing specific methods that capture and describe complexity science, particularly social complexity, and this study provides a launching point for further methodological development when studying complex adaptive systems.

5. Situational analysis and public health research

Situational analysis is well suited as a method to study context, as illustrated by the above example. It is particularly beneficial for the study of public health implementation research where the context of implementation has a strong influence on the outcomes of policies and programs. For example, implementing the new food security core public health program in the context of a growing local food movement resulted in changes for the way the food safety core program was delivered, with more lenience toward farmer's markets than in the past. We have found context to be important in our studies on evidence informed practice, the renewal of public health systems, and in examining the use of an equity lens in public health.

A main strength of situational analysis is the alignment of the method with concepts of complex adaptive systems. Research in many public health domains is limited when randomized controlled trials are the preferred method. Randomization is often impossible in public health programs because of equity issues, and context is stripped in most epidemiological research involving experimental and quasi-experimental designs. In complexity, context interacts with and thus is part of the intervention, so stripping it from study does not allow us to answer the important research questions. Recognizing public health as a complex adaptive system operating in real-world settings, and identifying an appropriate research method is essential to advancing public and population health outcomes.

Situational analysis does have weaknesses that are important to consider. As with grounded theory and many qualitative research methods, it is time consuming, particularly with large scale, multi-site studies. Coding data is only the beginning process, which is challenging to do well in large teams. Map making may benefit from multiple perspectives, but it is important for team members to have a depth of knowledge of the interviews when engaged in the map-making process. Using the social worlds/arenas map for knowledge translation purposes can be challenging as well. For this reason, when reporting to participants, Martin [13] included a separate diagram that was more closely aligned with a grounded theory diagram to explain the outcomes of her study because it was easier to communicate and understand. The positional maps, however, can be quite useful to guide the reader though discourses found in the situation.

6. Conclusion

As a research method, situational analysis is only beginning to be used in health related studies [38] . However, this method has the potential, along with Strauss' conditional matrix, to move public health knowledge beyond the individual and the basic social process, toward taken-for-granted structural conditions that can negatively affect the wellness of individuals and groups. This method can offer an alternative view on studies of intersectoral collaboration, social justice and the social determinants of health, all of which are inherent in the work of those engaged in public health and health promotion. Studies completed by the RePHSS team have demonstrated this method has great potential for work in areas of complexity, and will continue to seek the best way to engage complex adaptive systems concepts fully.


We have developed our understanding of applying Situational Analysis to public health research through three additional studies under the Core Public Health Functions Research Initiative. The Knowledge to Action (KTA – Funding Reference Number 86793) study focused on the implementation of the Food Safety Core Program and the Unintentional Injuries Prevention Core Program. Renewal of Public Health Systems (RePHS – Funding Reference Number 92255) study compared the process of public health renewal within and between BC and Ontario, and the Equity Lens in Public Health (ELPH - Funding Reference Number 116688) study used Situational Analysis to understand health equity priorities and strategies across provincial health authorities. Funding for these studies, including Food Gone Foul (Application Number 204458), is from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Additional funding was provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.


Conflict of Interest: All authors declare no conflicts of interest in this paper.

How to Write a Situational Analysis for a Research Paper

by Georgia Dennis

Published on 26 Sep 2017

Situational analyses are used in the marketing world to evaluate a business's needs, strengths and weaknesses. They can also be beneficial when writing research papers in any arena. They can be used to evaluate the validity of the project and the strength of the research or experiments, and they can help isolate areas that may cause problems later in the project.

List between 10 to 20 questions that help identify the full nature and scope of your project. These questions may be what effect, either positive or negative, temperature conditions will have on the outcome of my experiment? Or is the researcher from the previous study someone who is completely unbiased? What year was the previous study completed, and have the theories involved changed since then? What factors can be controlled, and what can not be regulated?

