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Foresight styles assessment: a valid and reliable measure of dimensions of foresight competence?

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PurposeThe foresight styles assessment (FSA) was regarded as an important empirical measure and dimension of a strategy level leader's dominant and back-up styles of engaging with matters related to anticipating the future. The measure is also associated as a dimension of foresight as a leadership competence. This study seeks to determine the validity and reliability of the revised FSA as proposed by Gary. Design/methodology/approachA quantitative two-step methodology was adopted as a pilot study preceding the main study in which a web-based survey methodology was used. The sample consisted of 298 strategy level leaders. Data were analysed using advanced statistical analysis techniques including factor analysis and structural equation modelling. FindingsThe FSA's four factors; tester, adapter, framer and reactor, were confirmed but did not display uni-dimensionality. Analytical results confirmed the validity and reliability of the measure, and the structural equation model illustrated good model fit. The reactor factor was determined to be a method factor and theoretical concerns could be raised regarding whether the reactor factor describes a foresight style. Future research of a summated three-factor scale (excluding the reactor factor) is suggested and should include strategy-level leaders, especially in more diverse populations, investigating further, the nomological validity and reliability of the scale. Research limitations/implicationsOwing to the purposive non-probability sampling technique the sample results are not generalisable. However, the statistical results are rigorous and significant in terms of determining the validity and reliability of the measure. Further research of a summated three-factor (tester, framer, adapter) scale amongst a more diverse population is suggested. Practical implicationsWhile some notable studies have been conducted, futures studies research generally lacks validated and reliable quantitative measures related to the foresight construct. As suggested by Inayatullah, the importance of understanding the value free observations of the empirically observable is required to meaningfully conduct deeper analysis of social issues. The findings of this research has implications in the study of foresight by providing empirical grounds for further exploratory research, and providing rigorous evidence supporting the use of the foresight styles assessment especially as a three-factor summated scale. Use of the scale is not limited to foresight studies, indeed it can and has been applied to broader leadership cognition and strategic management studies yet to be reported. Social implicationsConsidering that foresight is regarded as an innate human characteristic and the need for social foresight may never have been higher, understanding a basis of measuring the construct may have significant implications in terms of further social science research and social foresight development. Originality/valueIn terms of measuring a broader construct of foresight competence, the rigorous validation of a measure to enable further interpretive, exploratory and critical research is important. To the author's knowledge, using structural equation modelling techniques in futures studies is very rare if at all. The study further contributes to the development of a rigorous measure that may facilitate significant foresight/futures studies/leadership and management future research.
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Keywords: Emergent strategy; Foresight competence; Foresight styles assessment; Forward planning; Leaders; Strategy level leaders; Structural equation modelling

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-08-24

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