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 16: The Role of Middle Managers in Enabling Foresight

Laura A. Costanza and Vicky Tzoumpa


Laura A. Costanzo and Vicky Tzoumpa Introduction Hamel and Prahalad (1994: 82–3) in their groundbreaking book Competing for the Future state that foresight is more than a vision. While a ‘vision connotes a dream’, industry foresight goes beyond a simple vision, as ‘it requires a deep understanding of the current trends’ in society. They argue that without a solid factual foundation in the current trends a vision is going to remain fantastical. We agree with Hamel and Prahalad’s view of foresight and conceptualize foresight as a learning process, which enacts the future by a mechanism of ‘probing and learning’, an evolving process as managers’ sensemaking of the future evolves over time (Costanzo, 2004). In start-up companies, managers’ attention to the unfolding events occurring across the industries’ boundaries is critical as managers are exposed to a wide range of information, through which they can develop sensemaking of arising market opportunities or new market gaps to fill (Hamel and Prahalad, 1994; Kim and Mauborgne, 1999). Moreover, the knowledge of the current trends is useful to build managers’ confidence in their sensemaking of the future. In established companies, this outside perspective (market based) is complemented by an inside perspective (resource based) which posits that the existence of limited structures helps people to make sense of a fast-changing environment. Semi-structures can help people to get an understanding of the environment and build the confidence to make quick decisions (Brown and Eisenhardt, 1997). Also, it is argued that a stable top management...

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