Question:
Is the equivocality of the environment low or high?
  • No answer / Undetermined
  • Low
  • Medium
  • High

Equivocality means confusion and lack of understanding.

Equivocality means that asking a yes/no question is not feasible. You are not certain about what questions to ask about the environment and if a question is posed, the situation is ill defined to the point where a clear answer is not forthcoming. You may not know where the problems are.

When something new happens, new regulations, new technology, and so on, it relates to equivocality. You may not know where your future business is. Also, you may not know your competitors. Equivocality is related to something the organization has not experienced before.

This is tricky because how can you know if there are threats to your business that you do not know about? Some industry situations are more prone to equivocality than others. There can be high equivocality when technology is moving very fast and when ways to use the technology can move in many, but not really predictable, directions. Examples of highly equivocal environments include the internet access industry and the current European Union where enormous regulatory changes are in process for several industries.

In some situations, your industry can be in a high equivocality situation but you may not have clear warning signals of this. You will need to make a judgment call based on what you know about your industry. Don't be too quick in categorizing your situation as non-equivocal. Think about the movie industry when television appeared, or the telex industry when fax machines appeared, or the post office when FedEx was created.

As a pointer, if the technology you use has a lot of R&D, or if the regulatory environment of your industry is very active, or if a new technology has just been reported and could possibly replace existing technologies, choose high equivocality. Some examples include the irradiation of food which can threaten the food preservative industry, or cellular versus conventional telephones, or dish versus cable TV channel access. All these cases call for a high equivocality classification.

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Medtronic case: Environmental equivocality
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