Abstracts for the FuMee IV

Abstracts for the FuMee IV workshop in Copenhagen 5-6 December 2011
As received per November 1
Extended Causal Layered Analysis (ECLA)
Roberto Poli
While Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) is a major Futures Studies theory, CLA requires a number of
extensions, namely: (1) a more articulated series of levels of depth; (2) integration with horizontal
analysis addressing forms of structuration; (3) a more nuanced analysis of social time, which cannot
be limited to comparable durations. This paper will exploit ideas elaborated by the almost forgotten
sociologist Georges Gurvitch (1894-1965) and propose a threefold extension of CLA, which will be
called Extended CLA, or ECLA.
Striving after a thin/thick present foresight ambidexterity
Pierre Rossel
Futures studies is the field of making assumptions and claims regarding the future so as to produce
presumably useful information or suggestions, possibly a form of knowledge, on what may happen
further on, by using, so as to reach that outcome more or less agreed upon, methods as means to
making these assumptions or claims more convincing, if not robust. In this process, the meaning of
such basic tool words as “now”, “present”, “past”, “next”, “further”, “future”, etc. are themselves
bearing a certain level of flexibility in their usage and are fundamentally constructs that help us
represent our reality and hopefully constituting a step to better act in it as a result of that capacity.
This is performed individually, but also socially, with a constant confrontation or negotiation
activity to transform percepts and models into action, meaning, learning, agreements or changes.
The thin- or thick-present tension is one of the operators of that basic interaction. As a matter of
fact, the present does not exist per se, but through certain perceptions that are organized into
meaning and socially disputed for consensus, power effects and forceful changes or on the contrary
mean but temporary interpretative agreements. A thin-present view will infer that things can change
almost any second, even in situations or regimes that seem to be heavily persistent. On the contrary,
a thick present approach will link in the time ahead of a referential present, which can be implicit or
vague, a series of events, actions, processes, or even changes, as being the obvious prolongation of
the present configuration serving as reference.
We cannot live asking ourselves every second what will take place the next one; instead, we make
assumptions, we use models, we learn, individually and socio-culturally, in a way that simulates the
option of the near future, and maybe also not so near, according to the problem at stake, being
predictable, sufficiently at least to trigger efficient action. However, living only under this kind of
assumption- and model-based faith regarding the future, will lead ineluctably, at some point in the
time to come, to be off track and maybe dangerously so.
There is no short-cut recipe of how to shift safely from a thick present approach to a thin present
one and engage in the specific analytical capabilities to get oriented in particular transitions, just as
there is no easy way on how and when to decide exploring thin present implications while being
enjoying the benefit of a thick present regime. We must learn how to be good for both thin and thick
views on the present and be also capable of passing swiftly from one to the other. From a future
studies perspective, we must also become more experts at analyzing how we do that, what the
constraints are, as well as the domain-linked variability of this ambidexterity, the reliability of our
conclusions upon a specific exercise of thin-thick back-and-forth journey,through the
confrontational evaluation stag ( i.e. the meta-level, always involving the possibility of biases),
and finally, coping with the open-endedness of some of these reflexive moves.
An important aspect of the thin/thick operator is the examination of the leeway which we can
observe inany construction (or social construction) of how we conceive and self-represent our
reality at any given moment and project ourselves into the future, either leading to a thin-present
induced form of imagining options or as part of a thick-present and more expectable sequence. This
leeway is determined by factors or dimensions themselves part of the great futuring game: imperfect
knowledge, complexity, boundary-object issues and open-ended ness of learning, creativity and
design, all of them subjects to considerable variations according to the domains or types of
problems at stake. The thin/thick present operator therefore represent a chance to create a
stimulating distance regarding any mundane or critical topic, as it forces us to move towards more
explicit, evaluative and reflexive undertakings when it comes to exploring or casting futures.
Advancing/defending a thin present hypothesis
Riel Miller
This paper tries to develop a framework or set of assumptions/descriptions that would sustain the
idea of continuous emergence as "thin present" information. Partly this arises from a sort of 'law of
thermodynamics' type question about the "conservation" of information and the conditions for a
universe that in the end is just time/space data - that is either novel, reproduced or no longer present
(but perhaps remembered for a while). In part this line of inquiry was provoked by an intriguing
experience at a workshop where participants were asked if knowledge is destroyed or dies, many of
them said no! I thought it was self-evident that knowledge needs to be recallable or imminently
producible in order to not disappear and hence much information and knowledge disappear, vanish
into nothingness - a loss of information in the universe. Which then raises the questions - are we in
a growing or shrinking informationverse? And what might the determinants be of more or less
overall information - more sources of emergence? Is this one of the human impacts on the universe
- our conscious creativity? Is hierarchy and statistics a way of destroying information while
heterarchy and uniqueness preserve or expand information?
