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The business environment is increasingly becoming uncertain and complex. Environmental scanning is a systematic way for organizations to detect changes, and hence formulate adaptive strategies for coping with uncertainties. Information literacy skills are required to conduct effective and efficient environmental scanning activities as it is an information intensive process. Moreover, the development of information technology and telecommunication provides various channels and applications for accessing, processing and distributing information, which also proposes higher requirements of information literacy skills for dealing with environmental information. However, despite the number of studies undertaken to investigate the role of information literacy at the workplace, few have integrated information literacy skills with a specific business management activity or have tried to evaluate the impact of information literacy on real business applications. This paper provides an overview of environmental scanning and information literacy skills. A refined model, showing the relationship between environmental uncertainty, information literacy skills and environmental scanning, is also presented.
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Environmental scanning:
An application of information
literacy skills at the workplace
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schubert Foo
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
The business environment is increasingly becoming uncertain and complex. Environmental scanning is a
systematic way for organizations to detect changes, and hence formulate adaptive strategies for coping with
uncertainties. Information literacy skills are required to conduct effective and efficient environmental scan-
ning activities as it is an information intensive process. Moreover, the development of information technology
and telecommunication provides various channels and applications for accessing, processing and distribut-
ing information, which also proposes higher requirements of information literacy skills for dealing with
environmental information. However, despite the number of studies undertaken to investigate the role of
information literacy at the workplace, few have integrated information literacy skills with a specific business
management activity or have tried to evaluate the impact of information literacy on real business applica-
tions. This paper provides an overview of environmental scanning and information literacy skills. A refined
model, showing the relationship between environmental uncertainty, information literacy skills and environ-
mental scanning, is also presented.
Keywords: environmental scanning; information literacy
1. Introduction
In recent years, the business environment has become more and more turbulent and uncertain due
to political realignments, economic crises, terrorism threats, technological innovations and natural
disasters [1]. Environmental scanning, as a systematic process to detect environmental signals and
deal with uncertainties, is becoming critical for all types of organizations to survive and remain
successful. Organizations have to closely monitor their task and remote environments, and use the
acquired environmental information to assist tactical and strategic decision making.
Environmental scanning is defined as a management process adopted by organizations to deal
with external environmental information, the products of which would assist tactical and strategic
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © The Author(s), 2010. Reprints and Permissions:, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 719
Correspondence to: Xue Zhang, WKWSCI Building, 31 Nanyang Link, Singapore 637718.
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 720
decision making [2–4]. It starts from scanning needs identification and ends at information evalua-
tion and use. The collected environmental information is filtered, interpreted and organized to
formulate insights or predictions about the external environments, and then disseminated to its end
users for evaluation and use. Environmental scanning is a typical application of information literacy
skills in the workplace, as each of its activities could only be completed effectively and efficiently
with people possessing the corresponding information literacy skills. Without proper skills to deal
with information, as well as the related technologies, people would suffer from various problems by
conducting environmental scanning, such as information overload, inability to locate and extract
relevant information and disorganization of information. Moreover, the current advancement of
information and telecommunication technology has facilitated vast improvements in developing
sophisticated infrastructures, which makes a huge amount of information available to people with
easy and flexible access, and also provides a variety of applications and channels for processing and
distributing information.
2. Literature review
2.1. Definition of environmental scanning
In the field of environmental scanning, the first notable study was carried out by Aguilar [2]. Aguilar
defines environmental scanning as acquiring information about events and relationships in a com-
pany’s outside environment, the knowledge of which would assist senior management in the task
of charting the company’s future course of action.
Subsequent studies reinforced this definition without substantially altering Aguilar’s perspective;
however, the process of environmental scanning was gradually extended and has been conceptual-
ized as an integrated information management system. For example, Lester and Waters [3] define
environmental scanning as a management process of using information from the environment to aid
decision making through the process of obtaining, analysing and using information. Based on the
foundation of Aaker [5], Costa [6] proposes a strategic information scanning system consisting of six
steps: Steps 1 and 2 specify information needs and sources; Steps 3 and 4 identify the participants
of the system and assign them scanning tasks; and Steps 5 and 6 deal with the storage, processing
and dissemination of the information. Similarly, Hough and White [7] view environmental scanning
as a process of identifying, collecting, processing and translating information about external influ-
ences into useful plans and decisions.
2.2. Definition of information literacy skills
The term ‘information literacy’ was coined by Paul Zurkowski in the 1970s [8]. Since then, the con-
cept has been mainly used by information specialists, and promulgated worldwide through the
work of the National Forum for Information Literacy and the American Library Association (ALA)
[9]. However, there is no single agreed definition of the term. Some researchers describe information
literacy as requisites to lifelong learning [10–11], while others perceive it as a natural extension of
the concept of literacy in our society [12–13]. Some have acquainted information literacy with infor-
mation technology [14], while others have used it interchangeably with library skills [15]. Todd and
colleagues [16] defined information literacy as ‘a holistic, interactive learning process encompassing
the skills of defining, locating, selecting, organizing, presenting, and evaluating information’. Goad
[17] gave a brief definition as ‘the ability to search for, find, evaluate, and use information from a
variety of sources’.
