Foresight and anticipatory governance

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Abstract:

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 www.forwardengagement.org. 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

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/14636680910982412

Publication date: July 17, 2009

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