Purpose – Macro-environmental scanning is a first step in strategic planning, which is essential in an emerging industry such as liquid biofuels. The purpose of this paper is to identify the dimensions within which the governments of Brazil, the USA and Germany have constructed the macro-environment for liquid biofuels over time and to test for similarities between the governments’ constructs. Design/methodology/approach – Documentary research was carried out on official public policies and program documents on the topic of liquid biofuels, covering a ten-year period from 1997 to 2006. The database consisted of 624 documents from the Brazilian government, 854 from the American government and 168 documents from the German government. Text mining was used to extract information from the texts by applying a specific analysis structure that was built on macro-environmental dimensions as expressed by their respective dimensional words “d-words”. The “d-words” were selected based on their usage frequency in the knowledge fields related to each dimension. Findings – The results indicate that the macro-environments for liquid biofuels, as configured by the governments under analysis, differ systematically and over time in their emphasis of specific macro-environmental dimensions. Originality/value – There are two primary aspects of this study which are original and valuable: the application of text-mining techniques as a tool for strategic planning and the development of a particular tool to extract knowledge from text documents and to categorize them according to their macro-environmental dimensions.