Interpretations, reflections and performances as thick presents
Ulrik Jørgensen
From the invention of mechanical time the present has tended to be reduced to an infinitesimal point
representing the meeting of past and future. This has left natural sciences with a mechanical
universe in which causality and observational objectivity has lead to several contradictions not
easily explained within the infinite mechanical system of exact time.
This paper will not deal in length with these problems resulting from the mechanical time but
instead reflect on what is named social time, at least for a first entrance into the problems related to
defining a present. The outset is taken in the human reflection of past and present implies a
continuous process of re-interpretation and re-interlinking of different observations and experiences
all based on the idea of singular event and still being occupied by re-ordering and reflecting on
these. The present can based on this not be defined by mechanical time as a vanishing meeting point
but as a continued process of making sense of and building a bridge between contemporary
observations and past experiences. This implies a process of interpretation that builds on projections
and anticipations of how to assess and make interpretations of events. This even though the more
experienced person will often be well aware of how the ‘events’ makes sense is dependent of the
actual situations and established framings involved.
The ability to assess and project trajectories from the past is consequently completely dependent of
the conditions under which the frames and anticipations are created and the ability of the involved
actors (in the broadest meaning of this within theories of socio-material interdependency like ANT)
to maintain a stable performance of the involved anticipatory, structured relations.
The paper will further engage with the consequences of such and approach that does not exclude the
potential of anticipatory structured relations (systems), but questions how these emerge and become
temporarily stabilised in shorter or longer timeframes.
Researching the ephemeral: anticipation of value as cause of social action
Ted Fuller
This paper continues the ’emergence’ perspective that characterises my contributions to Fumee over
its short history.
The 2010 contribution was to consider that ways of thinking about the present and futures in a
’creative’ milieu needed to be different from in an ’informational’ milieu and that particular
emergent properties related to particular ontological or constructed aspects of experienced reality,
e.g. problems., strategy, ontological security, meaning etc. It also suggested that the anticipation of
value was a stabilising power in relation to emergent unstable forms produced through social
Taking the theme of this workshop as thickness and thinness of the present, the question of the
depth of ’value’ and ’values’ is considered, as according to previous work as described above, the
anticipation of value is a defining feature of an anticipatory social system. Linked to this idea is to
consider research methodology approaches to ’researching the ephemeral’ from Critical Realist and
Actor Network perspectives. (I hope)
Thick descriptions: Using literature to make sense of the present and to develop foresight
Jan Oliver Schwarz
When developing foresight, it is essential to consider the information on which this activity is
based. Weak signals, also conceptualised as trends, can be considered the most relevant input for
developing foresight in an organization. While detecting weak signals has traditionally relied on the
news media, cultural products such as literature, movies or computer games appear to have been
However, some literary genres such as novels can be a valuable source for developing foresight.
Following Clifford Geertz, literature can be characterised as delivering “think descriptions”,
relating here to the notion of thick presents. Not only do novels describe social practices, but the
reader also gains, for instance, deep insights into the feelings and emotions of the characters.
These thick descriptions are even more interesting in the context of foresight when one considers
that these descriptions play a role in the construction of social reality and therefore become, over
time, reality, or rather translate fiction into fact. It can be argued that the new departs from cultural
products, before translating into widely accepted social practices or mass-market products. The
value of using literature in foresight appears also to be related to the notion that these narratives can
be read as scenarios, further pointing out to the potential of literature, because of their narrative
structure, to overcome cognitive barriers in developing foresight.
Building on a method developed around the question how to develop foresight based on literature,
the paper will discuss the thick descriptions of William Gibson's novel Spook Country and will link
these descriptions to the diffusion of the so-called augmented reality technology.
Critical Thinking in Thick Present
Esmaeil Abdi
At the first look to how to emerge the changes in the future seems that the past events lead to the
present behaviors and afterwards these behaviors cause to future changes. In this trilogy, future
changes leading to the formation of the behaviors and attitudes that these evince the new changes.
It should be noted that the acceptance of this trilogy, means to reject the authority of human kind- as
the major actor in the creation and management of global changes– in his life to choice his
behaviors. In other words to accept this trilogy, questioning the trying to train and educate people to
do the correct and good behavior while it is clear that humankind has authority to do any things
even doesn`t desire to do it. So human behaviors not necessarily stem from past events and though
the past events affect to current human think and manner, but he can do many things to achieve to
individual or social goals that have no connection with his past.
As briefly mentioned above, the certain relation between past events and present events especially
in social phenomena is undermined and in this way whereas the present and the future, become
respectively, past and present, it is also not a definite link between present and future events. – It
may be argue as the reason of the existence concepts such as alternative futures or mention to
improve the freedom and welfare of humankind as most general purpose of futures studies instead
of forecasting the future events in futurists thinking such as Wendell Bell.
