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2018 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

8. What Scenarios Are You Missing? Poststructuralism for Deconstructing and Reconstructing Organizational Futures

Authors: Ricarda Scheele, Norman M. Kearney, Jude H. Kurniawan, Vanessa J. Schweizer

Published in: How Organizations Manage the Future

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

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Abstract

For organizations, the main rationale for exploring possible future developments is the imperative to sustain achievements and further progress towards organizational objectives. Deep uncertainty about the future, however, means that those hypothetical future developments are products of organizations’ sense-making processes. Much effort in organizational and methodological research is focused on questions that look into the future, to explore the possible future contextual environment for organizations (scenarios) and to draw out implications. However, less attention is often paid to how methodological choices for developing scenarios influence the way organizations make sense of their future.
This chapter presents a research methodology for critically examining organizations’ sense-making processes that also points to a more reflexive way of exploring organizations’ scenarios. Here, the responsibility of both researchers and practitioners is not only to ask how concrete future developments may affect an organization but also to inquire how the notion of a particular possible development made its way into an organizational scenario, how a set of alternative scenarios would look without it and what other possible developments have been excluded. Such critical reflections on the assumptions and practices that have shaped the development of alternative scenarios are common under poststructuralist thinking, which has often been derided as ‘impractical’ in that its critiques exclude actual scenario development processes. However, we argue that investigating organizational futures from a poststructural perspective is of practical relevance: the methodologies that an organization uses to make sense of the future ultimately shape the kinds of scenarios that an organization accepts as plausible and actively prepares for.
To bridge the gap between the worlds of scenario development and poststructural critique, we introduce Cross-Impact Balance Analysis (CIB), a method of inquiry that not only has the potential to operationalize critical, poststructuralist reflections, but is also capable of integrating those reflections back into organizations’ scenario development processes to improve how organizations address the deep uncertainty about their future.

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Footnotes
1
Foucault (1977) describes this relationship as giving rise to ‘regimes of truth’ that are reproduced by societal or organizational practices, shaping what is accepted as true and thereby influencing what is done. Inayatullah’s ‘politics of the real’ is closely related to this concept.
 
2
As a fifth concept, Inayatullah proposes ‘genealogy’, which suggests a more ‘historic’ perspective on paradigms, trends and categorizations. Due to word constraints, this concept is not elaborated in our chapter.
 
3
Early hints of the potential for a poststructuralist methodology can be seen in Zwicky’s principle of ‘negation and construction’, which parallels our pairing of deconstruction with reconstruction.
 
4
Intuitive Logics can be applied deductively and/or inductively (van der Heijden 2005). In the deductive approach, one or multiple axes are used to explore contrasting future possibilities, whereas the inductive approach develops networks of factors from which scenarios can emerge. Further enhancements of Intuitive Logics are reviewed by Wright et al. (2013a).
 
5
See Nakicenovic et al. (2000, Figure 1–4).
 
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Metadata
Title
What Scenarios Are You Missing? Poststructuralism for Deconstructing and Reconstructing Organizational Futures
Authors
Ricarda Scheele
Norman M. Kearney
Jude H. Kurniawan
Vanessa J. Schweizer
Copyright Year
2018
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74506-0_8

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