Purpose-Little empirical research has been conducted on competitive intelligence (CI). This paper aims to contribute to the quantitative strand of the CI literature by exploring and validating the theoretical constructs of the CI process. Design/methodology/approach-Data from 601 questionnaires filled out by South African and Flemish exporters were subjected to exploratory factor analysis and construct equivalence analysis between the sub-samples. Findings-The results showed that the CI process consists of three constructs, while the context in which CI takes place consists of four constructs. This agrees to some extent with the literature. When verifying the constructs for both cultures it was found that all but one CI context construct can be viewed as equivalent in both groups. Bias analysis identified one item in the questionnaire that was biased. Via regression analysis it was also indicated that the context in which CI takes place influences the CI process to a large extent. The research identified size as an important influencing factor in a business' CI process. Practical implications-Businesses involved in CI should take note that an improvement in their formal infrastructure, employee involvement and internal information processes could enhance their CI capability. Originality/value-This paper contributes towards the formalising of the constructs of competitive intelligence.
A decision support model is presented and discussed which aims at identifying realistic export opportunities for a given exporting country. The model consists of a screening process of four consecutive filters, through which relevant information on markets (such as country risk indicators, macroeconomic data, imports per product group, etc.) is fed, and which allows the identification and deletion of less interesting market opportunities. Results are reported of the application of this decision support model to the case of Thailand, adapted for an analysis of foreign trade data at the SITC four-digit level up to 1997. These results are compared with previous results obtained using the same model. In this way, Thailand's export opportunities in individual countries, and in the Asia-Pacific region in particular, are listed and categorised according to criteria such as import market characteristics and Thailand's market share in the various markets.
Purpose -The objective of the study was to compare competitive intelligence (CI) practices of exporters in South Africa and Belgium. Design/methodology/approach -An e-mail and postal survey in a sample of 292 Belgian and 309 South African exporting companies was carried out in which CI-practices and opinions and attitudes towards CI were measured. Findings -Most respondents report a "CI culture" in their companies. South African and Belgian exporters are, however, not yet well equipped and not very active to conduct effective CI, especially in the areas of planning, process and structure, data collection, data analysis, and especially skills development. In both countries CI-activities are usually not organized in a separate department and, if they are, CI is mostly done in the marketing and sales department. Managers from both countries consider similar types of information important, and they rely on similar sources of information. Although the responsibility for CI is more a top management issue in Flanders than it is in South Africa, South African companies have on average a longer tradition of organized CI-activity and more full-and part-time staff is involved in CI-activity. These differences can be attributed to the fact that, as compared to Belgium, South Africa is an emerging export country in which the need for more formalised CI-activity focusing on the collection of relevant data is more apparent. Originality/value -This is the first comprehensive study of CI-practices in the two countries. The results lead to a number of recommendations for the exporting companies in both countries and in general add to the knowledge of the position of CI in companies.
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