The Need of Economic Intelligence Education in Romanian Universities


Associate Professor Cristian OBREJA, PhD.

Economics and Business Administration Faculty

Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi, Romania

Scientific Secretary Gabriel Cucuteanu, PhD.

Doctoral School of Economics and Business Administration

Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi, Romania

ABSTRACT

Nowadays, there have been numerous discussions on the need of higher education to getting involved into the education of future managers and specialists well-trained in the field of business intelligence.

Even though there is specialized literature on intelligence education, especially newspaper articles and case studies, current literature on this topic falls mainly into the category of informal literature. This is the reason why a huge effort is necessary to create a permanent link between academics, managers and experts in business information which would help them in understanding each other and increase their close cooperation.

The necessity to introduce into higher education curriculum of disciplines related to competition intelligence and to train specialists in Business Intelligence appears both from developments trends in the field in other countries and from recent evolutions in Romania.

This paper presents partial results of research carried out among Romanian managers by the authors between July-August 2013. It aimed to explore manager’s perception of Business Intelligence and to identify the relations between these perceptions and different features of organizations and managers, respectively.

The study shows that under the pressure of competition a large number of Romanian managers have become aware of the importance of competitive intelligence. However, intelligence activities carried out by Romanian companies are limited, among other factors, especially due to scarcity of skills.

To face the competitive intelligence activities of competitors and to develop main skills related to such activities, Business Intelligence courses should be introduced into higher education curriculum in order to create a culture of competitive intelligence among managers of Romanian companies.

 Key words: Economic Intelligence, Intelligence Education, Intelligence Literature, Business Intelligence

 Introduction

Human existence is unimaginable without information, it has had business value since ancient times. In human evolution, the economic factor both in state and private sectors has become more and more important. In the digital age, having control over information and information technology becomes vital. Both states and companies depend more and on information to be able to carry out their core activities, from military operations to business activities. This is how the concept of informational war was born (INFOWAR) – a new form of war directed at attacking (offensive) or defending (defensive) of such an infrastructure.[1]

The world has changed in the 21st century, and globalization changes the relation between companies and states. There exist a more or less fair competition among countries, their significant development being based on raw materials and exports of manufactured goods. Current competition is unprecedented and it influences decisevely the interactions among companies in these countries. Companies have to prove their ability to anticipate and react. The methods used in this battle are not always legal or fair. It means not only to be better than competition but also to replace, confuse or simply buy it.

The mission of the Intelligence Community is that of providing to both business communities and governments the instruments they need to survive, as well as “a common environment of operation”, both at the conceptual and practical levels.[2] This is the reason why it is important to develop a Business Intelligence culture and education among future Romanian managers.

The notion of intelligence is very broad. It is very difficult to approach it from a historical perspective due to the broad directions that it took. Still, its origins can be found in military practice. Miliatry intelligence is as old as war itself. An important reference point is the book The Art of War by Sun Tzu written 2500 years ago. The book contains a set of essays which serve as a basis for explaining the majority of developments in the field of military secrets.[3], and also for understanding the strategic foundations of modern marketing.

The second very important activity is that of collecting information, which refers to national security from a perspective closely linked to the politics of each state, especially after the Second World War.[4]

Leaving history behind and getting closer to global capitalism, we find the third direction, that of business world, of big corporations, which are now in the spotlight, as the systemic approach to business intelligence is a more recent phenomenon[5]. In the context of globalization, the importance of intelligence is unanimously recognized and the reason is very simple. Who holds information has the power of decision.

As a profession, intelligence has existed for ages. Nevertheless, Business Intelligence disciplines have appeared quite recently as independent sciences, just a couple of decades ago. This is due to the complexity of the field and and to esoteric issues. Mowadays, in this field in the majority of countries, there is a bidirectional tendency for and against intelligence service which has as a result the creation of knowledge, theory making, cultivation and operationalizing of methods and techniques which help all who are interested (agencies, state institutions, companies, organizations, citizens). Also, methodology has begun to develop necessary for theoretical and empirical research of competitive intelligence.

If in the last 20 years, collection of information, and, in general, intelligence activities conducted by Romanian companies have been limited by the scarcity of resources – skills, time and money,[6] competitive intelligence gradually has appeared both in business and as one of disciplines in different universities.

Lack of independence of the field and of an approach specific to intelligence that would build its conceptual identity has been emphasized in an editotial of RRSI[7]. It shows that this process should be both broad – it should include all topics linked to intelligence – and also selective – it should not deal with topics outside the field which are already studied by other sciences as a phenomenon and in terms of methodology.

It would be more useful to borrow techniques and principles from other sciences that would allow the study of intelligence through scientific methods and the results be used in academic courses on competitive intelligence. Such an approach could contribute in a broader context to strengthening of Intelligence Education in Romania.

