International Business-Government Communications: U.S. Structures, Actors, and Issues

By Jack N. Behrman; J. J. Boddewyn et al. | Go to book overview

3
Intelligence Networks: The Collection, Evaluation, and Dissemination of Information

Effectiveness in influencing policy formation and implementation requires an intelligence network both within the company and through outside services and intermediaries (including U.S. embassies).


The Intelligence Function

A distinction can be made between information and intelligence to the extent that the former is more general in nature and even publicly available (e.g., about the investment climate in a particular country); while intelligence (including its interpretation) is more related to the specific needs of a company and less public, thereby requiring greater efforts as well as pronounced reliance on personal contacts. The problems connected with collecting, evaluating, disseminating, and using such information and intelligence are both general and special in nature.

For one thing, business executives tend to react to their environment as developments come to their attention, rather than to anticipate them through systematic forecasting; and they prefer personal sources of information based on networks of oral communication over impersonal ones (e.g., newspapers and magazines)--particularly at higher echelons.1

In addition, executives are unable or reluctant to acknowledge the relevance of strategic environmental information-especially when it comes from inside the company. This phenomenon seems to be related to a lack of confidence in their subordinates' ability to recognize or interpret the real significance of external developments; but it results in subordinates lacking proper feelings or instructions about what their superiors want in the way of information, in a "mountain of facts without meaning," and in discouragement about the pointlessness of intelligence work.

Higher levels often have privileged sources of information that they do not share, if only to test the quality of the information they receive from their subordinates. The latter are asked to transmit information that will be used to evaluate their performance; and they tend consequently to filter what they communicate upwards. Long lines of communication are also likely to increase distortion; while the status of the information-bearer bears heavily upon his credibility and influence.

While specialization is essential for the efficient command of knowledge, it is

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