Theory of and within foresight – “What does a theory of foresight even mean?”

Kalle Piirainen, Rafael A. Gonzalez

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    Abstract

    There has been an argument for a while now that foresight lacks a coherent theoretical basis. The discussion on theory of foresight calls for a theory, but rarely expounds on what the scope of theorizing is. The discussion has been centered on philosophy and different frameworks for theorizing, but the scope and form of theorizing have not been explored. We contribute to this discussion by examining foresight through the lens of established theory building literature to map what constitutes a theory in the first place and how it applies in foresight. The main guiding question is “What does a theory of foresight mean?” We fist draw on the literature on theory development in social sciences to discuss a framework for theorizing and then examine the scope of theorizing through it. Our main argument is that when we propose developing (a) theory of foresight, we need to separate three levels of analysis: one is foresight as knowledge creating activity, second is foresight as a process and as a social/organizational intervention, and foresight as theorizing about the future of a given socio-technical system.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
    Volume96
    Pages (from-to)191–201
    ISSN0040-1625
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Keywords

    • Foresight
    • Theorizing
    • Theory development
    • Epistemology

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