Theory and practice in the field of foresight

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Theory and practice in the field of foresight

Emerald Group Publishing Limited
  • Futures Research


Purpose – The paper aims to explore the gap between theory and practice in foresight and to give some suggestions on how to reduce it. Design/methodology/approach – Analysis of practical foresight activities and suggestions are based on a literature review, the author's own research and practice in the field of foresight and futures studies, and her participation in the work of a European project (COST A22). Findings – Two different types of practical foresight activities have developed. One of them, the practice of foresight of critical futures studies (FCFS) is an application of a theory of futures studies. The other, termed here as praxis foresight (PF), has no theoretical basis and responds directly to practical needs. At present a gap can be perceived between theory and practice. PF distinguishes itself from the practice and theory of FCFS and narrows the construction space of futures. Neither FCFS nor PF deals with content issues of the outer world. Reducing the gap depends on renewal of joint discourses and research about experience of different practical foresight activities and manageability of complex dynamics in foresight. Production and feedback of self-reflective and reflective foresight knowledge could improve theory and practice. Originality/value – Contemporary practical foresight activities are analysed and suggestions to reduce the gap are developed in the context of the linkage between theory and practice. This paper is thought provoking for futurists, foresight managers and university researchers.

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