The 1989 Final Report of the American Library Association’s Presidential Committee on
Information Literacy, as a milestone in the history of information literacy research, not only recog-
nized the importance of the term, but also sought to highlight the skills of an information literate
person: to be information literate, a person must be able to recognize the need for information, to
effectively access, evaluate and creatively use it [18]. The famous ‘Big Six’ information problem
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 721
solving model raised by Eisenberg and Berkowitz [19] covers the stages as task definition, informa-
tion seeking strategies, location and access, use of information, synthesis and evaluation. Similarly,
Doyle [20] identified 10 steps required to execute an information task, which build on each other,
and formulate a total and systematic approach to being information literate. The 10 steps are:
1. recognize the need for information;
2. recognize the need for accurate and complete information;
3. formulate questions based on needs;
4. identify potential sources of information;
5. develop successful search strategies;
6. access sources including computer-based and other technology;
7. evaluate information;
8. organize information for practical application;
9. integrate new information into an existing body of knowledge;
10. use information in critical thinking and problem solving.
Based on the mainstream literature on this field, Webber and Johnston [21] pointed out that most
definitions in fact circle around these stages of information needs recognition, search formulation,
source selection, information evaluation, synthesis and use. Similarly, Kurbanoglu, Akkoyunlu and
Umay [22] concluded that information literacy incorporates the abilities to recognize when informa-
tion is needed, to initiate search strategies designed to locate the needed information, to evaluate,
synthesize and use information appropriately, ethically and legally, to communicate and share the
results of the information problem-solving efforts accurately and creatively across the range of infor-
mation formats, and to evaluate how well the final product resolved the information problem.
2.3. Information literacy at the workplace
A number of researchers have pointed out the importance of information and information literacy
skills at the workplace. Porter and Miller [23] report information as one of the most important ele-
ments in competitive advantages. Forward-looking companies take the view that information is a
strategic asset of the enterprise in much the same way as a company’s financial resources, capital
equipment and real estate, and properly employed information assets would create additional value
with a measurable return on investment, and can be leveraged into strong competitiveness [24].
Drucker [25] elaborates the need for organizations to become information literate. He suggests that
corporations need to learn to ask questions such as: What information is needed? In what form and
how to get it? Mutch [26] also points out the potential importance of information literacy skills to
business as he outlined how the concept might be employed within the business field. Information
literacy is a means of helping individuals handle the massive amount of information that pervades
their daily life [27]. Karim and Hussein [24] state that good quality information can improve deci-
sion making, enhance efficiency and allow organizations to gain competitive advantage.
Despite its importance as highlighted in the literature, information literacy, the key to informa-
tion power, has not been of great concern to the business sector. Employees tend to attend more to
the need for computer skills but not information literacy ones [28]. Nevertheless, having the ability
to handle technology does not necessarily mean that employees are information literate [29].
Negative examples were observed from various workplace contexts, such as ‘unable to determine the
nature and the extent of the information needed’, ‘unable to retrieve information effectively from the
information systems’, ‘not aware of the full range of resources available’ and so on, which may result
in increased operating costs and an inability to fully exploit valuable information sources [29–30].
2.4. Information literacy skills at each step of environmental scanning
While information literacy is not mentioned specifically in mainstream scanning literature, it is an
implicit aspect of environmental scanning, as the whole process could only be completed effectively
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 722
by people with corresponding information literacy skills. Specifically, employees should possess
information literacy skills to identify information needs and to locate the best sources to obtain
accurate and updated information. They should also have the abilities to filter, interpret and repack-
age the collected intelligence and present the information to the intended users in the right format
and in a timely manner, which is extremely valuable to the overall effectiveness of environmental
scanning and hence the success of the organization. By improving their own skills of creating,
acquiring and transferring knowledge, employees would enable their organization to modify its
behaviour according to the continuously changing external environment [31].
To elaborate the importance of information literacy skills, a six-step environmental scanning
process is proposed (Figure 1) based on Choo’s information management model [32] (Figure 2), and
the use of corresponding skills will be discussed one by one. The formal environmental scanning
process starts with clearly defined scanning needs. Organizations actively collect environmental
information through various channels and from various sources. The collected information is either
stored for future use or processed and synthesized with the existing organizational knowledge. After
filtering (removing the irrelevant part of the information), repackaging (selecting information from
different sources and merging it) or interpreting (analysing and adding organizational context and
meaning to the collected information based on understanding), the processed environmental intel-
ligence may be organized and stored in an organization knowledge repository for future utilization,
or disseminated directly to target users. Unlike Choo’s information management model, we define
environmental scanning to end at information evaluation and use, i.e. evaluating and using the col-
lected and processed external environmental information for assisting tactical and strategic decision
making. However, what strategy will be developed and what kind of adaptive behaviour would be
formulated is regarded as a strategic management issue out of the scope of this study. Moreover, the
step ‘information products/service’ is replaced with ‘information processing and synthesizing’,
which can provide a more vivid picture of the systematic scanning process.
Upon receipt, the end-users may evaluate its quality, such as timeliness, relevancy and accuracy,
and use it for assisting with tactical or strategic decision making. If an end-user’s information need
is not satisfied, a new round of acquisition, processing and distribution will occur. It is worth noting
that steps like ‘information processing and synthesizing’ and ‘information distribution’ may be
skipped due to certain factors, such as fulfilling urgent information needs (which requires immedi-
ate action), a lack of human resources, or the information collector will use the knowledge without
sharing it with others.
Fig. 1. Environmental scanning process. Adapted from [32].
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 723
2.4.1. Scanning needs identification
The first step in developing an environmental scanning strategy is to accurately appraise the needs
of information users in the organization. Understanding their needs and requirements would be a
significant step in developing information strategy and tools for providing effective information
services and promoting organization-wide creativity and innovation [24].
Theoretically, perceived environmental uncertainty will trigger the need for scanning [33–34].
