Strategic foresight activities in both research and practice aim to identify superior courses of action in situations of future uncertainty and change. While the field has existed for more than 70 years and has its own concepts and methodologies, over time it has incorporated and used many of the theories and methods found in cognate fields, particularly in strategy and innovation management. The reverse is also true as these various areas of study have begun to adopt the frameworks of a maturing foresight field. However, these interfaces are frequently encapsulated and restrained by paradigmatic rigidity. The objective of this article is to raise awareness and build bridges across these parallel but often unconnected fields of research endeavor. In particular, we review traces of foresight in cognate literatures and highlight "forward-looking search" as a promising way to formulate a joint conversation. The papers of the IEEE-TEMS special issue on foresight in strategy and innovation management are introduced, with their particular contributions that echo our call to build bridges across closely associated fields.
There is growing research interest in understanding the impact of search and the evaluation of information on markets, customers, and technologies. If search has an explicit future focus, this paper refers to it as forward-looking search. Previous research has focussed on the firm or innovation portfolio level. Little research has investigated whether forward-looking search practices occur during innovation projects and whether they may contribute towards a project's innovativeness. This paper follows the bounded rationality assumption, which views decision makers as lacking complete knowledge and anticipation of the consequences of their decision. The current study posits that project teams must engage in forward-looking search during project development to ensure their project's innovativeness. However, this paper argues that this is only relevant if there is 1) room in project planning to facilitate forward-looking search, 2) slack resources available to implement such changes, and 3) a dynamic external environment. The data on 159 unique innovation projects from the Danish manufacturing industry show that forward-looking search significantly impacts innovativeness. Furthermore, this study finds that project planning and slack resources moderate this relationship, while industry concentration has no moderating influence. These findings suggest that to increase the innovativeness of projects, continuous forward-looking planning should retain room for flexibility and slack budgets for project adjustment during execution.
Future Preparedness is shown to be a factor strongly influencing mid-term future firm performance, and such preparedness can be achieved via the systematic application of future preparation activities, particularly Perceiving, Prospecting, and Probing, as part of the strategic leadership function.
Corporate foresight is applied with the expectation that it will help firms to break away from path dependency, help decision makers to define superior courses of action, and ultimately enable superior firm performance. To empirically test this assumption, we developed a model that judges a firm's future preparedness (FP) by assessing the need for corporate foresight (CF) and comparing it to the maturity of its CF practices. We apply a longitudinal research design in which we measure future preparedness in 2008 and its impact on firm performance in 2015. The results indicated future preparedness to be a powerful predictor for becoming an outperformer in the industry, for attaining superior profitability, and for gaining superior market capitalization growth. In the article, we also calculate the average bonus/discount that can be expected by sufficiently/insufficiently future-prepared firms. Keywords: corporate foresight, future preparedness, firm performance, behavioural theory of the firm Highlights • We developed a model for assessing the future preparedness of a firm. • We assessed future preparedness by comparing the need for and the maturity of corporate foresight practices. • We found that future-prepared firms (vigilant) outperformed the average by a 33% higher profitability and by a 200% higher market capitalization growth. • Conversely, firms that had deficiencies in their future preparedness were faced with a performance discount of 37% to 108%.
In times of discontinuous change, even large, successful organizations can find themselves in life-threatening situations. On many executive boards, a major issue is building organizations that are robust enough to handle to discontinuous change and agile enough to renew their portfolio of strategic resources. This article defines and describes a maturity model of organizational future orientation (OFO), which allows the measurement of the ability of an organization to ensure long-term success and survival. Building on 19 case studies and more than 100 interviews with managers of strategic management, innovation management, corporate development, and corporate foresight, we identify five dimensions and 20 elements that combined capture OFO. By defining four maturity levels for each element, we provide a framework that can be used for benchmarking, improving, and designing OFO practices. We hope that this article will serve as a starting point for a much-needed discussion on how to build more robust and agile organizations. This article also contributes to dynamic-capabilities theory by defining barriers and a process model that illustrates how the elements of OFO need to be combined to create the ability to identify and acquire needed strategic resources. Furthermore, the article shows how OFO contributes to organizational ambidexterity by enhancing the ability to identify discontinuous change and develop radical innovations.
