Tampere University of Technology

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Text Visualization for Competitive Intelligence

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Original languageEnglish
PublisherTampere University of Technology
Number of pages94
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-2511-7
ISBN (Print)978-952-15-2466-0
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2010
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
PublisherTampere University of Technology
ISSN (Print)1459-2045


The overreliance on quantitative, numeric information and the underuse of qualitative, textual information is a common weakness in strategic management. This affects particularly the practice of competitive intelligence, which aims to provide actionable information about the company-external environment for decision making. Yet, forward-looking and insightful information about the environment often comes in qualitative form, much of it as publicly available text documents, whereas public quantitative information often arrives too late to be useful for strategic management. This thesis proposes that text visualization, and in particular, a method called collocational networks, could increase the use of textual information in competitive intelligence. Collocational networks are networks consisting of words that co-occur in a statistically significant way in a text, or in a collection of texts. They are particularly useful for discovering changes between sequences of texts of a similar nature, e.g. annual or quarterly reports. In line with design science research practice, the proposed method is also evaluated for utility. The evaluation is carried out in two stages. First, collocational networks of quarterly report texts are compared to self-organizing maps created out of the financial figures of the same reports. This evaluation shows that changes in the collocational network of a company’s quarterly report are followed by a change in the position of the company in the self-organizing map in the next quarter. Second, a series of interviews with competitive intelligence practitioners are carried out, in which the interviewees are shown collocational networks created out of annual reports from telecommunications service companies during 2003-2008. This evaluation shows that the interviewees consider the networks to reflect actual developments within the industry. They also consider them to be a useful tool for discovering changes that may go unnoticed when reading the texts. In summary, the evaluations suggest that by using collocational networks, competitive intelligence practitioners could easily have access to forward-looking, qualitative information about the company-external environment to strengthen strategic management practice.

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