Answer each of your questions in detailed form. Be completely honest, and provide information as in-depth as possible. These 10 to 20 answers will form the basis of your situational analysis. Once you are satisfied that each answer is as complete and truthful as possible, rewrite each answer into a logical, cohesive paragraph.

Use your detailed paragraphs to isolate major problems or issues with your project. You may have problems that arise only when you delve into the heart of your research. Make a detailed plan on how you can address the problems. Write a section for your situational analysis that outlines how you will fix any problems and acknowledges any weaknesses in your project that cannot be fixed.

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Example Of Research Paper On Situational Analysis: Marketing Analysis Of Emwatch Incorporated

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Customers , Competition , Market , Internet , Business , Marketing , Company , Products

Words: 1700

Published: 01/15/2020



EMWATCH incorporated is an Australian based company that specializes in multifunctional time pieces. The company’s flagship product is the EMwatch which combines timing and telephony capabilities in a wrist watch. The company prides itself in being a market leader in creating, designing and marketing multi-use wrist watches. EMWATCH Incorporated is run by two directors who are also the founders of the company. They chose to continue managing the company despite its phenomenal growth because the still want to determine the direction and pace of growth. The directors are driven, focused, innovative, passionate and committed to their company. They use their qualities to recruit and employ managers and staff for the company. This highly specific selection process has ensured that the company has a staff of ambitious, self-driven individuals who work together as a unit (Saxena, 2009). Currently, EMWATCH Incorporated has 100 employees who work in the 5 key departments. These departments are production, finance, human resource, product development and marketing departments. Innovation is at the core of the EMWATCH’s objectives. The company prides itself in reinventing the wristwatch with functional that were initially put in mobile phones and other comparatively larger communication devices. The EMwatch is a classic example of a simple wrist watch that can be used to make and receive calls, send SOS messages and retrieve information on the location of the wearer using GPS technology. Since its inception in 2002, the company has consistently released quality products at competitive prices.


A SWOT analysis is a thorough examination of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that a company may face while operating. A SWOT analysis is more crucial for a company that is trying to launch a new product into the market. This is because the analysis allows the company to understand their relative position in the market bases on an honest evaluation of its, products, style of operation, brand name, market penetration, competitors and operational challenges (Bohm, 2009).

The value of EMWATCH Incorporated is in its highly innovative staff. The company has consistently developed wrist watches that are ahead of the pack. The company has perfected the art of combining the latest miniaturization techniques in mobile telephones and basic wrist watch function which is to tell time. The EMwatch is an innovative product that combines basic timing capabilities with mobile communication functionality in a wrist watch. The company also produces unique products with multiple uses. The EMwatch does not compete directly with wristwatches or mobile phones because it is watch packed with calling and tracking devices. The EMwatch can be used to make calls, receive calls and send messages. The calls and messages sent can be used to track the location of the sender. The watch is also installed with GPRS tracking which is efficient in locating anyone, in any location globally. Finally, the watch has a designated SOS button which can be pressed when emergency assistance is requires. This can be used by the elder and incapacitated individuals who have mobility challenges.

EMWATCH is a small company that operates within Australia. This has limited the company’s accessibility to emerging markets which could increase its sales volumes. EMWATCH relies on its online store to reach potential customers in other countries. This limited presence in the market limits the company’s access to more customers, especially in developed countries in the USA and Europe. EMWATCH has a small product portfolio. Since its inception, the company has only managed to produce three major products. This place the company at a great risk of closure should these products become obsolete.


The company has recorded great success in the Australian market. Its online sales to North America and Europe have been growing at an average annual rate of 9%. The company could take advantage of this positive growth by establishing a physical presence in these two regions. Additionally, the company could outsource some non-sensitive operations such as the actual assemblage of the EMwatches to another country where labor and material costs are lower. Personal devices like watches could be used for other functions apart from making emergency calls and receiving calls. The health sector can benefit from additional research into the use of wrist watches to measure heart rate and warn patients of an impending heart attack. Advanced technology and the need for smaller more efficient devices open up the possibilities for innovative companies such as EMWATCH.