Decision makers perceive uncertainty of the environment when they do not feel confident that they
understand the major events or trends happening in the external environment or when they feel
unable to accurately assign probabilities to the likelihood that particular events and/or changes will
occur [35]. Specifically, two environmental characteristics, degree of complexity and rate of change,
influence perceived environmental uncertainty [36–37]. A degree of complexity refers to the number
of external factors that are relevant to the organization [36–38], while rate of change refers to the
frequency of changes that occurs in the organization’s external environment [36–37].
Daft et al. [33] further propose that scanning is affected more when perceived environmental
uncertainty is located in strategically important sectors. They note that uncertainty by itself will not
lead to scanning behaviour, unless the external factors are perceived as important to organizational
performance. The combination of perceived environmental uncertainty and strategic importance
creates ‘perceived strategic uncertainty’ for decision makers, and is expected to generate a need for
them to conduct scanning for the selected environmental sectors [33] (Figure 3). Daft’s model also
states that, based on the perceived strategic uncertainty, executives may conduct scanning dif-
ferently in terms of frequency (frequency of collecting environmental information) and mode (use
of various information sources). This model is widely adopted in the environmental scanning
literature [34, 39–40].
In an organization, the identification of information needs begins with an analysis of tasks per-
formed by key decision makers and the environment of the organization, and key decision makers
are found to be not only at the top of the organization, but also among middle managers and tactical
employees [41]. In other words, the identification of an organization’s information needs starts from
the identification of individual information needs. To ensure that the organization’s scanning needs
are captured, individuals working in the organization must firstly be able to identify their own
information needs clearly; secondly, they must possess essential communication skills to express
those needs; finally, the ‘leader’ of the aggregation of individual information needs should be capa-
ble in information processing and synthesizing, and should conclude the organization’s overall
scanning needs.
2.4.2. Information acquisition
Information acquisition aims to satisfy the identified information needs. In previous literature, three
key issues were highlighted during this step, i.e. where to collect, how to collect, and when to stop.
‘Where to collect’ concentrates on the source of the information. Case [42] categorized these
sources as either internal (the company manager and staff) or external (printed and broadcast media).
Fig. 2. Choo’s information management model [32].
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 724
Choo [32] divided information sources into three categories: textual, online and human. Information
literate workers should realize that each kind of information source has its own advantages and dis-
advantages, and sources need to be matched with the information needs and strategic objectives as
well as their ‘accessibility’ and ‘reliability’ [43]. For example, textual sources are well suited to situ-[43]. For example, textual sources are well suited to situ-. For example, textual sources are well suited to situ-
ations when the information is structured and formal, or when the transmission accuracy of informa-
tion is highly demanding; online sources are especially useful when reasonably complete and
up-to-date information needs to be gathered swiftly; human sources tends to be preferred when deal-
ing with ambiguous, unstructured problem situations [32].
‘How to collect’ concerns the methods or techniques used for gathering information. People could
be routinely getting information through various media channels, like newspapers, market reports or
television, or acquiring first-hand data through active research methodologies, for example question-
naires, interviews and participant observation [41], or passively receiving information through sub-
scribed alerting services provided by information vendors. With the number of methods and
techniques available, people in charge of collection of environmental information should be able to
select the most appropriate one, with consideration of the quality of information and the cost of col-
lection. Moreover, possessing search skills and knowledge of search operators (e.g. Boolean operator,
truncation, wildcard) is essential for formulating a proper search strategy to retrieve information from
databases or through online search engines. Information literate workers would be able to formulate
a suitable search strategy to find more relevant and updated information. Last but not least, collectors
should be aware that the methods and techniques hired should be based on legal collections of open-
source or public domain information, without involving immoral, unethical or illegal activities.
‘When to stop’ is about the judgment of ‘enough’ information, which could satisfy the identified
information needs. Over-collection of information would result in information overload. Both
qualitative and quantitative criteria are helpful for making rational choices to determine when the
collected information is ‘enough’ [44]. The personal judgment of experienced information workers
would also help identify the quantity of collection.
2.4.3. Information organization and storage
Collected or created information should be organized and stored systematically in order to facilitate
future information retrieval and sharing. Stored information reflects a significant and frequently
consulted component of the organization’s memory and its perception of the environment [45–46].
Fig. 3. Perceived strategic uncertainty and environmental scanning. Adapted from [33].
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 725
In enterprises, information on paper could be stored in traditional filing systems, or digitized and
archived on hard disks attached to file servers. No matter what format, the design and performance of
the system, such as its creation of taxonomies, resource description and comprehensiveness, would
greatly affect the accessibility and retrieval of stored information, especially when the majority of infor-
mation is collected from electronic sources and the internet [47]. On the organizational level, there is a
need to have a clearly stated policy for information organization and storage. Individual employees
should have the awareness and knowledge of proper organization and storage of information. Without
employees possessing sufficient information literacy skills, organizations would not be able to catego-
rize their knowledge base properly, which may result in various barriers for future retrieval and use.
2.4.4. Information processing and synthesizing
The collected or generated information could be directly stored for future accessibility, or processed
into information products or services through some sets of value added activities, such as filtering,
interpreting and repackaging. Analysing the collected information and extracting meaning from it is
the most important part of environmental scanning and, moreover, today’s complex and turbulent
environment places a premium on the reliability and quality of information. The collected informa-
tion should be analysed for issues and trends that may influence the organization, to assist users to
acquire a better sense of situations and make better decisions, and hence facilitate the creation of a
dynamic knowledge capability. The relevant information from each source should be extracted and
information from multiple sources should be organized. Srinivas [48] pointed out that the following
questions need to be addressed during processing: which parts of the information collected would
be used? What additional data are needed? How can information be best presented to enable situa-
tion understanding and problem solving?
