Anxious relationships: the unmarked futures for post-normal scenarios in anticipatory systems

Fuller, Ted (2017) Anxious relationships: the unmarked futures for post-normal scenarios in anticipatory systems. Technological Forecasting and Social Change . ISSN 0040-1625

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Anxious relationships: the unmarked futures for post-normal scenarios in anticipatory systems
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Abstract

This article explores organisational anticipation in uncertain times. ‘Anticipation’ is interpreted as a mediating process between knowledge and action, where ‘feed-forward’ is causal. The context for examining organisational anticipation is one of ontological insecurity; raising issues of epistemological and therefore methodological uncertainty. The paper draws on re-emerging areas of study in the futures literature especially with respect to anticipatory systems and post-normal science. Rosen’s 1985 theory of anticipatory systems is not well known, though has received recent attention as part of a growing discourse on Anticipation, for example as a possible discipline and as a form of governance. For Rosen, causality is mediated through a modelling relationship between actor and environment which entails causality, not by the direct effect of the environment on the actor. The paper discusses the implications of this perspective on the role of scenario planning in organisations, which is but one of multiple anticipatory systems at work in the organisation and hence often weak in power. The argument is further developed by considering ‘modelling relations’ which are inherent to active anticipatory systems. The conclusion is that in human social systems in uncertain environments require approaches to anticipation that recognise the multiplicity of modelling relations. One approach to this has been set out in earlier work by Funtowicz and Ravetz (1993), which they called Post Normal Science. The paper concludes by suggesting that the epistemology of anticipatory systems and methodology developed from PNS might be used to reduce Cartesian anxiety with respect to ontological insecurities of uncertain times. In short, the focus should be on modelling relations rather than models. This has radical implications for scenario planning as it is currently conceived and for the framing of scenario methods

Keywords:Strategic Foresight, Scenario Planning, Post Normal Science, Modelling Relations, Futures, Robert Rosen
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N100 Business studies
N Business and Administrative studies > N211 Strategic Management
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:24970
Deposited On:18 Nov 2016 10:00

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