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Exploring the future through creative competition: the RWS2020-project

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PurposeThis paper aims to argue that utilising foresight becomes a more useful tool to organisational management, if the innovative technique of "creative competition" is applied. In an empirical analysis, it seeks to show how the technique of creative competition was used in a scenario-project. The case study shows how and why the technique of creative competition "worked". These findings will then be used to explore the broader application of creative competition in organisational foresight. Design/methodology/approachThe study first elaborates theoretically on the difference between "forecast" and "foresight" and explores how the addition of the organisational dimension to these terms changes their meanings. It then focuses on the organisation that commissioned the study ‐ Rijkswaterstaat ‐ and describes its history with respect to exploring the future and certain other relevant contextual elements of the case study, such as how the project was organised. After that, it conceptualises the RWS2020 project as an example of using "organisational foresight" and discusses the concept of "creative competition" as a means of bringing "organisation" and "foresight" closer together. The paper then describes what creative competition was used in the case, how it worked in the case study, and how "the game" of creative competition was played. It formulates conclusions on the basis of this case study and then reflects on the findings. FindingsApplication of creative competition adds to the integration of foresight in organizational management and organizational change. It supports a more future orientedness in strategic management. Further analysis of other cases is needed to further strengthen theory about application of the method of creative competition. Originality/valueThe technique of creative competition is relatively new and has not been theorized as yet. Organizational foresight has been used as a concept, but has hardly been theorized and empirically tested as well. The paper does both, in an exploratory way. It provides interesting insight into the working of organizational foresight for both academics and practitioners, and identifies strategic choices for managers conducting organizational foresight studies with or without the use of creative competition.
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Keywords: Competitive strategy; Creative thinking; Organizational change; Organizational planning; Strategic management

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-08-31

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