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 2: Anticipating Critique and Occasional Reason: Modes of Reasoning in the Face of a Radically Open Future

David Seidl and Dominik van Aaken


David Seidl and Dominik van Aaken Introduction Despite the importance that is generally placed on the investigation of the future, our understanding of the phenomenon of strategic foresight is still rather limited. Traditionally foresight has been framed in terms of extrapolating from past experiences. Such an approach, however, as Ansoff (1975, 1980) and many others have argued, is completely inadequate in the field of strategy, where the focus is less on continuity than on discontinuity. If people base their view of the future exclusively on past experiences, they will not be prepared for new strategic threats or opportunities, which by definition mark a break from the past. Strategic discontinuities are thus systematically out of sight. Particularly in our times of increasingly turbulent environments with accelerated and fundamental changes such approaches are proving more and more inadequate (see Waterhouse 1992; Ansoff and Sullivan 1993; D’Aveni 1994; Kirkbride et al. 1994; Bettis and Hitt 1995; Lombriser and Ansoff 1995). The faster and the more radically the world changes, the more important does it become for organizations to sense discontinuities as early as possible in order to leave enough time for appropriate reactions. As such, strategic foresight is mostly conceptualized as the ability to pre-sense discontinuities; in particular by being open to so-called ‘weak signals’ (Ansoff 1975, 1980; Seidl 2004), which point to impending discontinuities. The classical example here is that of the petroleum crises in the 1970s, which could have been foreseen if the organizations had been more responsive to the...

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