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Conceptualising, operationalising and transforming environmental scanning: case studies from the New Zealand tertiary education sector.
Auckland, Univ., 2015
Abstract: The contemporary global business environment is becoming increasingly complex, turbulent, unpredictable, and overloaded with information. In this context, organisations and their environmental scanning (ES) capabilities are not producing quality information and knowledge with which to feed the strategic planning process - largely because this capability continues to be operationalised as a 'periodic' process. This thesis aims to increase the effectiveness of the ES capability, as operationalised in industry. It introduces and analyses the dynamic capability (DC) strategy development framework, due to its focus on operating in dynamic environments. The sensing DC is the first of three classes in this framework. A review of the ES and sensing DC literature reveals that the two constructs share similar characteristics, although research into each of these constructs is currently progressing in parallel. It also shows that their integration is feasible. An empirical investigation is then conducted to determine whether this integration would be feasible within industry, and also whether it would be beneficial. The empirical investigation explores how ES is conceptualised, operationalised and transformed within the New Zealand tertiary education sector. This sector was chosen due to its moderate to high level of dynamism, with implementation of the government's Tertiary Education Strategy in 2008. The investigation utilises a qualitative exploratory/descriptive approach, by using semi-structured interviews with senior managers of two independent organisations to provide a detailed description of how ES is applied in a contemporary context. The data is developed into a multiple-case study, upon which within-case and cross-case analyses are performed. This study found that senior managers expect ES to take on the characteristics of the sensing DC in practice. The findings of the thesis show that integrating ES into the sensing DC would improve its effectiveness. Firstly, integrating the constructs would unite the two fields of study and remove duplication in their ongoing research. Secondly, this integration would assist organisations in realising that the ES capability can most effectively be applied in dynamic environments when it is being constantly transformed and reconfigured - a central tenet of the sensing DC and the DC framework.