For over 40 years, scenarios have been promoted as a key technique for forming strategies in uncertain environments. However, many challenges remain. In this article, we discuss a novel approach designed to increase the applicability of scenario-based strategizing in top management teams. Drawing on behavioural strategy as a theoretical lens, we design a yardstick to study the impact of scenario-based strategizing. We then describe our approach, which includes developing scenarios and alternative strategies separately and supporting the strategy selection through an integrated assessment of the goal-based efficacy and robustness. To facilitate the collaborative strategizing in teams, we propose a matrix with robustness and efficacy as the two axes, which we call the Parmenides Matrix. We assess the impact of the novel approach by applying it in two cases, at a governmental agency (German Environmental Ministry) and a firm affected by disruptive change (Bosch, leading global supplier of technology and solutions).
Strategische Frühaufklärung ist ein Managementkonzept, das durch die Identifikation schwacher Signale eine Möglichkeit bietet, Veränderungen im unternehmerischen Um- feld zu erkennen und frühzeitig auf diese zu reagieren. Qualitativ hochwertige Frühauf- klärungsaktivitäten und die dadurch gewonnenen Informationen befähigen Unterneh- men, die Zukunft aktiv zu ihren Gunsten zu gestalten. Die vorliegende Studie untersucht, wodurch sich Strategische Frühaufklärung in beson- ders erfolgreichen Großunternehmen auszeichnet. Zu diesem Zweck wurden 83 Unter- nehmen hinsichtlich ihrer Frühaufklärungsaktivitäten befragt. Die anhand eines quanti- tativen Forschungsdesigns erhobenen Daten wurden auf Basis eines praxiserprobten Benchmarking-Modells für Strategische Frühaufklärung ausgewertet. Die nach einem wirtschaftlichen Maß erfolgreichsten 10% der Unternehmen innerhalb der Teilnehmer- gruppe wurden zur Gruppe der „Top Performer“ zusammengefasst, deren Ergebnisse im Rahmen dieser Studie als Benchmark dienen. Die Studie zeigt, dass die auffälligsten Unterschiede zwischen den Praktiken erfolgrei- cher und weniger erfolgreicher Unternehmen insbesondere im Aufbau, dem Erhalt und der Nutzung unternehmensinterner und -externer Netzwerke bestehen. Top Performer nutzen ihre Netzwerke zur Gewinnung exklusiver Informationen und verankern das Ziel zu deren Aufbau und Erhalt in ihrer Unternehmenskultur. Es zeigt sich auch, dass die Strategische Frühaufklärung bei den Top Performern stärker zur Visionsgenerierung, d.h. für die langfristige Strategieentwicklung eingesetzt wird. Hierzu müssen adäquate Seite 48 René Rohrbeck, Sarah Mahdjour Methoden eingesetzt werden, die einen unternehmensweiten strategischen Dialog unter- stützen. Methoden wie die Szenarioanalyse und Roadmapping spielen hier eine wichtige Rolle. Aber auch der gezielte Einsatz von Fokusgruppen zur Erarbeitung von Strategien wird durch Top Performer verstärkt genutzt.
In this article we want to give our answer to the question about if and how corporate foresight can increase the likelihood that we move toward sustainability – both on a company and a societal level. We propose a framework that links barriers to sustainability with corporate foresight methods that can be used to overcome these barriers and support the transition toward a more sustainable future.
Multinational companies are increasingly exploring new methods and tools to identify disruptions in the environment and are using this information for competitive advantage. The European Conference on Strategic Foresight is a forum of professionals for benchmarking and advancing Strategic Foresight practices. This paper summarizes the results of the 1 st European Conference on Strategic foresight held in December 2007 in Berlin, Germany. Three major outcomes can be highlighted: Firstly the participants proposed a mission, goals and a modus operati for future conferences. Secondly they identified "barriers" and "promotion mechanisms" for Corporate Foresight. And thirdly the practitioners identified 8 topics for further advancement of Corporate Foresight practices and they can be used by researchers to direct and focus their research activities.
