Handbook of Research on Strategy and Foresight
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Handbook of Research on Strategy and Foresight

Edited by Laura Anna Costanzo and Robert Bradley MacKay

Drawing together a collection of 29 original chapters, the Handbook makes an invaluable contribution to theory and practice by stimulating disciplined, rigorous and imaginative enquiry into the relationship between strategy and foresight. Leading scholars in the field of strategic management are brought together to offer innovative and multi-disciplinary perspectives on the past, present and future of strategy formation and foresight. In so doing, they challenge research in four key areas: strategy and foresight processes; strategy innovation for the future; understanding the future; and strategically responding to the future.
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Chapter 1: Redefining Strategic Foresight: ‘Fast’ and ‘Far’ Sight via Complexity Science

Bill McKelvey and Max Boisot


1 Redefining strategic foresight: ‘fast’ and ‘far’ sight via complexity science Bill McKelvey and Max Boisot Introduction The only thing that gives an organization a competitive edge – the only thing that is sustainable – is what it knows, how it uses what it knows, and how fast it can know something new! (Prusak, 1996, p. 6) It is important to set the competitive circumstances within which we study processes leading to strategic foresight. Good strategy is no longer just picking the right industry; it is being at the right place in the industry – at the cutting edge of industry evolution – new technology, new markets, new moves by competitors. For firms in high-velocity environments (Eisenhardt, 1989), emphasis needs to shift from the competitive dynamics of industry selection and interfirm competition to intrafirm rates of change (McKelvey, 1997). As high-velocity product life cycles and hypercompetition have increased (D’Aveni, 1994), speed of knowledge appreciation has become a central attribute of competitive advantage (Leonard-Barton, 1995), as has organizational learning (Barney, 1991; Argote, 1999). Seeing industry trends (Hamel and Prahalad, 1994) and staying ahead of value migration (Slywotsky, 1996) are also valued. Porter (1996) emphasizes staying ahead of the efficiency curve. Dynamic ill-structured environments and learning opportunities become the basis of competitive advantage if firms can be early in their industry to unravel the evolving conditions (Stacey, 1995). Much of the concern about human capital appreciation bears on high-technologybased industries (Leonard-Barton, 1995). Eisenhardt and colleagues have focused on ‘high-velocity’ high-tech firms for...

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