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Business Research - PEST Analysis

Suggested workflow for researching a PEST Analysis

Conducting research on the business and regulatory environment for a PEST analysis requires the consultation of a range of resources in order to build a comprehensive overview of the chosen industry.

This library guide provides an overview of available resources from a combination of online sources and specialist library databases grouped under PEST analysis headings.

Grouped below are a broad range of resources including library databases, government and corporate websites that provide industry, regulatory & economic information. Note that certain resources provide information on a range of areas for example the OECD not only provides global economic reporting but also documents the effects of regulation on industry and world economy. 

Further guidance is provided on the additional pages for specific types of information sources as well as a reference materials in the form of dictionary and encyclopedias to assist with defining  business and economics terms and terminology.

Extra support on the process of finding information is available via Study Smart where you will find modules on locating and evaluating information. All information you use in your PEST analysis needs to referenced according to CiteWrite with additional instruction on Study Smart.  The library provides a range of support channels including workshops on researching & referencing.

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Political  Economic  |  Social   | Technology |


Australian State & Federal Government websites are all active publishers of information and therefore relevant sources for information to incorporate in your PEST Analysis. Parliaments or legislatures, ministries or agencies are typically responsible for regulating activity related to business, between businesses and between the various government entities and businesses. Both state and federal governments are responsible for producing and administering law and regulation that govern sales, marketing, transportation regulation, employment conditions, employee safety, operating licenses and codes or practise for the Agriculture industry. Government at both the federal and the state level may fund industry organisations who consult with the industry at large and as a consequence produce positioning statements and other advocacy and initiatives. Research and development is conducted by joint-funded Research Development Corporations alongside long established scientific research organisations such as the CSIRO.

  • Investigating the industry regulatory and policy requires locating government information by searching through governmental websites (see below).
  • Note that useful information can be in many forms: policy, regulation, government initiatives, government spending, committees and associated reports to name a few of the types of information required to develop a picture of the political context within which an industry operates.
  • More than one source may be required to build a detailed understanding.
See more guidance on the page, "Finding Government Information & Publications" in addition to the resources provided on this page.

  • Policy Commons [DATABASE TRIAL UNTIL October 1st 2021 - Friday of Mid-Semester Break]  Policy Commons is a one-stop community platform for objective, fact-based research from the world’s leading policy experts, nonpartisan think tanks, IGOs and NGOs. This resource is an excellent resource for gauging global policy and regulatory information for A2. The most effective use of this resource involves three search facilities: see Topics for an alphabetical index of key terms and subjects, use the advanced search facility available.
  • FAO - The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation is the United Nations specialized agency entrusted with the promotion of sustainable agriculture and food security. See also the UNFAO portal for global agriculture statistics and resources.
  • Department of Agriculture & Fisheries - (Queensland Government) - On this state-based website both policy, research and commercialisation initiatives are detailed. Specific information on R&D efforts is provided as well as higher-level planning documents
  • Analysis & Policy Observatory | APO -  APO aggregates policy, reports and publications from across the public sector. The information on this website might also highlight policy recommendations or social research. This resource is particular useful for supplemental policy commentary and research with many publications combining quantitative (numerical) and qualitative (focus groups/questionaire) data.
  • Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (Australian Government) -  DFAT is responsible for foreign policy and relations, trade and investment (via Austrade). The DFAT website provides an overview of  current foreign trade agreements.
  • Productivity Commission - The Productivity Commission is the Australian Government's principal review and advisory body on microeconomic policy, regulation and a range of other social and environmental issues. The Productivity Commission is affiliated with the Treasury and provides the Government advice on microeconomic policy. For the purposes of a PEST analysis the Productivity Commission website will provide reports and research on the agricultural sector that include the size of the workforce, industry structure and geographic composition. Prior public inquiries include a 2017 initiative to gauge the regulatory burden on the sector.  Be wary of the currency of the information and consider the information as ripe for further research on associated topics in other sources. The search facility on this website provide useful categories to filter results according to: regulation, policy, competition and many other areas of PC activity.
  • The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications - Infrastructure is a current going concern at the moment due the current prevailing economic conditions surrounding COVID-19 and particular industry sectors such as Agriculture that rely upon infrastructure as a background enabling investment. The Australian government has announced certain interventions to support Australia's national carrier amongst other stimulus inputs into the sector as a whole. See also the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics for transport data as inputs for analysis.
  • Australian Government -  Provides access to Australian Government publications and information. This will take the form of budget statements, committee documents and other parliamentary materials. Consider this as an ancillary source to more conventional types of business reports, the information obtained may only be useful if you have sufficient context around the process from which it is generated and may require additional consideration in light of other information you already have.
  • Australian Public Affairs Fulltext (APAFT) (via Informit) QUT Library Database -  This resource is a library database. APAFT consists of aggregated content that consists primarily of editorials, opinion pieces, essays and other articles from Australian magazines and professional journals covering political, economic, legal, social and cultural affairs. Use the search tool provided in the database to retrieve information: be mindful of the date when the information was published, consider the type of information returned from your searches, formulating keywords and combinations of keywords to use in the search tool will be vital to usable results for your analysis.
  • - is the central source of Australian open government data. Anyone can access the anonymised public data published by federal, state and local government agencies.In addition to government data, you can also find publicly-funded research data and datasets from private institutions that are in the public interest. The site has over 30,000 publicly available datasets from a range of departments and agencies.
  • Ministerial Websites - Though the information on ministerial websites will be largely announcements, media releases and records of appearances and interviews, ministerial websites can provide clues and cues as to policy direction and initiatives. The information on these sites would not form the most important information for your analysis - consider this variety of source as supplemental or incidental information. The primary communications of policy and stimulus measures are often via ministerial media releases. Queensland ministerial websites will also feature similar announcements.