 

Evolutions of Intelligence Education

„Education is the cheapest defense of a nation.“

– Edmund Burke, 18th-century British philosopher

 

Sherman Kent underlined back in 1955 the need to have specific literatute in the field. In his view, intelligence developed a recognized methodology and vocabulary, its own theory and sophisticated instruments. What it lacks is literature, which is the most important issue. So long as this discipline lacks a literature, there is a risk that the method, vocabulary, doctrine and even its fundamental theory does not reach full maturity.[8]

Even though there is specialized literature on Intelligence Education, especially newspaper articles and case studies, current literature on this topic falls mainly into the category of Informal Literature. In the book „Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy“, described as being the most influential book on the analysis of information has ever written in the USA, , Sherman Kent states that: “security and advancement of knowledge are in deep conflict.[9]

Willmoore Kendall,one of Kent’s critics, sustained that Intelligence plays the role of helping responsible politicians to reach their foreign policy objectives, not only by better understanding “what happens abroad “, but also by taking into account the “internal scene” that generates policies for which the Intelligence should take in consideration some alternatives. Also Kendall differences between research conducted by government and academics, the latter being less applied.[10]

Spracher C. William’s paper of 2011 cites Robert Gates (Gates, R. M. (1986, Summer). CIA and the university. Studies in Intelligence, 30) who states: Preserving the freedom of the nation is essential to preserving academic freedom and to defending the nation and freedom, the federal government should use the best minds in the country, including those in the academic community.

In the first chapter of his dissertation, entitled An Introduction to National Security Intelligence Professional Education: a Competency-based Approach, William C. Spracher analyses the evolution of Intelligence Education in the USA.

Starting with the 70’s, due to an increase of public awareness of intelligence issues, civil academic institutions in the USA have gradually started the introduction of this topic for their students, mainly in social sciences. At the same time, some institutions have started to develop Business Intelligence Programs, and other institutions even undergraduate and graduate degrees.

The accent in higher education is on information of national security, and the majority of intelligence agencies focus on training at the workplace of specialists and managers in collecting information and of other professionals.

After the tragedy of September 11 2011, decision makers in the USA asked that all the necessary measures would have been taken to prevent in the future disastrous intelligence failures as a result of mistaken interpretation of intentions. Even though many attempts have been made over time to develop educational programs in this field, without much success, after the 11th of September attacks more and more American higher education institutions have begun to develop educational programs in education intelligence, many times with former officials and other instructors.

Thus, after 11th of September, almost a totally new generation of professionals in intelligence was brought to governmental agencies. At the same time, the relation between American universities and the Federal Government Security strengthened, people involved in higher education administration being advised to take into consideration the role of intelligence education in higher education institutions. If in other fields people are qualified for exercising their profession, experts and other intelligence officers do not always hold a degree in their firld.

Even though during the 11th of September attacks the American Intelligence Agency benefited from highly trained personnel, its general system failed. That is why, it has been considered that the personnel was poorly trained over the years for carrying out tasks of this type. [11]

This is the reason why an accent has been placed on the involvement of higher education in the US in training future intelligence specialists and developing educational programs for newly hired officers to equip them with basic skills. Along with full-time programs, training by means of short courses was recommended. This type of courses is delivered frequently, and this is justified as skills easily become obsolete and have to be updated continuously. Intellegence is, therefore, one of the disciplines which benefits from life-long learning, of years of intense cognitive development.

Due to technological development, technical intelligence represented by satellites, computers that scan pictures and interpret different signs has grown tremendously, and it has become an important direction of development or even as a resource for competitive intelligence. Nevertheless, human intelligence still plays an important role. Without human ability to transform this raw and unprocessed data into finished intelligence, it would be very difficult to transform it into knowledge, obtained many times through extensive experience. This knowledge based on specialized experience of people and on the availability of technology allowing the obtaining of competitive information in higher education can be delivered through intelligence education, using the two approaches: the traditional social science approach and the more specialized intelligence studies curriculum.

The first organization that promoted the concept of business intelligence in Romania was the Romanian Association of Business intelligence (2005, founder, Dr. Grigore Silaşi, Professor), which was set up by a group of experts, authors of some reference papers in the field and organizers of the first Master Program in Business Intelligence in Romania within the Faculty of Economic Sciences at the West University of Timisoara.

The necessity of introducing into higher education programs in Romania of new disciplines on competitive intelligence came also from the fact graduates could get hired in the field of business intelligence, taking into account the Classification of Occupations in Romania has already introduced/approved new professionas: information analyst (code COR 242224), business information analyst (code COR 242222), business information expert (code COR 242217), information analyst assistant (code COR 413207).[12]

Intelligence is taught extensively in the USA in higher education, but is usually seated within more traditional programs, such as Political Science or International Relations..

