A Comprehensive Guide to SPACE Analysis for Strategic Planning

Updated on: 06 June 2024 | 9 min read
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In today’s fast-paced business world, strategic planning is essential for long-term success. It involves setting goals, using resources wisely, and making smart decisions to guide the organization. One valuable tool for this is SPACE Analysis. This method helps businesses understand their strategic position by looking at internal and external factors, offering a clear path for future actions. This guide will explain SPACE Analysis in detail, including its parts, how to use it, and how it helps in planning strategies for success.

What is the SPACE Analysis

SPACE Analysis, short for Strategic Position and Action Evaluation, is a strategic management tool used by businesses to assess their current strategic position and determine appropriate strategic actions. It helps organizations understand their competitive position within their industry and make informed decisions about future strategies.

The analysis involves evaluating internal factors such as financial strength and competitive advantage, as well as external factors like industry attractiveness and environmental stability. By plotting these factors on a visual matrix, known as the SPACE Matrix, businesses can identify their strategic position and choose the most suitable strategic actions, whether aggressive, conservative, defensive, or competitive.

Overall, SPACE Analysis provides a structured approach to Strategic Planning, aiding organizations in making well-informed decisions to achieve their long-term goals.

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Components of SPACE Analysis

SPACE Analysis: The External Environment

The external environment in SPACE Analysis focuses on factors outside the organization that can impact its strategic position. These factors are assessed through the dimensions of Industry Strength (IS) and Environmental Stability (ES).

Industry Strength (IS)

Industry Strength evaluates the attractiveness and potential growth of the industry in which the company operates. Key factors to consider include:

  • Market growth rate: The rate at which the market is expanding, indicating potential for new opportunities.
  • Industry profitability: Overall profitability of the industry, which affects all players within it.
  • Demand variability: Stability and predictability of demand for the industry’s products or services.
  • Competitive intensity: Level of competition within the industry, which can impact market share and profitability.
  • Barriers to entry: Ease or difficulty for new competitors to enter the market.
  • Technological change: Rate of technological advancement and its impact on the industry.

Environmental Stability (ES)

Environmental Stability assesses the stability and predictability of the external environment. Factors to consider include:

  • Economic conditions: General economic climate, including factors like inflation, unemployment, and economic growth.
  • Political stability: Stability of the political environment, including government policies, regulations, and political risk.
  • Regulatory environment: Impact of laws and regulations on the industry and business operations.
  • Technological trends: Impact of emerging technologies and innovation on the industry.
  • Social and cultural trends: Changes in societal attitudes, demographics, and cultural factors that can affect demand.
  • Environmental factors: Ecological and environmental considerations, including sustainability and climate change impacts.

SPACE Analysis: The Internal Environment

The internal environment in SPACE Analysis focuses on factors within the organization that can influence its strategic position. These factors are assessed through the dimensions of Financial Strength (FS) and Competitive Advantage (CA).

Financial Strength (FS)

Financial Strength evaluates the financial health and resources of the organization. Key factors to consider include:

  • Profitability: Measures such as return on investment (ROI) and return on assets (ROA).
  • Leverage: Debt-to-equity ratio and the company’s ability to manage and repay its debt.
  • Liquidity: Current ratio, quick ratio, and the organization’s ability to meet short-term obligations.
  • Cash flow: Cash inflows and outflows, indicating financial stability and operational efficiency.
  • Cost of capital: The cost of financing the company’s operations and growth.

Competitive Advantage (CA)

Competitive Advantage assesses the company’s ability to compete effectively in the market. Factors to consider include:

  • Market share: The company’s share of the market compared to its competitors.
  • Product quality: Perceived quality and reliability of the company’s products or services.
  • Customer loyalty: Strength of customer relationships and repeat business.
  • Brand strength: Recognition and reputation of the company’s brand.
  • Technological know-how: The company’s expertise and capability in technology and innovation.
  • Marketing effectiveness: The effectiveness of the company’s marketing strategies and campaigns.

4 Positions of the SPACE Analysis

​​The SPACE Analysis framework categorizes strategic postures into four main types based on a company’s position in the SPACE Matrix. These postures are:

  • Aggressive: Companies in an aggressive posture have strong financial strength (FS) and operate in industries with high growth potential (IS). They are well-positioned to pursue expansion and growth strategies aggressively. These organizations often invest heavily in research and development, market expansion, and innovation to capitalize on opportunities and gain a competitive advantage.
  • Conservative: Conservative postures are characterized by strong financial strength (FS) and a stable external environment (ES). Companies in this posture prioritize stability, efficiency, and risk avoidance. They focus on optimizing their existing resources, maintaining a strong financial position, and improving operational efficiency rather than pursuing aggressive growth strategies.
  • Defensive: Companies in a defensive posture typically have a strong competitive advantage (CA) but face challenges in their external environment (ES), such as economic downturns or market saturation. In response, these organizations adopt defensive strategies aimed at protecting their market share, reducing costs, and strengthening customer loyalty. They may focus on product differentiation, cost-cutting measures, or diversification to mitigate risks and maintain their competitive position.
  • Competitive: Competitive postures are characterized by strong competitive advantage (CA) and favorable industry conditions (IS). Companies in this posture are well-positioned to compete effectively in their industries and pursue strategies aimed at increasing market share, expanding their product offerings, and enhancing customer satisfaction. They continuously innovate, invest in marketing and branding, and seek opportunities to outperform competitors and capture market opportunities.