EMWATCH operates in a highly competitive market. The new product may not enjoy any exclusivity because competitors are always prepared to produce competing products. China is a big threat to technological companies because the country is able to replicate and reproduce similar products at lower costs. This causes losses to companies that spend millions in product development and production. Some of the biggest producers and sellers of emergency watches from China are Super digital Technology Company Limited and Shenzhen Leed Electronic Company Limited.


It is not correct to classify EMWATCH Incorporated as a watch making company because the company’s products are sold as watches but have uses that go beyond time telling. However, for purposes of this analysis, we will categorize the company as within the watch making industry. The watch making industry is flooded with companies that cater to all segments of the market. There are high end designers who make fashionable statement pieces which speak to the affluence of the wearer. Companies such as Rolex and Tag Heuer make world renowned time pieces that go beyond functionality. These companies occupy the top 1% of the industry share. The biggest chunk of the industry, 94%, is composed of thousands of companies which make and sell middle to low end watches. Most of these companies rely on brand name, product quality and competitive pricing to survive. The final segment is where EMWATCH falls. These are companies which create and sell watches which have other functional feature apart from timing. This segment is still profitable because it is still growing.


The product is designed for use by children, the elderly, the sick and pets. Parents can buy the watches for their children who may need tracking. The elderly and those who are bed ridden can press the designated SOS buttons whenever they need to raise the attention of their caregivers. The marketing strategy should appeal to the care givers who are between 25-50 years old. This group has the required purchasing power, children, pets and the responsibility to cater for their parents or other dependants. The product is majorly sold in Australia; however, the online store serves a broader global market which is growing (Czinkota, 2007).


The company will design a marketing campaign that will be directed at middle to upper segment of the market. These are individuals who have well-paying jobs and live in suburbia and other well-to do neighborhoods (Lamb, Hair & McDaniel, 2012). Sales records form the company indicates that 88% of total sales are from the company stores in high-end malls. 10% of the sales are from international internet buyers while 2% is from sales made directly to employees.


The targeted market is discerning and technologically savvy. The potential buyers understand technology and how it can be used to make their lives easier. Therefore, they are willing to spend a considerable amount to purchase a functional product as long as they see value in the product. These individuals are probably busy at work but would like to be aware of the location of their loved ones in case of an emergency.


Product The product is the EMwatch which is a wristwatch inbuilt with calling, texting, tracking and SOS messaging. The wristwatch has 4 days of battery life, 5 hours talk time, hands free call ability, GPRS connectivity and a compass feature for those who may be lost. The wrist watch will have genuine leather straps and 65mm by 43mm by 19 mm LED screen.

The EMwatch will be sold at $ 70 as an introductory price. The product price will be revised upwards to $85, one month after the launch. The price is inclusive of all accessories which are a charger and

The promotional strategy will use personal selling as a promotional focus. Customers will be given a one-time low price during the launch of the product. They will be given a one year warranty on their purchase and a money back guarantee should the product fail within 3 months of purchase. All this information will be prominently displayed in all promotional materials.

Advertising will be done majorly through media advertising. The company’s stores will run additional promotional exercises in the malls where the target market shops. The company’s online shop and affiliated gadgetry shops will spread the information to international clients.


The Chinese companies that compete with EMWATCH Incorporated advertise on the internet. They rely heavily on e-commerce sites such as e-bay to reach their international clients. Their company sites often have poorly translated messages which non-mandarin speaking clients cannot understand. EMWATCH has a comparative advantage over its Chinese competitors because the company can communicate clearly to majority of its potential clients who are English speakers.

Böhm, A. (2009). The SWOT Analysis. München: GRIN Verlag. Clarke, A. E. (2005). Situational analysis: Grounded theory after the postmodern turn. Thousand Oaks [u.a.: Sage. Czinkota, M. R., & A, R. I. (2007). International marketing. United States: Thompson. Lamb, C. W., Hair, J. F., & McDaniel, C. D. (2012). Essentials of marketing. Mason, Ohio: South-Western Cengage Learning. Saxena, R. (2009). Marketing management. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.

