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Reflections on the Canadian Government in competitive intelligence – programs and impacts

Jonathan Calof (Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada, and an Extraordinary Professor at North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa and Leading Research Fellow at the National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 13 March 2017




This paper aims to present a categorization scheme and use it to classify Canadian Government (federal and provincial) competitive intelligence (CI) programs and to also look at the impact of these programs on sectoral and regional economic development.


Based on the author’s 25 years of experience designing, running, and studying Canadian Government CI programs, a classification scheme to classify these programs has been developed and used. Also, by using program review information, this paper looks at evidence for program impact on regional and sectoral economic development.


This paper identifies a broad range of federal and provincially sponsored CI programs aimed at helping both government officers and those outside the department make better decisions. The review identified several roles that the government can play in using CI: creator of CI (both for their own purposes and also for helping Canadian companies), CI environment skills builder (helping Canadian companies develop skills in developing their own CI) and CI partner (working jointly with Canadian companies in developing CI). While there have not been many formal program reviews of the CI programs sponsored by Canadian Government departments and agencies, anecdotal evidence (from training program participant evaluations) and a comprehensive review of a small community CI-based economic development program support positive sectoral and regional economic development results arising from these programs.

Practical implications

CI programs can be used as part of a government’s regional and sectoral economic development approach. CI can be used to assist with decision-making both within and outside the government. This paper identifies several different kinds of programs that can be used to further a government’s economic development agenda.


There are very few articles that examine how governments have helped companies to develop CI and how they have used CI, and none has looked at the impact of these on regional and sectoral economic development. This paper, based on the author’s experiences, provides a view of the Canadian programs and their impact on regional/sectoral economic development.



The article was prepared within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and supported within the framework of a subsidy by the Russian Academic Excellence Project ‘5-100’.


Calof, J. (2017), "Reflections on the Canadian Government in competitive intelligence – programs and impacts", Foresight, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 31-47.



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