Explaining the outcomes of prospective knowledge practices: what influences whether scenarios (or other outputs) are used?

The use and, perhaps more frequently, non-use of the outputs generated by prospective knowledge practices is a big issue discussed by many people who conduct these activities. As one person I interviewed this week put it, you don’t want the end result/product to just be yet another report sitting on the shelf gathering dust! This …

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Reflecting on my personal journey – from ‘foresight’ practices to the sociology of prospection?

(NOTE: This was originally written in my PhD journal but I’ve decided to post it here as I’d welcome thoughts and general feedback on the idea of developing a ‘sociology of prospection’) Increasingly I use the term prospection in my research and work. Psychologists use this term to refer to “our ability to ‘pre-experience’ the …

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In dynamic, uncertain situations is it a bad idea to try to look far ahead?

Management professor Richard Rumelt has made the following interesting argument: Many writers on strategy seem to suggest that the more dynamic the situation, the farther ahead a leader must look [i.e. into the future]. This is illogical. The more dynamic the situation, the poorer your foresight will be. Therefore, the more uncertain and dynamic the …

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On the too little considered, but crucial, politics of prospective exercises

This aim of this post is to develop an initial outline of some of the politics of prospective exercises – both ‘small p’ politics such as the exercising of power to influence such studies, the findings, and use of the outputs; and broader Politics related to how such activities are often conducted and used in …

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Reconsidering the theoretical foundation of prospective practices (PART 3): the causal logic of interventions and achieving transformative change

Prospective practices often try to change the course of change, not just anticipate or predict change. However, the underlying causal logic of such interventions tends to be under theorised and/or remains mostly tacit. In the evaluation literature this causal logic is often termed the “intervention theory”, or the “program theory”, or underlying “theory of change”. …

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Reconsidering the theoretical foundations of prospective practices (PART 2) – a field theory perspective

In this post I consider the theory of “social fields” developed by two influential American sociologists, Neil Fligstein and Doug McAdam, drawing principally on their book A Theory of Fields (Oxford University Press, 2012). A Theory of Fields offers “a general theory of social change and stability rooted in a view of social life as …

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Reconsidering the theoretical foundation of prospective practices (PART 1)

Authors of papers on prospective practices often take one of two stances: 1) they argue that these are learned crafts (and certainly not a science), and question the need for greater theorisation or greater use of theory; or 2) they, increasingly, question whether they have an adequate theoretical foundation, point to gaps, and/or try to …

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