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What is Situational Analysis? Tips and How-To for Your Next Analysis

What is situational analysis.

Situational analysis is the method and process of analyzing the internal and external factors that affect your business’s performance. These factors could be good or bad, creating opportunities or limiting your ability to reach important goals.

Read on to learn more about the describing your business’s competitive environment or jump ahead to one of the following sections:

The 5 Components of a Situational Analysis

Is situational analysis the same as swot analysis, how to write a situational analysis, when to conduct a situational analysis.

A thorough situational analysis requires that you step back from your business and consider multiple perspectives to capture the full picture. To get a bird’s-eye view, use the 5 Cs approach and think through your business’s environment by considering the company, customers, competitors, collaborators, and climate. 

Some elements within each of these lenses will support your business as it grows, while other elements will make it more difficult to reach your goals. It’s important to include everything significant, good or bad, so that you can work to mitigate risks and leverage your company’s strengths. 

The Company

When considering “the company” for your analysis, you’ll take into account the vision, culture, and goals for the organization. These can impact your company positively by attracting best-in-class talent or positioning your organization as a leader. On the other hand, a lack of strong vision can make it harder to motivate employees. 

Also articulate what you’re selling. Defining your product offering helps ground your organization into a specific industry or vertical. For some industries, intellectual property like patents are extremely important in establishing a competitive advantage.

The Customer

While diving into “the customer,” you’ll articulate your target market and any exciting marketing opportunities. 

What are your customers saying about your products or services? Great feedback, reviews, and advocacy from your customers will go a long way. Note any strengths or weaknesses in brand awareness in this section, too.

The Competitors

“The competitors” section will provide context on external forces within your industry. Within a SWOT analysis , these external factors would show up as either threats or opportunities. One competitor’s weakness is your brand’s chance to shine! 

In this section, be sure to note their intellectual property, differentiators, and any major investments within the market. For example, they may be expanding their brick-and-mortar footprint or have just launched a new way to shop online. These may be a sign that you should adjust your strategy to better compete.

The Collaborators

Formal and informal partnerships fall into “the collaborators” section. These are the external businesses or organizations that you can’t reach your goals without. For example, if you sell your product through a third-party marketplace like Amazon, note it here. 

Collaborators could be your manufacturers, shipping services, advertising or marketing agencies, or suppliers. Your relationship with these providers can help your organization grow, but it can also expose you to external risks that fall far beyond your control. It’s important to consider these in your analysis because you may decide to bring a function in-house or work with a different provider based on the pros and cons of each.

The Climate

Macroeconomics and political forces fall into “the climate.” Your day-to-day business is affected by rules and regulations set on the local, state, and national levels. A more strict set of safety regulations could increase costs for your company, while tariffs and taxes may affect your international business strategies.

Economic downturns or broad customer sentiment can also change how your population prioritizes their spending. How would your company be affected by a recession? Understanding these factors can help you create long-term strategies that protect your business.

Situational Analysis refers to a broader set of activities, but if you’re familiar with SWOT analysis , the 5 Cs listed above may sound familiar. Both have the goal of describing the business environment, but SWOT sets up a particular framework of categorizing your findings into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Learn more about out using SWOT to complete your situational analysis:

Writing a thorough situation analysis takes time, research, and input from experts within your organization or industry. The following steps will help you organize ideas, collect feedback, and identify recommendations. 

Step 1: Engage With Your Organization’s Experts

You don’t have to complete your analysis alone, and you shouldn’t! By collecting feedback from other leaders and strategists across your organization, you can complete a well-rounded analysis.

