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Edited by Laura Anna Costanzo and Robert Bradley MacKay
Chapter 25: Strategic Foresight and the Role of Organizational Memory Within a Punctuated Equilibrium Framework
25 Strategic foresight and the role of organizational memory within a punctuated equilibrium framework* Stelios C. Zyglidopoulos and Stephanie W.J.C. Schreven Worlds on worlds are rolling ever From creation to decay Like the bubbles on a river Sparkling, bursting, borne away. (Shelley, in Whitehead, Modes of Thought, 1938: 45) Introduction According to Whitehead (1938), strategic foresight is the capacity for establishing appropriate generalities and anticipating future developments. Therefore, he continues, strategic foresight is the crucial feature of a competent business mind, and, we might add, functions as a valuable and decisive characteristic of an organization’s ability to successfully deal with the future. However, despite the importance of the matter in terms of understanding the conditions under which strategic foresight enables organizations to successfully navigate uncertainties and capitalize on changing future conditions, it has not received adequate attention within the strategic management and organization theory literatures. In this chapter, drawing on the appropriate literatures, we develop a conceptual model that addresses the role that organizational memory plays in a ﬁrm’s capability for strategic foresight, within a punctuated equilibrium framework. Strategic foresight, as an organizational capability, refers to an organization’s ability to conceptualize novel developments and anticipate them (Whitehead 1938; Slaughter 1998; Tsoukas and Shepherd 2004). In other words, an organization’s capability to engage in strategic foresight has two aspects to it. The ﬁrst refers to an organization’s ability to conceptualize novel developments, which depends on its understanding of the situation, and its ability to engage in speculative imagination, whereas the second...
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