Situational dimensions: the effect of perceived environmental uncertainty. Managers who perceive the environment to be more uncertain will tend to scan more. Environmental uncertainty is indicated by the complexity, dynamism, and importance of the sectors comprising the external environment.
Organizational strategy and scanning strategy: an organization’s overall strategy is related to the sophistication and scope of its scanning activities. Scanning must be able to provide the information and information processing needed to develop and pursue the elected strategy.
Managerial traits: unanswered questions. Little is known with confidence about the effect of the manager’s job-related and cognitive traits on scanning. Upper-level managers seem to scan more than lower-level managers. Functional managers scan beyond the limits of their specializations.
Information needs: the focus of environmental scanning. Most studies look at scanning in various environmental sectors: customers, competitors, suppliers, technology; social, political, economic conditions. Business organizations focus their scanning on market-related sectors of the environment.
Information seeking: source usage and preferences. Although managers scan with a wide range of sources, they prefer personal sources to formal, impersonal sources, especially when seeking information about developments in the fluid, market-related sectors.
Scanning methods: organizations scan in a variety of modes, depending on the organization’s size, dependence and perception of the environment, experience with scanning and planning, and the industry that the organization is in.
Information use: strategic planning and enhanced organizational learning. Information from scanning is increasingly being used to drive the strategic planning process. Research suggests that effective scanning and planning is linked to improved organizational learning and performance.