Developing Foresight Capability at William Rainey Harper College 14

Scanning and Monitoring the External Environment

Conceptually, the external environment can be subdivided into three components: the market environment, the industry environment, and the macroenvironment. The market environment refers to customers (for example, students and potential students, parents of students and of potential students, political leaders, employers and potential employers of students, professional associations of faculty and administrators). This environment is specific to a particular institution. Thus, although the task environments of a community college and a research university within ten miles of each other may overlap, they also differ.

The industry environment comprises all enterprises associated with higher education. At this level, trends such as the number of institutions that require entering students to own computers or the percentage of faculty members using multimedia materials in their classes affect all institutions, although the effect of these factors varies depending upon the type of institution (research or comprehensive, two- or four-year).

The macroenvironment focuses on changes in the social, technological, economic, environmental and political (STEEP) sectors that could affect colleges and universities directly or indirectly. These sectors are interrelated. Changes in one sector at any level (local, national, global) may lead to changes in another. A war in the Middle East may cause the price of oil to increase, thus stimulating a recession, which in turn results in budget cuts. Technological developments in California that enable the conversion of wind power to low-cost energy may be introduced worldwide, thereby reducing the costs of fossil fuel energy, with concomitant economic ramifications. Thus