However, a 2005 study reports that knowledge workers are spending more time collecting infor-
mation and less time analysing it [49]. Inadequate filtering of information would result in informa-
tion overload; with inadequate time for analysis, the collected information will provide either a
recital of facts or a ‘dump’ of data with little advice or confirmation [41]. Without proper informa-
tion processing skills, the gathered information would be underutilized as ‘the organization does not
know what it knows’ [50].
Moreover, there are more than 100 different analytical techniques which could be used to glean
meaning from the collected data and information, such as blind spot analysis, competitor bench-
marking and SWOT analysis [41], and due to the rapid technological development, more advanced
information systems equipped with enterprise decision support tools are available. However, these
tools still rely heavily on human interpretation and cognition [24]. If staff have insufficient knowl-
edge of these techniques, and are without the ability to manage information flows for future utiliza-
tions and developments, advances in information and communication technology may also impose
immense challenges for people with handling the existing overly loaded information [24].
2.4.5. Information distribution
The processed environmental information, with potential effects on the organization, should be
reported to the appropriate decision makers within the firm. Myburgh [41] and Albright [51] suggest
some points deserving special attention in information distribution. Firstly, to ensure that the
correct information or intelligence makes its way to the correct destination, as the decision makers
may be scattered throughout the organization; secondly, the information should be delivered
through vehicles and in formats that mesh well with the user’s information preferences and work
habits; thirdly, the intelligence also must match the users’ requirements of presentation, such as its
orientation and content. Briefly, the real issue is getting the right information to the right person at
the right time and in a usable form.
The digital information era has brought incredible advances which have made the advent of new
methods of communication, such as email, instant message tools and Web 2.0 tools, possible. To
ensure those tools’ effectiveness as information dissemination platforms, besides the essential
operational knowledge, users should also be able to identify their respective strengths and weak-
nesses and make deliberate selections.
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 726
The benefits of a wider distribution of information are also highlighted in earlier literature. Nutt
[52], from the perspective of decision-making theory, found that, when the same piece of informa-, from the perspective of decision-making theory, found that, when the same piece of informa-
tion is distributed to many individuals, multiple interpretations could be resolved and a consensus
would be reached. Daft [53] discovered that multiple interpretations of the same information could
improve the decisions by redefining the problem. A wider distribution of information may bring
more broadly based and more frequent organizational learning, as retrieval efforts are more likely to
succeed and individuals and units are more likely to be able to learn [54].
However, in practice, it is found that organizations differ in the extent to which information is dis-
seminated: some firms may allow a wide distribution of all information; some may permit a sizeable
amount of information to be accessible to all employees; there are also some firms which restrict the
access to certain types of information due to its confidential nature [55]. Although, as already sug-
gested, key decision makers are not only at the top of the organization [41], in a highly centralized,
while less information literate organization, information dissemination can be strictly limited to the
top management only [56]. Moreover, many employees narrow-mindedly focus only on what they or
their divisions need, without considering the broader picture of sharing information with others [29].
2.4.6. Information evaluation and use
On receiving the processed information, the end-users would evaluate and use it for assisting with
decision making. In the current information intensive business environment, the utilization of infor-
mation is indeed a critical factor in the achievement of organizational success [57]. Information liter-[57]. Information liter-. Information liter-
ate decision makers would be open-minded and objective, rely not merely on the guidance of instincts
and their experiences, but use information from a variety of sources presenting different viewpoints.
At this stage, various information literacy skills are required. For example, decision makers need
information evaluation skills to make judgments about the quantity and quality of the received
information in terms of reliability, accuracy, timeliness and so on. If they find the information insuf-
ficient or unqualified, they may initiate a new round of scanning; with sufficient and high-quality
information, they may still need to process and synthesize it based on the real-time situation and
different usage.
3. Proposed research models
As an integrated process, equal importance should be attached to the different steps of environmen-
tal scanning. Based on the above literature review, information literacy skills are concluded as
essential for conducting effective scanning processes. In addition, several studies have found that
scanning activities could be completed through staff from different functional units and at different
hierarchical levels [1, 58], not restricted to the top management level. For example, a senior manager
needs information for product repositioning. They may assign staff from the sales department to
acquire information like existing customers’ feedback and market trends through talking to custom-
ers, or conducting online searching for related news or market reports. To retrieve and obtain more
relevant information efficiently, those employees should be able to formulate a suitable search
strategy, and have the ability to filter and synthesize the collected intelligence using their own
knowledge and interpretation skills, and report it to the senior manager in a timely manner and
presented in an easily useable format. As a result, to investigate the role of information literacy
skills in environmental scanning, we should include all staff participating in the scanning process.
Daft’s model [33], as the most widely adopted theoretical foundation of study on the relationship
between uncertainty and environmental scanning, states that senior managers’ perceived strategic
uncertainty would determine the scanning frequency and mode, i.e. how often and in what way
would organizations collect information about their external environment. Besides information
acquisition, whether the other steps of environmental scanning, such as identification of informa-
tion needs and information distribution, would also be influenced by perceived uncertainty levels
remains unexplored. Moreover, this model has not considered the role of information literacy skills
in environmental scanning, as well as the participation of employees.
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 727
A refined model has been proposed addressing the limitations of Daft’s model (Figure 4). This
model is developed based on a formal six-step environmental scanning process conducted to fulfil
top management’s needs for strategic decision making. In this refined model, equal importance has
been attached to the scanning steps starting from ‘scanning needs identification’ to ‘information
evaluation and use’. Furthermore, besides acknowledging senior managers’ directing role in the
whole process, employees participating in environmental scanning are also covered through the
influence of their information literacy skills on carrying out corresponding scanning activities.
