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Commerce Subject Guide: COMM 4311: Strategic Management

A guide to key databases, reference & web sources, and research & citation guides for Commerce.

Research Guide for Commerce 4311: Strategic Management

Sources for SWOT Analysis Research

A SWOT analysis is a technique used to identify factors that can affect an organization’s performance, in order to ensure the best strategic management decisions can be made. It must be based on the best, most up-to-date facts to be effective. The following are selected resources that provide information for assessing a company's internal strengths and weaknesses, such as the uniqueness of its brand, its financial resources, company image, etc. and for assessing external factors that affect, or may be expected to affect the company, such as competitors, market trends, or the PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental) macro-environmental factors.


Company Information:

These sources provide basic company descriptions, some more in-depth profiles, and financial data on individual companies.

Company Directories and Financial Data:

Nexis Uni Company Dossier. To see a list of Canadian public companies, click on the "Discover Topics:  Business" image (bottom left side). Under "Company Dossier", select "Create a Company List". Change "Company type" to "All Public", Edit Geography to select Canada and click on "Create". Click on the company names to see a "Snapshot" of the company. "Edit search" to go back and change any relevant fields, e.g. US$ to Canadian$, limit by industry using NAICS or SIC, etc. Access Nexis Uni from the library's A-Z List of Databases.

FP Survey - Industrials.  Has brief  financial and operational information on publicly traded Canadian manufacturing and service companies. Online access through CIRC on the library's A-Z List of Databases.

globeandmail.com Stock Information. Enter your company name in the search box. Has stock prices, price history, and financial "fundamentals". 

Other directories exist for companies in specific industries, e.g. FP Survey - Mines & Energy, for publicly traded Canadian mining and energy resource companies. Access online through CIRC on the library's A-Z List of Databases.

 

Company Profiles:

These databases can be searched by "Company Name" fields, and include special Company Profile Reports. (Access from the library homepage link:  A-Z List of Databases):

Business Source Premier
Select the “Company Profiles” tab at the top of the search screen and enter the company name to find MarketLine Company Profiles (each about 30 pages long, with SWOT analysis, revenue analysis, regulations, list of major competitors, etc.)

ProQuest Central (or Business databases subset: ABI Collection, CBCA, etc.):
Enter the company name and change "Anywhere" to the "Company/Organization" field, and from the box below the search window select Document Type: "Company Profile". (Has Hoover's In-depth reports in pdf format.)

Nexis Uni:
Click on the "Discover Topics:  Business" image (bottom left) and enter the company name under "Company Search"  (right side).  NOTE: Details available vary by report. To find Hoover's In-depth reports, enter Hoover's in the "Search within Results" box.

 

Company Annual Reports:  - All publicly traded companies are required to publish an annual report on their operations. The most recent reports are available on company websites, usually identified by a link for "Investors" or "Financial Data".  These reports include not only financial details, but also insights into the business conditions and operating environment of the company. Some parts to look at: "Letter to Shareholders" (introduction by CEO) can include a summary of industry trends, and conditions or issues faced by the company, and “Management Discussion and Analysis” section can include hints of the company’s strategy for dealing with these and other operational issues.

Annual reports, quarterly reports and other documents required by the securities regulatory authorities in Canada can be found by searching SEDAR (System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval), the Canadian Securities Administrators' database.

SEDAR A searchable database of public company filings (annual reports, etc.) to Securities Regulatory Agencies in Canada. You can search by company or limit a search to an Industry Group, and type of document, e.g. “Management Discussion & Analysis”.

EDGAR For U.S. public companies, and companies that trade on U.S. stock exchanges, search for the equivalent Form 10-K.  The “Business Overview Section” requires a description of the nature of competition in the industry.

Tip: The annual reports of your company's top competitors may also be a good source of information for your analysis. 

 


Canadian Industries:

Analyst Reports:

Industry profiles by analysts are available in these databases accessible from the A-Z List of Databases:

ProQuest Central:  Select "Browse" tab to see report series. Searches can also be limited by Document Type: "Industry Report" (Has the most Canadian content.)

Business Source Premier:  Searches can be limited by Publication Type: "Industry Profile"

Nexis Uni: Click on the "Discover Topics:  Business" image (bottom left). Select Advanced Search and enter your search with canada as a keyword (e.g. "airline industry" and canada). Select the "Company and Financial" set from the left side, then scroll down to see the list of "Sources". Most will be company reports. Industry reports are not always identified as clearly.


Some large consulting firms also provide brief industry analysis reports and data free online, e.g. KPMG, PWC, Deloitte, McKinsey & Co. Insights, etc. (While these firms may have a high profile, the research provided free online may not contain enough information about the origin of the data (source and date) to use with confidence. As with all information found, check the references cited, track the data to the source if possible, and evaluate carefully to determine if the information is of high quality and relevant for your analysis.
 

