Auster, Ethel and Chun Wei Choo. 1991. Environmental Scanning: A Conceptual Framework for Studying the Information Seeking Behavior of Executives. In Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science held in Washington, DC, October 27-31 1991, edited by Jose-Marie Griffiths, 3-8. Medford, NJ: Learned Information, Inc. [PDF]


The paper presents preliminary findings from a study on how chief executives of business organizations acquire and use information about the external environment. The study addresses three questions:

    1 What information do chief executives need to have concerning the external environment?

    2 How do chief executives acquire information about the external environment?

    3 How do chief executives make use of information gained from scanning the environment?

The study attempts to bridge two streams of research: management theory (study of managerial behavior), and information science (study of information seeking and use). While the informational role of managers is emphasized in the literature, there is a lack of knowledge about how managers acquire and use information. The study looks at managerial information behavior in scanning the business environment and introduces an information science perspective that highlights information needs, information seeking, and information use.

The study analyzes and presents preliminary data collected by a questionnaire survey of chief executive officers in the Canadian telecommunication industry. The data analysis explores the effect on environmental scanning of variables such as the executives' perceptions of environmental uncertainty, and their perceptions of the accessibility and quality of various information sources. It also explores the use of environmental information by executives in a number of categories of decision making activities.