Figure 5 shows the refined model in detail. Senior managers’ (strategic decision makers) per-
ceived strategic uncertainty is still proposed to have influence on frequency and rate of importance
for environmental scanning, but is not restricted to the step of information collection. The other
steps would also vary to cope with different uncertainty levels. ‘Implemented frequency’ refers to
how often organizations would conduct the corresponding scanning activity; ‘rate of importance’
refers to the importance attached to each scanning step, in terms of conducting manner (primitive,
ad hoc, reactive or proactive) [59] and assigned scanning unit (CEO, a dedicated unit or a non-
dedicated unit) [60].
Moreover, a perceived level of information literacy skills is also proposed to have influence on
the scanning frequency and rate of interest. Bandura [61] found that motivation levels, affective
states and actions are more based on what people believe than what is objectively true. In the con-
text of environmental scanning, people involved in the activities may not have an objective view of
Fig. 4. Coverage of Daft’s model and the refined model.
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 728
their actual level of information literacy skills; instead, their scanning behaviours are determined
by their perceived level of information literacy skills.
Decision makers guiding the scanning process may adjust the scanning frequency and rate of
importance for each step according to their perceived strategic uncertainty level, as well as their
perceptions towards the participants’ overall level of related information literacy skills, such as
skills for gathering, processing, disseminating and presenting information. However, how this per-
ceived level of information skills would affect the process remains unexplored. If the decision mak-
ers feel the overall level is low, it would be possible that they require the participants to conduct
more frequent scanning with higher attached importance, in order to fulfil their information needs.
It is also possible that the senior managers choose to complete the steps by themselves, seek help
from consultant companies, or just avoid the challenging tasks due to low expectations of the out-
For employees participating in environmental scanning, their perceived level of their own related
information literacy skills, or in other words, self-efficacy of information literacy skills, would also
impact their conducted scanning activities. Self-efficacy refers to the belief that one is capable of
performing a particular behaviour or task to attain certain goals [62–63]. Self-efficacy belief provides
the foundation for human motivation, well-being and accomplishment, and it will determine how
long individuals will persevere, how resilient they will be in the face of difficulties, and how much
effort they will expend on an activity [22, 64]. If participants perceive that they have the correspond-
ing information skills to produce the desired outcomes, they will be willing to perform the scanning
activities; if they feel the task in hand exceeds their capabilities, they will have little incentive to act.
The implemented frequency and rate of importance for each scanning step would impact its
effectiveness, and hence influence the final outcome of the whole scanning process, i.e. the quality
of environmental information ready for assisting strategic decision making, in terms of relevance,
accuracy, reliability, timeliness and so on.
This model is proposed based on the formal scanning process, which is directed by the clearly
identified strategic information needs of senior managers. Moreover, the generic model would be
revised for each scanning step based on the real situation. For example, the implemented frequency
Fig. 5. A refined model of perceived strategic uncertainty, perceived information literacy skills and environmental scanning.
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 729
may not be applicable for the step ‘information processing and synthesizing’, ‘information organiza-
tion and storage’ and ‘information dissemination’. For the step of ‘information acquisition’, some
other factors may also need to be taken into consideration, such as ‘quality of information sources’
in terms of reliability and accessibility [4].
It is also worth noting that this model only covered the perceived level of information literacy
skills, as the actual level of skills could only be assessed approximately through a reliable and com-
prehensive instrument, and the relationship between perceived and actual levels of information
literacy skills for conducting environmental scanning remains unexplored. Upon verifying the
model through a combination of quantitative (questionnaire survey) and qualitative (interview and
case study) research methods, we also plan to discover whether these two are correlated, and hence
reveal the influence of information literacy skills on environmental scanning through a more objec-
tive perspective.
4. Conclusion
Environmental scanning could provide early warning signals for organizations, and help companies
develop and modify business strategies to meet changing external circumstances and hence improve
their competitiveness and performance. To achieve effective results, environmental scanning should
be conducted as an integrated systematic process with equal importance attached to its various
steps. Furthermore, environmental scanning is an information intensive process, and the develop-
ment of information technology and telecommunication provides various channels and applica-
tions, but also creates challenges for accessing, processing and distributing environmental
information. To obtain high-quality environmental information for assisting tactical and strategic
decision making, each employee participating in environmental scanning must possess the corre-
sponding information literacy skills.
In reviewed mainstream literature, the majority of studies investigating environmental scan-
ning activities, as directed by Daft’s model, have mainly focused on the information collection
step, with some easily measurable variables, such as frequency of scanning, use of different kinds
of information sources and scanned environmental sectors, while neglecting other activities, such
as needs identification, information processing, organizing, dissemination and utilization.
Moreover, the role of information literacy skills for conducting various environmental scanning
activities has not been covered in this model, and has not been deliberately investigated in the
reviewed empirical studies. Additionally, Daft’s model does not consider the influence of
employees participating in various scanning activities. According to its guidance, the majority of
empirical studies collected data only from senior managers, who play a leading role in the scan-
ning process, while ignoring the contribution of employees from various function units and hier-
archical levels.