Intelligence study represents an important component of Intelligence Education and more and more civil higher education institutions offer programs in the field of Intelligence in order to develop the curriculum of future graduates which will become not only professionals in intelligence in governmental agencies, but also in business and academia.

 

Study on Value Attributed to Business Intelligence by Romanian Managers

 

Methodology

This is a pilot study and it aimed to investigate the perceptions of Romanian managers of the value attributed to Business Intelligence and to identify the relation between these perceptions and different features of organizations and managers, respectively.

The research team benefited from the active support provided by two important organizations: Employer’s Association and the Society for Financial Investments (SIF) Moldova.

The researched population is composed of 4452 companies, members of the Employer’s Association and the shares of which are held by SIF Moldova. The Employer’s Association is a federation consisting mainly of private entrepreneurs, and which represent 23 sectors of national economy and which is a spokesperson of its members and of the business community in general. The Federation of Employer’s Association has in its structure: 4.328 member companies with 557.990 employees. SIF Moldova holds shares in 124 companies.

Between July-August of 2013, 522 questionnaires were sent by email, chosen randomly out of the total of 4452 companies. 68 valid questionnires were received.

The percentage of respondents who completed the questionnaire on-line is acceptable for an online questionnaire (~13%), given the fact that studies show that the response rate to questionnaires administered by mail varies depending on numerous factors and may fall under 6%.[13] Also, it is well-known that the rate of response to online questionnaires can be 20% lower than to mail-administered ones..[14]

Sample Profile

Among respondents, most of them work in finance (15.2%), textile industry (9.1%), food industry (6.1%) and construction (6.1%). Most of them, 45,2%have been on the market between 21-40 years, followed by those between 11-20 years (29%).

Out of respondents, most of them, 39%, declared that their companies have, followed by those with international coverage of 35%.

In terms of size related to the number of employees, most of them, 35% are medium 33% and big (26%) enterprises.

Most companies (38.3%) recorded in the last financial year a turnover of over one million Euro, followed by companies with a turnover between 300001-500000 EURO (20%). Out of respondents to the questionnaire, most hold management positions of marketing departments (26%), followed by general managers (19%).

Out of respondents, 76% are males, 70% hold a degree, and 27% have a Master Degree.

 

Research Outcomes

In the decision-making within the company, most respondents (90.6%) felt the need for information about domestic competitors, and 85.2% needed information about foreign competitors. The greatest importance is given to data on competition as 72,7% of respondents believe that these are very important. Also, client-related information is viewed as being very important 67,2%, and market-related very important for 66,2% of respondents.

Regarding the department which is in charge with systematic gathering of information important to the company, 56,1% of respondents declared that its is the marketing department and for 28,8% of them i tis research and development.

In 51,5% of cases, respondents declared that the department which is in charge with disseminating business information in their company, is the marketing department, and for 22,7% of companies, it is research and development.

Most respondents, 30,8% that in their companies, just one employee is in charge with systematic gathering of business information. Also, 26,2% declared that 2% of employees are in charge with gathering business information. The dissemination of information is made by one person in (35,4%) and two people in 23,1% of the companies, respectively.

Out of respondents, 29,7% declared that to in their company there is specialized personnel for collecting and analysing business information. Also, 28,6% believe to agreater extent that the manager himself is in charge with collecting and analysing information. Most, 65,1% declared that to a lesser extent, they use consultants and specialized companies in collecting and analysing business information. (Fig. 1)


Figure 1 Company description

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most respondents, 65,6% declared to a great and greater extent, that in a global context, companies have to increase investments in order to protect and promote company interests by means of intelligence.

In terms of the openness of legislation in Romania towards the use by companies of intelligence, 49,2 % declared that it is permissive to a great and greater extent.

I tis also relevant that 15,6% of respondents believe to a great and greater extent that competing companies use intelligence against each other.

Also, 73% believe to a great and greater extent that companies with foreign capital use services of departments specialized in intelligence.

In terms of specialized human resources, 12,3% of respondents believe to a great and greater extent that there are specialized experts in intelligence in Romania.

In terms of manager’s perception of the use of competitive intelligence in their business context, 3,1% of respondents believe that to a great and greater extent Romanian companies use specialized departments in intelligence. (Fig 2)

 

 

 

 

Figure no. 2 Intelligence Affirmations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respondents believe, 34,8%, to a great and greater extent that their comany needs a structure/department for analysing business information. 33.8% of respondents believe to a great and greater extent that a company needs a structure/department for ptotecting business information and an integrated structure for company security.

 

Figure no 3 Structure / department necessary in a company

 

 

 

 


Conclusions

The study reveals that Romanian managers are aware of the importance of intelligence under the pressure of competition, understanding that their companies lack skills necessary for collecting, checking, analysing and using business information. Competition with foreign companies showed that the management of these companies is influenced by a culture of intelligence from countries with functional and efficient market economy, which is based on strong development of specialized literature and also on higher education programs in Competitive Intelligence.

