The starting point of this analysis was the importance of early warning, i.e. scanning and interpretation, for organizations. The anticipation of future trends is an important asset to survive. Based on literature and the resulting gap of research four research questions were deduced:
How do CEOs of medium-sized companies design their early warning behavior?
Do contingency variables influence the early warning behavior of CEOs of medium-sized companies?
What is the relationship between the early warning behavior of CEOs of medium-sized companies and the success of early warning of medium-sized companies?
What is the relationship between the success of early warning of medium-sized companies and their overall economic success?
To answer these research questions an empirical analysis was conducted across the five most important sectors of the German manufacturing industry. Based on the definition of the European Union of ‘Mittelstand’, organizations with a size of 50 to 249 employees were chosen as objects for analysis. For these organizations early warning is already relevant and they are influenced by their CEOs to a high degree. A questionnaire was sent to 4,500 CEOs of German medium-sized companies. From the responses 597 questionnaires could be used for the empirical analysis which corresponds to a return rate of 13.3%.