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Foresight and anticipatory governance

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PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to lay a theoretical basis for discussion of the ways by which organized foresight can be employed in the service of pro-poor objectives. This is in line with the fundamental mandate of the Rockefeller Foundation, dating from its establishment. Design/methodology/approachThe objective was to capture concepts that the author has been developing and teaching under the heading of "Forward engagement". Forward engagement is a particular approach to anticipatory governance, drawing upon complexity theory for assessment of issues requiring government policy; network theory for proposed reforms to legacy systems of governance to enable them to manage complexity under conditions of accelerating change; and cybernetic theory to propose feedback systems to allow ongoing measurement of the performance of policies against expectations. For more detail, visit FindingsThe paper sketches out some core elements of a system for anticipatory governance. Originality/valueIn addition to the primary findings of forward engagement (see web site), this paper argues that foresight and anticipatory concepts can play a vital role, not only for governance in the United States, but for governance in developing countries: perhaps even more so, because such countries have narrower margins for response to significant changes of circumstance.

Keywords: Complexity theory; Forward planning; Governance

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 17, 2009


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