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

  • Elgar original reference

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 5: Strategic Foresight: Counterfactual and Prospective Sensemaking in Enacted Environments

Robert Bradley MacKay

Extract

5 Strategic foresight: counterfactual and prospective sensemaking in enacted environments Robert Bradley MacKay Introduction In a 1989 testimony to the United States’ Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology, the 1978 Nobel Laureate in economics, Herbert Simon, argued that the distinction between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sciences can be misleading. Inquiry into the functioning of competitive markets or into the capacity of human short-term memory is hard because these processes are well researched and understood. They have come to form part of the corpus of knowledge considered to be common sense. Inquiry into how business people and consumers formulate expectations about the future is soft because it is an underresearched phenomenon. A science that is hard all the way through becomes an arid place for furthering knowledge. For science to progress, he postulated, it must push its frontiers into soft areas (Simon 1990, p. 33). Sensemaking has become one of the signature domains of research in the study of strategic management. While having its roots in the cognitive sciences, in strategic management it refers to the social processes that people use to make their environment sensible (Weick 1995, p. 16). It is portrayed as a retrospective, multifaceted phenomenon whereby managers focus on certain cues in their environment and place them in schematic frameworks (Weick 1995; Brown 2003; Maitlis 2005). It differs markedly from other information processing models advanced by social and cognitive psychologists working from a positivist tradition. Where Simon (1957), for instance, advances a notion of information processing as...

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