The SPACE Matrix

SPACE Matrix Example for SPACE Analysis
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Structure of the SPACE Matrix

The SPACE Matrix is a visual tool that plots a company’s scores on two axes:

Horizontal Axis: Represents Financial Strength (FS) on the positive side and Competitive Advantage (CA) on the negative side.

Vertical Axis: Represents Industry Strength (IS) on the positive side and Environmental Stability (ES) on the negative side.

The intersection of these scores determines the company’s strategic position within one of the four quadrants.

Axes and Dimensions

Horizontal Axis: Reflects the internal factors of the company. A high FS score indicates a strong financial position, while a high CA score indicates significant competitive advantages.

Vertical Axis: Reflects the external factors. A high IS score indicates a favorable industry environment, while a high ES score suggests a stable external environment.

How to Conduct a SPACE Analysis

Conducting a SPACE Analysis involves several systematic steps to evaluate a company’s strategic position and determine the appropriate strategic actions. Here’s how to performing a SPACE Analysis:

Step 1: Identify relevant factors

Financial Strength (FS)

  • Profitability (return on investment, return on assets)
  • Leverage (debt-to-equity ratio)
  • Liquidity (current ratio, quick ratio)
  • Cash flow
  • Cost of capital

Competitive Advantage (CA)

  • Market share
  • Product quality
  • Customer loyalty
  • Brand strength
  • Technological know-how
  • Marketing effectiveness

Industry Strength (IS)

  • Market growth rate
  • Industry profitability
  • Demand variability
  • Competitive intensity
  • Barriers to entry
  • Technological change

Environmental Stability (ES):

  • Economic conditions
  • Political stability
  • Regulatory environment
  • Technological trends
  • Social and cultural trends

Step 2: Assign scores and ratings

Rate each factor on a scale, typically from +1 to +6 for positive dimensions (FS, IS) and -1 to -6 for negative dimensions (CA, ES). The scale can be adjusted based on the specific needs of the analysis.

Step 3: Calculate average scores

For each dimension (FS, CA, IS, ES):

  • Sum the ratings of all factors within each dimension.
  • Calculate the average score by dividing the total score by the number of factors considered.

Step 4: Plot the scores on the SPACE Matrix

The SPACE Matrix is a two-dimensional graph with the following axes:

  • Horizontal Axis: Financial Strength (FS) on the positive side and Competitive Advantage (CA) on the negative side.
  • Vertical Axis: Industry Strength (IS) on the positive side and Environmental Stability (ES) on the negative side.

Plot the averaged scores for each dimension on the corresponding axis.

SPACE Matrix for SPACE Analysis
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Step 5: Determine strategic posture

Identify the quadrant where the plotted point falls to determine the strategic posture:

  • Aggressive (FS and IS): High FS and high IS
  • Conservative (FS and ES): High FS and high ES
  • Defensive (CA and ES): High CA and high ES
  • Competitive (CA and IS): High CA and high IS

Step 6: Develop strategic recommendations

Based on the strategic posture identified, develop specific strategies:

  • Aggressive strategy: Pursue growth through market expansion, product development, and increased investment in innovation.
  • Conservative strategy: Focus on maintaining stability, optimizing operations, and improving efficiency.
  • Defensive strategy: Protect market share, reduce costs, enhance customer loyalty, and improve product differentiation.
  • Competitive strategy: Strengthen competitive position through differentiation, marketing, and enhancing customer value.

Step 7: Implement and monitor

Implement the recommended strategies and continuously monitor performance. Adjust the strategies as needed based on changing internal and external conditions to ensure ongoing alignment with the company’s strategic goals.


  • Identify factors: Assess factors like profitability, market share, economic conditions, and industry growth rate.
  • Assign scores: Rate profitability +5, market share -4, economic conditions -3, industry growth rate +4.
  • Calculate averages: FS = +5, CA = -4, ES = -3, IS = +4.
  • Plot scores: FS (+5) and CA (-4) on the horizontal axis, IS (+4) and ES (-3) on the vertical axis.
  • Determine posture: Point falls in the aggressive quadrant.
  • Develop strategy: Recommend market expansion and increased innovation.
  • Implement and monitor: Launch new products, enter new markets, and track performance regularly.

Integrating SPACE Analysis with Other Strategic Tools

Integrating SPACE Analysis with other strategic tools like SWOT, PESTLE, Porter’s Five Forces, the BCG Matrix, and the Balanced Scorecard offers a comprehensive approach to strategic planning.

  • SWOT analysis identifies internal strengths and weaknesses along with external opportunities and threats, which can refine SPACE scores.
  • PESTLE analysis helps evaluate Environmental Stability (ES) and Industry Strength (IS) by examining broader macro-environmental factors.
  • Porter’s Five Forces analysis adjusts IS and Competitive Advantage (CA) scores by assessing industry competition.
  • The BCG Matrix categorizes products or business units, informing Financial Strength (FS) and IS scores.
  • The Balanced Scorecard measures performance across various areas, fine-tuning FS and CA scores.

This integrated approach ensures a thorough understanding of the strategic position, supporting more informed and effective decision-making.


Summary of Key Points

  • SPACE Analysis is a valuable tool for understanding a company’s strategic position.
  • The analysis involves evaluating financial strength, competitive advantage, industry strength, and environmental stability.
  • The resulting SPACE Matrix helps determine the appropriate strategic actions.

Adopting SPACE Analysis can significantly improve strategic planning by providing a clear and comprehensive view of the strategic environment. By integrating it with other strategic tools, businesses can develop robust and effective strategies to achieve long-term success.

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Amanda Athuraliya Communications Specialist

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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