Auster, Ethel and Chun Wei Choo. 1992. Environmental Scanning: Preliminary Findings of a Survey of CEO Information Seeking Behavior in Two Canadian Industries. In Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science held in Pittsburgh, PA, October 26-29, 1992, edited by Debora Shaw, 48 - 54. Medford, NJ: Learned Information, Inc. [PDF]


Today's business organizations thrive in turbulent environments characterized by rapid changes in the competition, technology, and economic and social conditions. Environmental scanning is the activity of gaining information about events and relationships in the organization's environment, the knowledge of which would assist management in planning future courses of action.

This paper reports the preliminary findings of a survey of the environmental scanning behavior of 207 CEOs in two Canadian industries - publishing and telecommunications. The CEOs indicated which sources they used to learn about trends and events in the business environment, and their perceptions of the accessibility and quality of various information sources. The survey found that the CEOs use a variety of internal and external, as well as personal and impersonal sources to scan their business environment. The sources used most frequently are newspapers and periodicals, subordinate managers and staff, broadcast media, customers, and internal documents. Analysis shows that between perceived source accessibility and quality, source quality is the more important explanatory variable, in that it accounts for a greater portion of the variance in the frequency of using sources to scan. This is contrary to earlier user studies, particularly those of engineers and scientists, which concluded that perceived source accessibility was the overwhelming factor in source selection.