The proposed model aims to address the limitations of Daft’s model as well as to cover the influ-
ence of information literacy skills on the final outcome of environmental scanning. In the refined
model, environmental scanning is re-defined to end at ‘evaluation and use of information’, without
covering the formulation and implementation of adaptive behaviour. The reason for this exclusion
is that several other factors, such as leadership style, availability of resources and personal intuition,
can play a significant role in decision making and strategy implementation. With such clearly
defined boundaries, the contribution of information literacy skills on scanning could be evaluated
through the users’ perception towards the quality of environmental information that is captured,
synthesized and ready for use, while removing the impact of annoying factors. The refined model
attaches equal importance to each scanning step, without restricting it to information acquisition. It
proposes that all scanning steps may adjust accordingly to cope with different uncertainty levels.
The model also incorporates the influence of information literacy skills and acknowledges the role
of all participants, through the decision makers’ perception of the overall skills level, as well as
employees’ self-efficacy of information skills.
Xue Zhang, Shaheen Majid and Schuber t Foo
Journal of Information Science, 36 (6) 2010, pp. 719–732 © CILIP, DOI: 10.1177/0165551510385644 730
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... IL has been conceptualized as a driver of informed learning enabling collaborative use of information in the sociotechnical environment-the workplace (Sommerville and Bruce, 2017). Zhang et al. (2010Zhang et al. ( , 2014 argued that IL skills were essential for environmental scanning and making strategic decisions. Weiner's (2011) literature review reported the dearth of IL research for the workforce and divided the existing studies into three key areas, namely, IL importance for the workforce, the way IL differs in the workplace, and academia, and barriers to workplace IL. ...
This study investigated the current state of information literacy (IL) skills among lawyers practicing at the District Bar Association of Sargodha, Punjab, Pakistan. A cross-sectional survey using a questionnaire was conducted to collect data from 297 lawyers. The questionnaire comprised 20 statements related to information literacy along with certain demographic variables. Each lawyer was personally visited in the assigned chamber by one of the researchers to record responses. Both descriptive (frequencies, percentages, mean scores, standard deviations) and inferential statistics (Pearson correlation coefficient, t-test, and one-way analysis of variance) were applied for data analysis in SPSS. The results showed that a large majority of lawyers participating in the survey never received any formal training concerning information literacy. However, most of these lawyers perceived IL skills as important in the context of their workplace especially in conducting legal research. These lawyers were more competent in the basic IL skills and less competent in advanced IL skills. In addition, the lawyers’ age, practical experience, practicing levels, computer proficiency, and English Language proficiency predicted their levels of IL skills. There was a critical need for the development of IL instruction programs for not only practicing lawyers but also for law students to improve their skills since these lawyers felt less competent with advanced levels of IL skills. It is hoped that the present study contributes to the existing body of WIL literature focusing especially on the role of IL in the context of legal work and outlining the current state of lawyers’ IL skills in Pakistan as no such study has appeared so far.
... The purpose of this environmental scan is to provide an overview of the types of current OE programs in BC schools for students in grades 6-12. Environmental scanning entails the process of seeking, gathering, interpreting and using information from the internal and external environments of an organisation to inform strategic decision-making and to direct future organisational action (Choo, 2001;Zhang et al., 2010). Benefits of conducting an environmental scan include: cost-effectiveness (it is based on available resources); it can result in a broad, yet manageable and comprehensive research process; it results in a "snapshot" of the environment; pertinent data and information can be collected in a timely, manageable way; and it can raise awareness of questions for further study and clarification (Rowel et al., 2005). ...
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Being active in nature carries many benefits and there are a number of ways to design and deliver outdoor programs so that young people can realize these benefits. This paper provides an environmental scan of the outdoor education (OE) programs currently offered in public school, grades 6-12, across British Columbia (BC). The environmental scan methodology involved (a) a review of academic literature related to OE in Canada and BC, and (b) an internet search of programs in each school in BC. The results of the scan outline the wide-ranging outdoor learning activities being conducted in each of the 63 school districts in BC. Analysis of the literature and websites revealed eight main categories of OE programs: (a) physical and health education courses; (b) programs with an Indigenous focus; (c) interdisciplinary programs; (d) unique content programs; (e) annual trips; (f) district programs; (g) school-wide initiatives; and (h) community partnership programs. This environmental scan has implications for educators, administrators, non-governmental organizations wishing to partner with schools, BC Boards of Education, the provincial Ministry of Education, and other provinces and countries regarding creation of programs and resource allocation for outdoor learning.
... He makes a strong case for recognising the different motivations in academia (thinking) and in the corporate world (doing). This contextual difference impacts on which competencies are relevant: environmental scanning, for example, in the workplace (Zhang et al., 2010). While Natt's discussion focuses on librarians, it could also help to explain why graduates do not always bring appropriate skills to the workplace. ...
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As employability has become a more visible graduate attribute, it is becoming recognised that a better understanding of information practices in work may enable a smoother transition from university to employment. This paper discusses the current state of workplace information literacy and presents the findings of research into staff experiences of information use in a City insurance firm. A framework previously developed out of phenomenographic research into nursing is employed to draw parallels and highlight differences between insurance workplace and university student terminology. Context-specific hierarchical statements using the language of the participants are developed from coded interview texts. These statements, which are drawn together in illustrative personae, provide a rich and detailed view of the participants’ experience of effective information use. It is suggested that a better understanding of language use in communities of practice would facilitate transition both between and within the communities.
... An inquiry by Zhang et al., (2010Zhang et al., ( , 2014 discovered, in a review article, that information literacy skills were essential for each step of environmental scanning and strategic decision making. Weiner's study (2011) reviewed research on information literacy and the workplace, and reported the existence of a limited amount of literature on information literacy implications for workforce and job-related, life-long learning. ...
