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The depth of the horizon: searching, scanning and widening horizons

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PurposeThis essay aims to introduce horizon scanning as an approach fundamental to most foresight studies. Design/methodology/approachThe essay combines a general review of the topic with an overview of a range of horizon-scanning approaches that are in use in the UK health system. FindingsDifferent approaches ‐ shorter as well as longer-term, searching as well as broad scanning ‐ are appropriate in different circumstances. In times of systemic change it is necessary to combine approaches of all types. Research limitations/implicationsOnly a small sample of the huge range of horizon-scanning exercises has been studied, and the essay has not gone far into the question of how horizon-scanning relates to other elements of the foresight process. Practical implicationsThe implication is that horizon-scanning should be undertaken on a routine basis, and should be integrated into planning activities from the start. Social implicationsHorizon-scanning is a tool needed in activities such as planning for the workforce, and for health and safety issues. Originality/valueThe essay covers a wide range of activities with real-life illustrations in addition to overall assessment.

Keywords: Forecasting; Forward planning; Health services sector; Human capital; Plans; Strategic planning

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-11-02

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