Industry Association Reports:

Most businesses have trade or professional associations to represent them and to promote their interests. Many of these provide statistics and reports about their industry on their websites, in trade journals, business news sources, submissions to government, etc. Article/news searches will alert you to some of these, or you can find the relevant industry associations and their websites by searching the Associations Canada directory (A-Z List of Databases; check off Associations Canada only. Search by keyword, or select "Subject Search", and pick from the drop-down list.)

You can also limit a Google search for your industry to site:.ca to limit the information found to Canadian sites (e.g. “aquaculture industry” site:.ca) Use the Advanced Google search features to limit by date range, sort by date, etc.


The federal government is a major source of reliable industry-level data. See "Government Information" below.


Government Information

Research and Business Intelligence, Government of Canada.
A section of the federal government's official website "Business & Industry" page which attempts to combine all business information from various federal departments into one page. The Research and Business Intelligence section includes, among others, links to Industry Sector Intelligence with statistics, market intelligence and business resources for each industry sector, including regulations, industry profiles, etc., Financial Performance Data, which has aggregated industry-specific income statement and balance sheet data for small and medium-sized businesses showing the profitability of each industry, and Trade Data Online a database of statistics on Canada's trade with over 200 countries. (It can be searched by industry to show top trading partners), and under Labour Market Data,  the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS) which shows the projected supply and demand for occupations in all industries in Canada. See “Industrial Summaries”, and “Browse Documentation", then industrial and macroeconomic scenarios for the analyses behind the projections.

Other industry profiles and reports may be found on government department websites related to your industry (e.g. Agriculture & Agrifood Canada for food industries). You can search across all federal government websites by using the search engine at the Canada.ca website, or use the site limiter in Google: E.g. "aquaculture industry" site:canada.ca  (Note: Canadian federal government department websites have been transitioning from canada.gc.ca to  canada.ca since 2011/12. Searching site:gc.ca may find additional sources, especially from federal agencies and other non-departmental government bodies.)


Statistics Canada.
The official source for most Canadian business statistics. Search the site by keyword or browse by subject. The website includes thousands of time series of socio-economic and industry data. Data tables can be manipulated. There are also analytical publications that expand on industry data.

Keyword Search Tips: Default is AND for multiple terms; use quotation marks for a phrase; Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT must be capitalized; truncate with *

CANSIM tables have been replaced with data tables; searches by CANSIM number are still possible. 

Statistics Canada is also the official source for the most reliable demographic, and a variety of social statistics useful for consumer analysis. The Census of Population is the most well-known, but many large surveys done regularly or intermittently (e.g. Survey of Household Spending, General Social Survey, etc.) provide useful information on socio-economic trends. Where data are not available online, they may be accessible through the Data Liberation Initiative. Details on the library's Government Information Subject Guide.


Industry Classification Codes:

You can use these codes to search for industry information in article databases, government databases, and other business reference tools. Reading the detailed definitions can be useful for understanding the scope of an industry. 

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Canada 2017 Version 3.0.  Statistics Canada.
Designed to provide common definitions of the industrial structure of the three NAFTA countries (Canada, U.S., Mexico) to facilitate collecting, analyzing, and comparing data on industries, and to understand trends in the economy. (Updated every 5 years.)  PDF Version.

The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) was replaced by NAICS but is still used in some databases and reference sources, especially in the U.S.


Article/News Sources:

Articles published in business magazines, newspapers, academic journals, trade and professional journals, will provide important insights into current issues affecting companies and industries. Recommended business and news article databases for this assignment (Access from A-Z List of Databases):

ProQuest(Central):  Use for maximum Canadian content. Includes ABI/INFORM Collection, CBCA (Canadian Business and Current Affairs), Newsstream databases, etc. These and other Canadian and international business and news databases can be searched together or separately. Searching each database separately provides the most specific search fields. For example, selecting the ProQuest Business databases as a group allows searching by NAICS. (From within a ProQuest database, click on the "Change databases" tab, then "View by Subject" -- "Business". Expand the business category to select individual databases, or click on "Search Business Subject Area" to search all together. Enter 4-digit codes followed by an asterisk. E.g. 4511*) Searching the ABI/INFORM Collection database alone provides additional fields such as classification code, company type, etc.

Business Source Premier:  Includes hundreds of business, trade and academic journals, and a variety of other sources. Searchable by NAICS as well as industry as subject. (For a NAICS search, select your code from the list or enter 4-digit codes with an asterisk. E.g. 4511*)

Nexis Uni:  Includes many kinds of global business, news, and legal sources as well as several specialized reference tools. Select "Advanced Search" to see all search options and tips.