In this paper we explore the current understanding on how firms explore future changes and trends as well as plan their managerial responses. We review literature in four research streams: (1) environmental scanning, (2) futures research, (3) peripheral vision, and (4) corporate/strategic foresight. Through the analysis of more than 250 articles we (a) trace the evolution over time, (b) highlight the linkages between the different research streams, and (c) give recommendations for future research. Overall we call for more cross-fertilization of the different research streams and a stronger linkage to adjacent research disciplines. Through such integration and linkage research should produce better recommendations for managers on how to build an organizational future orientation, drive organizational adaptation, and make their firms robust towards external discontinuous change.
The front end of innovation has earned the adjective ‘fuzzy,’ particularly as it is considered unstructured, non-linear, and highly iterative (Khurana and Rosenthal 1998; Koen et al. 2001; Verworn et al. 2008). But this should not be misunderstood as a need to rely on hope or chance encounters to drive innovation. Beating competition in the innovation game will require developing the abili-ties to innovate on the basis of early signals in trends, involve internal and external partners in discussing insights into the future, and to build an organization that is able to grasp opportunities in a timely manner. This is by no means easy for any firm, and to make matters worse, building foresight capabilities involves working partly against organizational reflexes that are useful and critical. For example, the critical ability to focus on the current business can easily be damaged if the firm engages excessively in scanning its environment and entering new fields of business. Thus, building corporate fore-sight capabilities will always imply an important balancing act.
While the competitive dimension plays an important role in strategy, the aspect of competitors seems to be rather neglected in corporate foresight. In this paper we want to shed some more light on this underexplored field of corporate foresight. The literature review discusses approaches in corporate foresight, in particular scenario planning and business wargaming, which address competitive dynamics. Further, literature on competitive strategy is discussed to assess approaches towards the identification of new rivals. One can conclude that there is an absence of structured approaches or frameworks towards the competitive dimension in corporate foresight. In the paper an illustrative case study is discussed, with a first attempt to provide a framework for structuring the competitive dimension in corporate foresight.
This paper focuses on exploring the potential and empirically observable value creation of strategic foresight activities in firms. We first review the literature on strategic foresight, innovation management and strategic management in order to identify the potential value contributions. We use survey data from 77 large multinational firms to assess how much value is generated from formalized strategic foresight practices in these firms. We show that it is possible to capture value through an enhanced capacity to perceive change, an enhanced capacity to interpret and respond to change, influencing other actors, and through an enhanced capacity for organizational learning.
We examine to what extent successful business-development activities in uncertain environments can be classified as corporate foresight (CF) and to what extent they have been intentional and systematic. Beginning with identifying successful cases of new-business development in Bottom of the Pyramid markets, we use various data sources to reconstruct timelines and map CF activities. We selected the cases to maximise their heterogeneity in firm size, industry, nature of the product and ownership structure. Our findings suggest that the probing (experimental search) phase is particularly important in unknown and uncertain environments but that perceiving and prospecting (cognitive search) activities are necessary to find distant opportunities. In addition, we find that successful business-development activities rely on multiple iterations between perceiving, prospecting and probing. Our findings emphasize that CF should include activities that encompass both experimental and cognitive search elements.
To ensure long-term competitiveness, companies need to develop the ability to explore, plan, and develop new business fields. A suitable approach faces multiple challenges because it needs to (1) integrate multiple perspectives, (2) ensure a high level of participation of the major stakeholders and decision-makers, (3) function despite a high level of uncertainty, and (4) take into account interdependencies between the influencing factors. In this paper, we present an integrated approach that combines multiple strategic-foresight methods in a synergetic way. It was applied in an inter-organizational business field exploration project in the telecommunications industry.