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Introduction. This study reports the results of a cross-sectional survey conducted to assess the information literacy self-efficacy of scientists working at the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Lahore, Pakistan. Method. Survey method using a questionnaire was employed for data collection. The questionnaire containing information literacy self-efficacy scale and some demographic variables was personally administered to all the scientists at the Lahore labs complex of the Council. The response rate was 86.42%. Both descriptive as well as inferential statistics were applied for data analysis using SPSS. Analysis. Descriptive (frequencies, percentages, mean scores, standard deviations) as well as inferential statistics (Pearson correlation coefficient, t-test, and one-way analysis of variance) were applied for data analysis. Results. The results indicated that the scientists assessed themselves as ‘often true’ for overall information literacy self-efficacy scale and its sub-dimensions. However, item-based analysis revealed that these scientists were less comfortable in utilizing advanced level information literacy skills. In addition, the age, sex, academic qualification, research experience, number of research publications, and instruction received appeared to be the predictor of self-efficacy. Conclusions. Since the scientists were less competent in advanced level information literacy skills, efforts should be focused on improving their self-efficacy. There is a critical need for user-centered instruction programmes for in-service as well as for future scientists. This study would make a worthy contribution to the existing research on workplace information literacy as no such study was found addressing the context of working scientists.
... If each individual has the ability of information literacy, they can sort and analyze the validity of information (Freeburg, 2017;Anna & Harisanty, 2019;Yanto, Anwar, & Lusiana, 2017). In addition, this ability is also needed in the working environment since it helps to solve work problems being faced (Zang, Majid, & Foo, 2010;Abiolu, & Okere, 2012). Most importantly, this information literacy ability is a life long learning (Solmaz, 2017). ...
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A Flashcard is one of the media to develop student information literacy in which its application includes activities of analyzing, writing and telling stories. Storytelling is a process of reading that is useful to increase the courage to appear in public. This research used descriptive method. For preliminary research, we used experiments, making flash cards as learning media for elementary students. After that, the students were interviewed. The results of this study indicate that students are very enthusiastic to start a flashcard game that they think is fun. The benefits of a flashcard game include improving language skills, increasing the ability to compose stories, remembering and memorizing, analyzing a problem, and enriching vocabulary. Apart from the cognitive side, the benefits of a flashcard game can also increase self-confidence, develop good and effective communication, and enhance creativity. The concept of a flashcard is a learning medium by playing. The advantages of flashcards include fun learning media, and simple and attractive shapes as they are pictorial and colorful.
Purpose This paper aims to investigate the influence of Islamic marketing ethics and convergence marketing on competitive advantage and bank performance. Design/methodology/approach This study is based on a survey of 204 Indonesian branch managers from the Islamic banking industry. Results were produced with the partial least square approach. Findings Results revealed that Islamic marketing ethics and convergence marketing have sufficient confidence to have significant influences on competitive advantage, producing a positive association with a competitive advantage. However, Islamic marketing ethics and convergence marketing did not influence bank performance directly. Competitive advantage positively mediated the relationship. Furthermore, organizational digital literacy did not moderate the relationship between convergence marketing and bank performance. Research limitations/implications This study contributes to the conceptualization of convergence marketing and the identification of its effects on competitive advantage and bank performance. The identification of convergence marketing in this dissertation contains dimensions of mobile, security, foreign currency, holistic and interactivity as different aspects from the steps of Islamic banks to digitize their services to the internet in a single application. The results also indicate that convergence marketing does not have a direct effect on bank performance but has an indirect effect through competitive advantage. Convergence marketing must first create a bank advantage over its competitors to have a good effect on bank performance. Practical implications This study offers many opportunities for Islamic bank marketers to improve performance. Many Islamic banks currently do not implement Islamic marketing ethics consistently and thoroughly. The results of this study encourage Islamic banks by showing that the more intensive and consistent they are in implementing Islamic marketing ethics, the better their competitive advantage and the higher the performance. This effort can be done in various ways, such as offering tariffs/ratios of services transparently to customers, not exaggerating the benefits of the products offered to distort customer expectations, building brands that can strengthen customer confidence in Islamic banks and only offering products and services with high-quality standards. Limitation and future research This study uses a sample of Islamic banking so that it is still limited to certain types of banks. Future research needs to conduct model testing in different contexts such as conventional banking. In addition, further research needs to use the capabilities or capabilities of bank IT as a moderator in the effect of convergence marketing on bank performance. Future research also needs to control for more variables and use a scale that is more complex than the binary scale (for example, the percentage of share ownership or territory in the scope of the province or district/city). Originality/value This research views the Islamic bank competitiveness through the lenses of Islamic ethical theory and convergence marketing theory.
Purpose The present research aims to gauge the Information Literacy Skills (ILSs) of the University Library and Information Science Professionals (LISPs) of Pakistan and consider it as a forecaster of improved Research Support Services (RSSs). Design/methodology/approach The purposive sampling method through a questionnaire was applied and administered (online and offline) to assemble data from LISPs of 219 universities of Pakistan. The questionnaire covered the eight factors of ILSs and four of RSSs. Findings The regression model illustrates that the predicted variation of ILSs in RSSs is statistically significant. The coefficient of determination ( R ² ) indicates that ILSs predict 70% variance in RSSs. Furthermore, the beta coefficient demonstrates that the input value of “managing findings” toward improved RSSs is moderately high as compared to other factors of ILSs. Therefore, the study concludes that ILSs of LISPs are a prerequisite for their professional growth to improve their RSSs. Originality/value The research has discovered the whole levels of ILSs and RSSs of the university LISPs of Pakistan. The study recommends raising the ILSs of LISPs to provide more efficient RSSs.