Database Search Tips: Each of these databases contain thousands of business news sources, trade and academic journals, magazines, and other sources with current information about companies, industries, and the issues that affect them. Search for the industry using words, not just NAICS (e.g. “pharmaceutical industry”). View results limited by source type. Sort by date to see the latest information first. Narrow down a too large result list with additional keywords or subject terms for articles on specific aspects or factors needed (e.g. growth, trends, forecast, outlook, etc.) Use the database's thesaurus, where available, to find controlled vocabulary subject terms and alternate search terms; use quotation marks for a phrase; use Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT to combine keywords.  If you have trouble searching databases, please ask for assistance at the Research Help Desk, or contact the Commerce Librarian.

Evaluation Tips: Be wary of misinformation and bias in commentaries, editorials, and guest columns published in news sources, and articles found using Google searches. Check the author's credentials and their affiliation. Google the person/organization to see what their other posts are like and to see what others, especially investigative reporters, say about them. Search the sourcewatch.org  website. SourceWatch "profiles the activities of front groups, PR spinners, industry-friendly experts, industry-funded organizations, and think tanks trying to manipulate public opinion on behalf of corporations or government."  Your analysis should be based on facts, not opinions.

Learn to recognize "article marketing"; an issue mostly with free online news sources. See: "25 Unique Native Advertising Examples -- and How to Spot Them (2019 Update)" from the MediaRadar blog.

To Find a Specific Article:  Use Journal Finder (3rd "Quick Link" on the library homepage). Enter the journal, magazine or newspaper title to see links to databases that contain the full-text articles. 


Library Catalogue:

Academic and other books on companies, industries, and related topics are mostly located on the 2nd floor of the library. The library also subscribes and links to many ebooks. The most efficient way to find books on your topic is to search the Novanet Library Catalogue, the first 'Quick Link' on the MTA Library Website.

SEARCH TIPS:

On the  Library Homepage select "Novanet" from the Quick Links, or "Novanet Advanced Search"  from the centre of the page.

Change the search scope from "Everything" to "Novanet Catalogue". Your results will include books from all libraries in the Novanet consortium. You can limit the results to just Mount Allison books or request books from the other member libraries if needed.

Search tip:  Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT must be capitalized.

More Novanet Search Tips


Global Information Sources:

Statista.  A database accessible from the A-Z List of Databases. Compiles market research, consumer and industry reports and statistics from Canada and around the world from mostly publicly available sources such as trade organizations, governments, scientific publications, market researchers, etc. Statistics are provided in easy to download graphs and charts with links to sources.

globalEDGE Insights by Industry. Michigan State University, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
Provides a brief introduction, background with trends, outlook, etc. on twenty industry sectors, with links to sources for further information.

Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries. HD 2324 .E528 2011 Ref., 2017 Edition online in Gale Virtual Reference Library. 
Provides detailed profiles of new industries and established industries and business segments that are introducing new technologies or implementing new strategies.  (U.S. focus.)

Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Strategies. Vol 4, 2019 online in Gale Virtual Reference Library.
Essays describing the strategic marketing framework of marketing strategies used by top global and emerging brands.

Market Share Reporter. HF 5410 .M35 2015 (2 vols) Ref., 2017 Edition online in Gale Virtual Reference Library
and Business Rankings Annual.  HG 4050 .B88 Ref.
These are annual compilations of reported market share and rankings data on companies, products, services and industries. Both include some international coverage. (Update the information found by searching the sources cited under each entry.)

IEA Policies & Measures Databases. International Energy Agency databases show thousands of government policies and measures taken or planned, in over 100 countries, for supporting the deployment of renewable energies, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency, and addressing climate change.

Society at a Glance. OECD biennial that provides an overview of social indicators for the 36 member countries of the OECD.

See also:

Major compilations of statistics (industrial, demographic, social, economic, etc.) adjusted for comparability, are available online from: OECD, UN, World Bank, and other international organizations.


Other Guides:

“Marketing Hits”: Organizes Canadian sources by use for: Competitive Analysis, Corporate Analysis, and Consumer Analysis. (Caution: Some broken links; updating in progress.)

Commerce Subject Guide and Economics Subject Guide include more international business and trade related links.


Citing sources and Research Help:

Short citation guides, for APA style primarily, are linked to on the Commerce Subject Guide -- Citation & Writing Guides page.

The Simon Fraser University Library guides have many relevant examples the general guides do not. See: "Citing Business Sources: APA (6th ed.) Citation Guide" and "Citing Canadian Government Documents, APA Style" (includes also details on citing tables and graphs).  .

For assistance with citing and research please contact the Research Help Desk, or the Commerce Subject Librarian

 

This guide is available on the Mount Allison University Commerce Subject Guide

Last updated: 4 Sept. 2019

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Anita Cannon
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