Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version



Library Philosophy and Practice 2012



Academic libraries such as other libraries and information centers and organizations operate within the context of two environments- internal and external. Both of these environments are interconnected. Whilst, internal context of library consists organizational structure and functions and the way they are configured in pursuit of specified organizational objectives; each library operates in complex and changing external environments, which frequently produces new challenges which must be controlled to ensure the library’s future survival and success. Their impact is a two-way process. Changes in the external environment affect the organization’s internal environment, whilst decisions made at managerial level will impact upon both the external and internal environment (Bryson, 1990).

Finally, one of the major and important tasks of a manager is the environmental scanning to acquire information and use it to determine the role of the library in its environment, its influence and image, and the services it provides.

The external environment of an organization may be viewed as a source of information, resources, or variation (Choo, 1993b)پايان. External environment is not a collection of other systems and organizations, but it is an active environment. Changes, events and trends in the environment continually create signals and messages. Organizations detect or receive these cues and use the information to adapt to new condition. Dill views the environment as a source of information, and suggests that the best way for analyzing the environment is to treat the environment as information which becomes available to the organization, or the organization may get access via search activity (Dill, 1962). Because information allows management to improve its strategic planning, tactical implementation of program and it’s monitoring and control; in messy environments, having access to timely and relevant information can give a firm competitive advantage. Information perspective indicates that, when managers suppose that.the environment is unpredictable, they feel uncertainty, and this situation occurs, when they feel that they have no information for accurate decision-making (Hatch, 2006); (Dill, 1962).

Another perspective views the environment as a source of resources upon which the organization is dependent. Munificence, or scarcity of resources; Concentration, or the extent to which power and authority in the environment is widely dispersed; and interconnectedness, the number and pattern of linkage among organizations in the environment, are three structural characteristics of the environment that affect resource dependence (Choo, 1993b)پايان. To survive, organizations require resources. Typically, acquiring resources means that the organization must interact with others who control those resources (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978).

The third perspectives based on ecological view in organization studies, developed principally by Hannan and Freeman, and Aldrich. This point of view tries to explain why certain forms (or species) of organizations survive and thrive, while others languish and perish by using evolutionary biology rules (Hannan and Freeman, 1977), (Hannan and Freeman, 1989), (Aldrich, 1979).

A firm’s competitive position, financial success, and even survival depend on its ability to scan, understand and adapt to environmental conditions (Ebrahimi, 2000). In many of related studies, the External environment serves as a great source of strategic information (Daft et al., 1988), (Duncan, 1972), (Lawrence and Lorsch, 1967) and (Tung, 1979). In order to success in formulating the strategy for future, managers and decision-makers need to collect, interpret and utilize information from the external environment. A manager does this importance by environmental scanning. Environmental scanning is the activity of gaining information about events and relationships in the organization’s environment, the knowledge of which would assist management in planning future courses of action (Choo, 1993a); and has been the subject of extensive research such as Aguilar, 1967; Collins, 1968; Fahey and King,1977; Culnan, 1983; Daft et al., 1988; Choo, 1993a; Sawyerr, 1993; Kumar & Yauger, 1994; Litschert, 1994; Yasai-Ardekani & Nystrom, 1996; Boyd & Fulk,1996; Elenkov, 1997; Martinsons,1988, 1997; Ebrahimi, 1997. (Ebrahimi, 2000).

This article reports on how managers of academic libraries of Islamic Azad University (IAU) perceive environmental sectors as important, variable and complex; and how they scan environment. We examine how their perceptions of environmental uncertainty and perceived strategic uncertainty affect amount of scanning activity.



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