How you engage with these leaders is up to you. You could conduct interviews or host discussions and take notes, or you could ask them to fill out their thoughts and ideas on the 5 Cs listed above. You could also ask them to independently build their own SWOT charts with their business unit in mind, then collect this feedback to inform your holistic report.

You could also host workshops and use brainstorming techniques to identify and discuss important factors to your business. 

Step 2: Compile, Validate, and Prioritize Factors

Depending on how you collected feedback on what items are important to understanding your current situation, you may have a loooong list at the end of your initial dive into the details. But, not all these ideas can or should make the final cut for your situational analysis.

Review your list and rank each item on its potential impact for the business. You could use a scale from 1 to 5 or simply bucket each factor into “high impact,” “low impact,” and “unlikely to impact.” 

For example, if a regulation is currently going through the lawmaking process and would affect your industry, that factor should definitely be included in your analysis. If someone generally suggests that regulations could affect your business model, but nothing is on docket, you don’t need to include this suggestion in your analysis.

You may also have some opinions or generalizations included in your list. If your main competitor has “more locations,” do a quick search to determine how many more. If their food is “higher quality,” how? Is this an opinion or can you back it up with data about their brand perception? 

Remove any factors that are unlikely to impact your business’s outcomes or can’t be proven with data.

Step 3: Summarize Your Findings

While you may have removed or consolidated your list in Step 2, your full situational analysis could still be several pages in writing. For busy executives and leadership teams, that level of detail might not be appropriate.

Create a 1-page summary of the factors you ranked as most important. This summary could continue to use the 5 Cs framework to organize everything, or you could input the factors into a SWOT analysis to create an easy-to-share visual. 

Step 4: Dig into the Details

Along with your summarization, create a document that outlines your remaining factors and provides details for each. 

For example, your summary page may say “Competitor A has a larger presence in the Midwest, with 50% more locations.” Within your detailed report, you may include a map of competitor locations, estimations of revenue coming from the midwest, or a recommendation to research expansion in the region. 

Step 5: Share Your Analysis and Create an Action Plan

Once you’ve compiled a high-level summary and detailed report, it’s time to share your understanding of the environment. Whether this exercise was part of the strategic planning process or you just wanted to take a fresh look at the competitive landscape, make sure to communicate your insights to your teammates. 

You likely identified some opportunities or risks that your organization should address. Maybe the marketing team needs to update their messaging to be more competitive. One of your competitors could be using a process or manufacturer that you’d like to test or investigate. Whatever ideas you have based upon your analysis, share them throughout your organization to ensure the relevant teams can address them.

In addition to sharing with the leaders who could immediately take action, it could be helpful to publish or share this report with a broader audience. A strong situational analysis can help with onboarding and can help workers throughout your organization feel more connected to the business and strategy. Consider conducting a stakeholder analysis to determine a detailed communications plan.

Step 6: Revisit and Revise

Your business’s competitive environment and position in that environment is going to change over time. This means that the data and analysis covered in your report will be outdated in a matter of months. 

Depending on your goals, it’s a good idea to revisit or redo a situational analysis before any major long-term planning. Include a “last revised” date in your report and be sure to revisit it at least once each year to reflect the latest and greatest of your industry.

There are a few times when conducting a situational analysis is particularly valuable. In general, any time you or your team needs an overview of the competitive environment or the organization’s position, this exercise can help. You can conduct this analysis as part of the strategic planning process or for more specific initiatives, like:

Any time you’re trying to balance your organization against your competitors — in marketing, investment decisions, processes, and more — a situational analysis can help. 

Use Gliffy to Capture and Organize Your Ideas

Whether you decide to present your analysis as a SWOT chart or need a quick way to organize ideas into the 5 Cs of situational analysis, Gliffy can help! Our online diagramming tools make it easy to quickly capture ideas in a digital format, sort of like a whiteboard. 

Get started with a free trial of Gliffy Online or learn more about our Atlassian diagramming apps today. 