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Objective To examine the extent and nature of evidence on the use of the environmental scan (ES) in the health services delivery literature. Design Scoping review. Methods This scoping review followed the five-stage scoping review methodology outlined by Khalil et al . A Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies was completed. Seven electronic databases and the grey literature were searched. Pairs of researchers independently performed two levels of screening and data extraction. Data were analysed using qualitative content and thematic analysis. Results Ninety-six studies were included in the scoping review. Researchers conducted ESs for many purposes, the most common being to examine the current state of programmes, services or policies. Recommendations were informed by ESs in 20% of studies. Most common data collection methods were literature review (71%), key informant or semistructured interviews (46%) and surveys (35%). Over half (53%) of the studies used a combination of passive (looking at information eg, literature, policies, guidelines) and active (looking for information eg, surveys, interviews) approaches to data collection. Person sources of data (eg, healthcare stakeholders, community representatives) and non-person sources of data (eg, documents, electronic databases, the web) were drawn on to a similar extent. The thematic analysis of the definitions/descriptions yielded several themes including instrument of discovery, knowledge synthesis, forward-looking and decision making. Research gaps identified included absence of a standard definition, inconsistencies in terminology and lack of guiding frameworks in the health services delivery context. Conclusion ESs were conducted to gather evidence and to help inform decision making on a range of policy and health services delivery issues across the continuum of care. Consistency in terminology, a consensus definition and more guidance on ES design may help provide structure for researchers and other stakeholders, and ultimately advance ES as a methodological approach. A working definition of ES in a health services delivery context is presented.
This investigation focusses on the environment of socialisation needed to mitigate internal environmental knowledge barriers. The research instrument is a questionnaire distributed to 87 Spanish Knowledge-Intensive Business Services (commonly known as KIBS). Within the SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) sector, KIBS are playing an increasingly important role due to the reliance these types of businesses have on company founders and their professional knowledge about service and business operations. The results show that both the direct and indirect effects of socialisation on environmental performance caused by environmental knowledge barriers are statistically significant. The findings therefore pave the way to dealing with sustainable development and overcoming difficult environmental barriers, such as resistance to change or lack of financial resources, through knowledge socialisation. The findings also complement organisational theories of management by providing a clearer definition of environmental knowledge and guidance for managers. --------------- Online copy through this link (only the first 50 downloads will be free)
Presents an integrative theoretical framework to explain and to predict psychological changes achieved by different modes of treatment. This theory states that psychological procedures, whatever their form, alter the level and strength of self-efficacy. It is hypothesized that expectations of personal efficacy determine whether coping behavior will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and aversive experiences. Persistence in activities that are subjectively threatening but in fact relatively safe produces, through experiences of mastery, further enhancement of self-efficacy and corresponding reductions in defensive behavior. In the proposed model, expectations of personal efficacy are derived from 4 principal sources of information: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological states. Factors influencing the cognitive processing of efficacy information arise from enactive, vicarious, exhortative, and emotive sources. The differential power of diverse therapeutic procedures is analyzed in terms of the postulated cognitive mechanism of operation. Findings are reported from microanalyses of enactive, vicarious, and emotive modes of treatment that support the hypothesized relationship between perceived self-efficacy and behavioral changes. (21/2 p ref)
Half the decisions in organizations fail. Studies of 356 decisions in medium to large organizations in the U.S. and Canada reveal that these failures can he traced to managers who impose solutions, limit the search for alternatives, and use power to implement their plans. Managers who make the need for action clear at the outset, set objectives, carry out an unrestricted search for solutions, and get key people to participate are more apt to be successful. Tactics prone to fail were used in two of every three decisions that were studied.
Environmental scanning is generally viewed by strategic management scholars as a prerequisite for formulating effective business strategies. Moreover, effective scanning of the environment is seen as necessary to the successful alignment of competitive strategies with environmental requirements and the achievement of outstanding performance. This study of small manufacturing firms competing in a wide variety of industries examines the effect of the frequency and scope of environmental scanning on environment-competitive strategy alignment. Results suggest that obtaining information on several aspects of specific environmental sectors (for example, customers, competitors, suppliers) facilitates alignment between some competitive strategies and environments (that is, industry life cycle stages) whereas the frequency of scanning has no effect on such alignments.
Twenty-two decision groups in three manufacturing and three research and development organizations are studied to identify the characteristics of the environment that contribute to decision unit members experiencing uncertainty in decision making. Two dimensions of the environment are identified. The simple-complex dimension is defined as the number of factors taken into consideration in decision making. The static-dynamic dimension is viewed as the degree to which these factors in the decision unit's environment remain basically the same over time or are in a continual process of change. Results indicate that individuals in decision units with dynamic-complex environments experience the greatest amount of uncertainty in decision making. The data also indicate that the static-dynamic dimension of the environment is a more important contributor to uncertainty than the simple-complex dimension.
In this article we argue that the extant representations of the concept of organizational memory are fragmented and underdeveloped. In developing a more coherent theory, we address possible concerns about anthropomorphism; define organizational memory and elaborate on its structure; and discuss the processes of information acquisition, retention, and retrieval. Next, these processes undergird a discussion of how organizational memory can be used, misused, or abused in the management of organizations. Some existing theories are reassessed with explicit attention to memory. The paper closes with an examination of the methodological challenges that await future researchers in this area.
For a strategic information scanning system to provide useful strategic information at a low cost when it is needed, it should focus on target information needs, allocate effort among those exposed to relevant information, and have an effective system for storing, processing, and disseminating information.