  • Australian Bureau of Statistics - Australia’s national statistical agency. Look for thematic or topical surveys by searching the website. See this entry point for agriculture, data on agricultural commoditiesfurther to the search facility provided to identify specific sectors, products and services.  Labour statistics are available at occupation level via quarterly reports - search for these by name on the ABS site for more information on employment data reporting see here.
  • EIU Country Data + EIU Viewpoint (QUT Library Databases) - See, "Business Environment" overview for countries and industries. Macro-economic forecasts indicators for Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and all other locales are available with rich description to provide context.
  • Reserve Bank of Australia - the RBA website has a range of pages which provide statistical summaries as snapshots. 
  • QLD Government Publications & Data - Go to the central source - both data and publications across a variety of sites will be available through this website.
  • Department of the Treasury (Australian Government) - The Treasury is the Australian Government ministerial department responsible for economic policy, fiscal policy, market regulation, and the Australian federal budget. The treasury website hosts information on and for business and industry alongside submissions from various industry and business stakeholders in the lead up to each budget.
  • CEDA - Formed in 1960 by one of Australia's foremost economists, Sir Douglas Copland, CEDA's purpose is harness the ideas and influence of leading thinkers from business, government, community and academia. Start with the pages providing research and policy - these will be most useful in defining current and future economic directions. Look for the CEDA series, "Economic & Political Outlook".
  • IMF Primary Commodity Prices - 49 price data series from the International Monetary Fund. Monthly data is available from 1980 onwards. See list of reference data available.
  • World Resources Institute - WRI’s mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations. 
  • OECD iLibrary - OECD features eBooks, articles, working papers, reports, and statistics. Note this resource is a subscribed service and requires you to login with your QUT login credentials.
  • OECD Data - provides many statistical series based on topic. See this link for available snapshot data on agriculture.

  • OECD - facilitates discovery of publications and data by country and topic. Start early with this source as there may be some investment of time required to orient yourself to the available tools and publications on the website. Look for forecast report series such as 'OECD FAO Agricultural Outlook', this series provides information for specific agricultural sectors and various sub-regions with snapshots of individual countries.
  • Worldbank Data - The Worldbank hosts excellent wayfinding guides for data and indicators. Web portlets inside the site provide indicators for 'soft commodities' that are inputs for food and agricultural feed production. Look at the well established series, Doing Business, that provides reporting on the ease of doing business across the lifespan of enterprises and initiaitives.

  • World Trade Organization Tariff Download Facility - simpler version of the available WTO Tariff databases. The User Guide is very helpful for understanding data provided. Coverage circa 1996-present.
  • Business Council of Australia - An industry organisation representing Australia’s largest employers, advocating for policy on behalf of the business community and Australians employed by business enterprises.
  • ABI/INFORM collection (via ProQuest) QUT Library Database - Key database for business, economics and information systems providing access to journal articles, working papers, business and industry news plus country and industry focused reports
Analyst reports - focused searches across the 'Big 4' professional services firms websites are an excellent way to gauge industry directions, regional capacity building and regulatory effects.

Be purposeful with your searching - use the available filters in the particular search engine you use to conduct specific, focused searches. Consult the section titled 'Query Modifiers' on this site here. Incorporate a number of these search techniques either to specify the website from which the information is to be retrieved and what type of file format is typically associated with research reports (PDF,DOC,PPT)

For example, searching for reports by filetype (PDF/DOC/PPT) and by website URL ('', '', '', '') is an efficient way to mine a full website for available documents. Note that these professional services firms will also have regional offices so searching directly on the corresponding website for Australia or the Asia-Pacific region will render reports for local markets.
Deloitte Access Economics   KPMG Ernst &Young PWC
Deloitte reports cover a broad range of industries including agriculture. Far more information is available on the website than might be apparent via the Deloitte search box - be sure to use a web search engine to conduct a focused search on the website. KPMG supplies an extensive range of publicly available reports alongside a well developed search facility. Consider associated information that might be contained in other reports outside of the industry under investigation - information about travel and leisure as well as the prevailing global conditions make much information provided on this site relevant for inclusion into your analysis. A shorter selection of publicly available resources are available via the Australia EY portal, however, a broader range of reports on local business conditions make Ernst & Young a worthy source of information for your analysis. A targeted web search is far more effective that the search facility on this corporate website - see here. Focused web-based research targeting specific reputable sources, still requires the formulation of relevant terms including alternatives in the form of synonyms. PWC features podcasts as part of publicly available media on future trends and topics that effect a range of industries.