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How to Conduct a Situation Analysis

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A situation analysis or environmental analysis is the fundamental first step in the social and behavior change communication change (SBCC) process. It involves a systematic collection and study of health and demographic data, study findings and other contextual information in order to identify and understand the specific health issue to be addressed. It examines the current status of the health issue as well as the social, economic, political and health context in which the health issue exists and establishes the vision for the SBCC program. A complete situation analysis gathers information on four areas:

Why Conduct a Situation Analysis?

A situation analysis guides the identification of priorities for an SBCC intervention and informs all the following steps in the SBCC process. It establishes a clear, detailed and realistic picture of the opportunities, resources, challenges and barriers regarding a particular health issue or behavior. The quality of the situation analysis will affect the success of the entire SBCC effort.

Who Should Conduct a Situation Analysis?

A small, focused team should conduct the situation analysis . Members should include communication staff, health/social service staff and, if available, research staff.

Throughout the data collection process, team members should also consider how to engage stakeholders including opinion leaders, service providers, policy makers, partners, and potential beneficiaries. Ways to obtain stakeholder input include in-depth interviews , focus group discussions , community dialogue, small group meetings, taskforce engagement or participatory stakeholder workshops .

When Should a Situation Analysis Be Conducted?

A situation analysis should be conducted at the beginning of a program or project, before developing an SBCC strategy. It is part of the inquiry phase of the P-Process .

Estimated Time Needed

Completing a situation analysis can take up to two weeks. Consider the size of the project, scope of the literature review, how much data is available and easily accessible, and whether additional stakeholder or audience input is needed. Allow for additional time if formative research is needed to fill in any gaps that may exist in the literature.

Learning Objectives

After completing the activities in the situation analysis guide, the team will:

The steps below will help to identify the problem and establish the vision for the SBCC intervention. Please note this how-to guide should be followed along with an audience analysis and a program analysis to obtain the full picture required for a successful SBCC strategy.

Step 1: Identify the Health Issue

For many health programs or strategies, the health issue is identified at the outset, such as when a funder releases a request for proposals for a child health project or when a government ministry requests specific technical assistance for HIV prevention programs.

At other times, it may be necessary for an organization itself to identify the broad health issue that needs to be addressed in a particular geographic area. To do so, review existing health and demographic data, survey results, study findings and any other available data to identify the priority health issue. Throughout the review, pay attention to the following types of information:

Step 2: Develop a Problem Statement

Successful SBCC strategies focus on one specific issue at a time. Addressing too many issues or too general an issue, such as overall reproductive health, can be confusing. To help focus the situation analysis, develop a focused problem statement, such as:

example of situational analysis in research paper

This problem statement names the health issue (family planning) and indicates who is affected (newly married couples), where (Zed district) and, if known, the extent of the problem (a high amount). A well-written problem statement has the added benefit of providing specific search terms to use in collecting documents for the desk review (see Step 4).

To develop a problem statement, it may be helpful to first have all of the team members state the problem in their own words. Then, as a group, write a clear one- to two-sentence problem statement that reflects the team’s common understanding and that can guide the data collection and analysis on that specific health issue.

Step 3: Draft a Shared Vision

A vision provides a picture of what the situation will look like when the SBCC effort is completely successful and will anchor the SBCC intervention by stating what the program hopes to influence. A good vision statement provides direction, communicates enthusiasm and fosters commitment and dedication. A good vision should:

To guide the team during the initial data collection and analysis, draft a provisional vision statement, which will later be shared with stakeholders to create a shared vision for the SBCC effort. One approach to developing the vision follows: each team member individually imagines the future she wants to see and draws that image on a paper. Team members share the pictures with each other and discuss similarities and differences. The team agrees on the elements that inspire them, adding new elements that arise from the discussion, and draws a new picture that represents the vision of the entire team. The team then translates the picture into words to create a vision statement.

