The ‘futurity paradox’ and the future-oriented nature of sustainability-related action

Recently scholars of political economy and in economic sociology have paid renewed attention to the question of how economic actors cope with the problem of a fundamentally uncertain future. There have been increasing calls to put – as stated by Braun (2015) – “the future-oriented nature of economic discourses and practices at the centre of …

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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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Rethinking the received wisdom on ‘foresight’ practices

Early in my PhD studies I reviewed the literature on so-called ‘foresight’ practices such as on scenario-building, scenario-based planning, and techno-economic modelling. What came through clearly is that there is a dominant set of ideas about these practices. These ideas can be termed the received wisdom. These ideas include that foresight methods and practices are …

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The management of expectations, ‘temporal work’, and the functions of fictional expectations in structuring action in the present

Recently I’ve been reading some papers in which sociologists take the uncertainty and indeterminacy of decision situations (such as most decision situations in economic contexts) as a key starting point for their analysis and theory-building. For example, because of the fundamental uncertainty that characterises many decisions in economic contexts Jens Beckert argues that the decision-making …

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