Chapter 4

Collaborative Information Seeking in the Competitive Intelligence Process1

4.1. Introduction

In a world undergoing perpetual social and economic transformation, decision making demands permanent reactivity, particularly in light of the globalization phenomenon. Decision making is the core of competitive intelligence (CI) and requires us to seek information that could help in resolving a decision problem (DP). In most books on decision support, emphasis is placed on the importance of clarifying a DP and on information seeking (or gathering), which are the primordial phases in solving a DP.

Going from the phase of clarification of the DP to the information seeking phase requires that the DP be first transformed into an information problem (IP). Thus, an IP can be considered to be a derivative of a DP [KIS 07, ODU 09].

An IP demands that we seek and retrieve information, indispensable activities in solving a DP following the CI process. However, it has been shown that the final goal of information retrieval is the production of knowledge, and that this is a collaborative task1 [KAR 98]. Several studies have shown that information retrieval is both a cognitive and a social process that requires collaboration between users. In fact, users’ information behavior reveals that they manifest collaborative information seeking (CIS) patterns when attempting to solve IPs.

Based on the fact that the overall effectiveness of a group is not the same as the sum of its individual parts, ...

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