The vision should be written in the present tense and then tested to make sure it meets the criteria of a good vision listed above.

example of situational analysis in research paper

Once the team has conducted an initial situation analysis, the provisional vision will be shared with stakeholders involved in the SBCC strategy design process and agreed upon. This can be done through a stakeholder workshop or informal meetings where stakeholders provide feedback and suggest changes to the provisional vision statement. The resulting shared vision statement should clarify what is important for all stakeholders and guide the strategy design and development process.

Step 4: Conduct a Desk Review

To better understand the health issue and to address the problem, the team needs to conduct a desk or literature review. To start this process, review the vision and problem statements and divide them up into concepts. Develop a list of keywords related to those concepts. Brainstorm additional synonyms and related keywords for each concept. These keywords will be the search terms used to find relevant literature.

example of situational analysis in research paper

Step 5: Decide the Scope of the Review

Determine how many studies and how comprehensive the review should be. Decide on the dates for the data, the studies to be collected and the best databases (or other sources of information such as partners) to focus the search ( see commonly used databases for literature reviews under resources). Decide whether the review will include only peer review literature or will expand into grey literature .

Step 6: Identify the Relevant Information

Use the keywords/search terms to look for literature that fits within the scope of the review, including existing quantitative and qualitative data about the problem and the people affected. Look for information on:

example of situational analysis in research paper

Look for both national and local data using online searches, local library resources, and partner resources. Good sources include:

Step 7: Review and Organize the Data

Focus only on information that will help the project team address the problem and avoid including information that is not as relevant for SBCC. Organize and summarize the findings in a way that makes them easy to use ( see Literature Review Template under templates).

example of situational analysis in research paper

While reviewing the data, organize the studies that contain information on potential audiences for SBCC interventions. Some studies provide information on what people think, feel and do about the health problem, what influences their behavior and the communication channels they use. Capture this information for use in the audience analysis ( see Audience Focused Literature Review Template under templates).

example of situational analysis in research paper

A desk review is complete when no new information is discovered and the articles introduce similar arguments, methodologies, findings, authors and studies.

Write a list of questions that are not adequately answered in the available data and questions that arise from the data. For example, the team may need additional information on local practices or beliefs about the health issue. These are gaps that stakeholders might be able to address during a stakeholder workshop .

Step 8: Analyze the Data and Summarize the Findings

Look closely at the information collected. Determine the commonalities and conflicts among the studies. Decide if the information is valid and important in addressing the health issue. A good way to summarize the findings is to write a situation analysis report, which can be shared with the larger project team and relevant stakeholders.

Step 9: Fill the Existing Gaps

Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with members of potential audiences can help fill any information gaps that remain after the desk review. One way to fill gaps is to hold a stakeholder workshop . Other ways to fill gaps include holding in-depth interviews and focus groups with key informants or potential audience members; and conducting facility surveys (health, social service, religious or other facilities).

Literature Review Template

Audience-Focused Literature Review Template

Situation Analysis of Behavior Change Communication Activities in Bihar

The Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Belize: An Ecological Review

Situation Analysis of Nutrition in Southern Sudan: Analysis Based on June 2009 Assessment

Vulnerable Girls and HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Literature and Program Review

MSM + HIV + Africa

Tips & Recommendations

Lessons Learned

Glossary & Concepts

Resources and References

Commonly Used Databases for Literature Reviews

Conducting Literature Reviews and Finding Information

A Field Guide to Designing a Health Communication Strategy

Leadership in Strategic Communication: Making a Difference in Infectious Disease and Reproductive Health

Understanding the Situation: Practitioner’s Handbook

Banner Photo: © 2008 Anil Gulati, Courtesy of Photoshare


SBC How-to Guides are short guides that provide step-by-step instructions on how to perform core social and behavior change tasks. From formative research through monitoring and evaluation, these guides cover each step of the SBC process, offer useful hints, and include important resources and references.

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example of situational analysis in research paper

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  8. Example Of Research Paper On Situational Analysis: Marketing

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  14. Situational Analysis Essay

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