The study aimed to identify the core defining dimensions and descriptors of Competitive Intelligence (CI) to provide a unified view and approach. The authors used a mixed-methods approach to derive meta-inferences from the sequential integration of quantitative and qualitative methods. Five defining core dimensions and one hundred descriptors, twenty for each dimension, were identified. The integrated dimensions provide a consistent definition and understanding of CI. More precise definitions result from cascading down the meaning of the dimensions into the descriptors, from complex to simple concepts. Grouping the descriptors allows for more concise explanations without loss of precision. A unified definition establishes the body of knowledge of the discipline and advances business and science. It also supports the establishment of the CI profession and professional identity and serves as a guide for the effective establishment of the CI function. The development of CI theory has a significant impact on CI culture and may enable the society to address one of the greatest current challenges, information overload. CI education can only thrive if a clear definition and understanding is possible.
- Mixed methods
- Theory building