  • Passport (QUT Library Database) - A market research database with reports and data on industries, economies and consumers internationally. Published by Euromonitor International. An excellent source of trend data for price, consumption and trade data for a variety of industries.
  • MarketLine (QUT Library Database) - Public company, industry and country information extending across over 200 countries and every major industry sector. PESTLE analyses are available under Analysis - Countries & Cities - Country Profiles.
  • IBISWorld (QUT Library Database)  - Key statistics and analysis on market characteristics, operating conditions, current and historical performance, a five-year forecast and major industry participants. Industry level reports are available for farming and agriculture.
  • Factiva (QUT Library Database) - Australian and international newspapers and journals plus global company information. Extensive company information is provided, including financial data for more than 42,500 worldwide companies (from Reuters Investor) as well as access to historical market data and interactive charting. Tip: filter your search upon subject and publication - targeting national newspapers for more in depth commentary and analysis. More guidance available via the QUT Library.


  • Queensland Statisticians Office - Gauge local population and demographic trends. Interrogate the website for other indicators relevant to the business environment in QLD.
  • World Values Survey - Start at the linked page and follow the website cues for Australia. The linked data files are in Excel format, however, the accompanying documentation on methodology and the administered questionnaire will be vital to unpack the data.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics - Australia’s national statistical agency.The ABS provide a wide array of social data. Look for thematic or topical surveys by searching the website.
  • Informit - QUT Library Database - Australian journals and magazines covering areas including business, engineering, science and health plus humanities and education as well as extensive coverage of Indigenous affairs. Take a look at TVNews for recordings of video news reportage as a way to look for policy announcements, government press conferences - To search just this collection: enter your search terms and then choose TVNews from the Products filter in the database this directs your search towards videos in the TVNews collection under this database.
  • McCrindle - Commercial social research with a business and markets research. Reports from McCrindle will typically pair approaches to developing marketing and communications by scanning the business environment in certain sectors. McCrindle often publishes content under other website domains other than its own domain. As a usable example of this take a look at this website: alongside media material on the McCrindle Insight blog.


  • Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment (Australian Government) - This federal department website has a wealth of resources including commissioned consultant reports 

  • Rural Development Corporations - Primarily R&D focused joint initiatives between government and industry bodies.

  • CSIRO - A federally funded scientific research body focused on the development and commercialisation of new technologies. The organisation attempts to publicise much scientific activity to articulate benefits for producer, market and consumer. See the compiled list of data sources available via the CSIRO's research services here.

  • Agriculture Institute of Australia - Ag Institute Australia (the trading name of The Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology) is committed to promoting the advancement of Australian Agriculture and Natural Resource Management in accord with sound scientific developments and represents professionals involved in these areas.

  •  Arifutures - A research and development organisation that focuses on the future of Australian agriculture.

  •  Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre - AEGIC supports the trade and use of Australian grains around the world through cutting-edge grain quality and processing technology and market research innovation.

  • World Economic Forum - Start by searching for reports on agriculture. The reports provided on the website will tend focus on broader issues or topics and so may be used to gauge industry directions and trends globally.
  • IBISWorld - QUT Library Database - Key statistics and analysis on market characteristics, operating conditions, current and historical performance, a five-year forecast and major industry participants. Industry level reports are available for agriculture as well as specific sectors of the industry. Take note of the sector drivers and disruptors within the reports themselves - these may appear as smaller sections of information, however, the factors identified in the report will prove invaluable for keywords or terms to use in follow-up searches particularly in conventional library sources: books and journal articles.
  • Economics Working Papers - Working Papers in economics are pre-publication versions of technical papers, academic articles, book chapters, or reviews. Authors may release working papers to share ideas or to receive feedback on their work.
  • Subject-specific journals (Agriculture) - articles located on AGECON will include research on the effectiveness of new production technology. Use the linked search engine to locate articles then follow up with the QUT Library search to locate any fulltext information missing from AGECON. Choose a specific title and search with synonyms associated with the term, 'technology' or other topics related to the PEST framework - there may not be a singular term that returns all possible viable articles you may need to search using a variety of terms. Consult the Journals page on this libguide here to see a curated list of journals from which you can retrieve articles.
  • Books - Start from a collection of quality curated materials available from the library. This form of information might be used as a type of reference material from issue focused editions to broader focused titles, another good reason to use the library search is to follow-up on topics in the form of keywords from reports and information you may have retrieved from prior searches.
  • Google Scholar -  Google indexes a considerable volume of scholarly material in a similar manner to the QUT Library search. Access to the material often requires following up with QUT Library Search to access the fulltext of the items you have found or alternatively connecting Scholar to the QUT LibraryUsing the large search infrastructure of Alphabet it is very easy to locate relevant academic information. The suitability of the results will depend on your search strategy so be sure to consider the key terms and phrases you are using.