Partial results of this pilot study show that up to now Romanian managers have not been able to develop their companies competitive intelligence skills but to a limited extent. They could use only the resources they have: qualified personnel, money, know how. Now many of them feel the need to hire specialists in business intelligence and believe that graduates of Romanian higher education institutions should already have these skills.

Using the results of our research, we conclude that the introduction of some courses and specialized notions of business information in higher education curriculum could offer long-term-results with little additional cost. Thus, graduates who will complete courses could successfully face the challenges of competitive intelligence of competition and these would allow them to coordinate the informational system of their own companies, contributing at the same time, to protecting the scientific and industrial potential of competitive income and markets.

Bibliography

National Security Agency, 1995 INFOSEC Manual (Ft. Meade, MD: NSA, 1995)

Schwartau, Winn Information Warfare: Chaos on the Electronic Superhighway, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1994

Griffith, S.E., Sun Tzu: The Art of War, Oxford University Press, New York, 1971.

Berkowitz, B.D., Goodman, A.E., Strategic Intelligence for American National Security, Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey, 1989.

Prescott, J., The Evolution of Competitive Intelligence. Designing a process for action, International Review of Strategic Management, 1995, p.16.

Obreja C., Rusu C., Protejarea şi promovarea intereselor firmei prin Intelligence, Editura Expert, Bucureşti, 2009

Maior, George Cristian, Istoricism, legalism şi teoretizare în studiul intelligence-ului, „Revista Română de Studii de Intelligence“, nr.1-2, Institutul Naţional de Studii de Intelligence, Bucureşti, 2009

Kent, S., 1955, The Need for an Intelligence Literature, Studies in Intelligence Vol. 1 (1), pp. 1-11

Kent, S. (1966). Strategic intelligence for American world policy (3rd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kendall, W. (1949, July). The function of intelligence. World Politics, 1(4), 542-552.

Spracher C. William, National Security Intelligence Professional Education: A Map of U.S. Civilian University Programs and Competencies, Publisher: ProQuest, UMI Dissertation Publishing, September 11, 2011

Obreja C , Cucuteanu G., Need for Intelligence of Romanian Managers, 7th DSEBA Conferences, Iaşi, 24-25 May 2013

Tse, A. C. B. (1998). Comparing the response rate, response speed and response quality of two methods of sending questionnaires: E-mail vs. mail. Journal of the Market Research Society, 40(4), 353–359.

Tse-Hua Shih, Xitao Fan, Comparing response rates in e-mail and paper surveys: A meta-analysis, Educational Research Review, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2009, Pages 26-40

[1] National Security Agency, 1995 INFOSEC Manual (Ft. Meade, MD: NSA, 1995)

[2] Schwartau, Winn Information Warfare: Chaos on the Electronic Superhighway, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1994

[3] Griffith, S.E., Sun Tzu: The Art of War, Oxford University Press, New York, 1971.

[4] Berkowitz, B.D., Goodman, A.E., Strategic Intelligence for American National Security, Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey, 1989.

[5] Prescott, J., The Evolution of Competitive Intelligence. Designing a process for action, International Review of Strategic Management, 1995, p.16.

[6] Obreja C., Rusu C., Protejarea şi promovarea intereselor firmei prin Intelligence, Editura Expert, Bucureşti, 2009

[7] Maior, George Cristian, Istoricism, legalism şi teoretizare în studiul intelligence-ului, „Revista Română de Studii de Intelligence“, nr.1-2, Institutul Naţional de Studii de Intelligence, Bucureşti, 2009

[8] Kent, S., 1955, The Need for an Intelligence Literature, Studies in Intelligence Vol. 1 (1), pp. 1-11

[9] Kent, S. (1966). Strategic intelligence for American world policy (3rd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[10] Kendall, W. (1949, July). The function of intelligence. World Politics, 1(4), 542-552.

[11] Spracher C. William, National Security Intelligence Professional Education: A Map of U.S. Civilian University Programs and Competencies, Publisher: ProQuest, UMI Dissertation Publishing, September 11, 2011 (pp. 1-17)

[12] Obreja C , Cucuteanu G., Need for Intelligence of Romanian Managers, 7th DSEBA Conferences, Iaşi, 24-25 May, 2013

[13] Tse, A. C. B. (1998). Comparing the response rate, response speed and response quality of two methods of sending questionnaires: E-mail vs. mail. Journal of the Market Research Society, 40(4), 353–359.

[14] Tse-Hua Shih, Xitao Fan, Comparing response rates in e-mail and paper surveys: A meta-analysis, Educational Research Review, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2009, Pages 26-40

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