In fact in a classification based on the creators of changes in the world, can be expressed three main
driving factors for social change as:
1. The Human: Such as revolutions, like that is happening now in the Arabic countries and many
experts did not predict it.
Such changes that have great role in the life of governments and nations, they happen mainly by
people and no factors can stop these changes for a long time because the people want these. The
human based changes have various impacts on economic, social, political and also scientific
2. The Nature: Such as earthquakes.
No people has role in occurrence of these changes but he can resists against such accidents and
reduces the impacts by technologies, such as building adamant buildings.
3. Man and Nature: Such as floods (as the result of the forces of nature combined with human
activities like deforestation for timber trees and global warming caused by increasing greenhouse
gases and thereby melting ice and rising sea levels), which can lead to forced migration.
There are different views about the importance of each of these factors and their role in the world
changes. For example in a natural scientist's opinion climate change has most important role in
affecting the world, but a sociologist or a political scientist believe that the first batch of changes
that are caused directly by human is more important. To clarify the importance of social change
than other types of changes we must attention to the Social Sciences and the central role of these in
human life, for example in the Waldo view, he defines Public Administration (as a social science)
as a science that is associated directly with life and happiness.
Now that the human authority in his behavior causes to complexity in understanding and predicting
future events, so I think that futurists should be focus on to enrich the people to think and to work in
present and in future According to what that decision makers want and consider in the public or
private sector; It means that they must pay attention to the education of the people through various
means to ensure the doing correct and good behavior. So what the decision-makers at different
levels should think about for management changes and events in the future is nothing unless focus
on determine the desirable future and plan for educational programs through various means such as
curriculum, TV programs and etc. to shape human behavior in order to achieve the desired
objectives. The summary said that the three characteristics of the human being, ability to think,
having authority to do in his life and also has a major role in social and natural events in the world,
all planning and decision making activities at the present time should be focuses on human and
training people in order to shaping future events and overcome on the complexity and uncertainty in
futures studies.
So to avoid the chaotic and sudden changes we must manage human behavior as the main source of
change. It should be noted:
1. According to the human inherent characteristics, he resist on the compulsory force that it want to
change his behavior.
2. Apart from the diversity between people in nationality and religion they have many similar
values and believe such as freedom of opinion, humanity and etc.
3. Changing in human behavior needs to time and sectional program with several phases.
The result of these actions can be summarized in the following:
1. The possibility of integrated global planning for global management;
2. Sustainability of the programs;
3. Reduce social unrest and possible shocks.
Coping with Futures: Strategic foresight versus corporate foresight
Lykke Margot Ricard and Sergio Jofre
For a long time dealing strategically with the future has been a practise both at the corporate level as
well as politically. Over this period of time, the conceptual and methodological development of
foresight has been broaden, giving birth to a considerable broad variety of methods to support
decision- and policy-making at public and private organizations, notably in connection to strategic
planning activities. Although addressed indistinctly, two main different contextual and
methodological traditions have emerged from the theory and practice of foresight in connection
with technology development, that is to say ‘corporate foresight’ and ‘strategic foresight’.
The former in connection with the private institution focusing on the management of emerging
technologies and on the firms’ future strategic environment (e.g. Schwarz, 2008; Cuhl and Johnston
2006, Burmeister et al, 2004;Godet, 1987), and the later in connection with the development of
science and technology and the governance of national systems of innovation (Georghiou and
Keenan, 2006; Grupp and Linstone, 2000).
In this conceptual article we are explicitly addressing the gap between theory and practice of
strategic foresight. Könnölä et al (2008) emphasize that rationales of foresight in EU policy have
changed since the 80’ties: from a tool of assessing R&D prioritizing in the 1980¨ties (Irvin and
Martin 1984) towards both participatory and systemic at the same time (Carola & Rolfo 2004). This
provides an explanation of a focus from the conventional technocratic technology-driven
forecasting practice towards emphasizing the important elements of stakeholder participation and
networking (as in Martin and Johnston 1999: foresight for wiring up innovation systems). Könnölä
et al. (2008), Smits & Kuhlmann (2004), points at strategic foresight as a function to prepare for the
future, not only to identify promising technologies, but to engage key-stakeholders in turning
common visions into action plans. With such recent state of the art narratives on what strategic
foresight is, the inclusion of stakeholders in a broader sense is changing the rules of the game or the
game is changing the rules and the hypothesis may be that strategic foresight is evolving into a
more dynamic strategic environment adopting foresight practise from the corporate world or has the
dichotomy between the two never really existed in practice?
To illustrate the conceptual development of those two ways of coping with future in this article
within an analytical framework, we apply and further discuss the ‘social constructionist’ approach
suggested by Fuller and Loogma (2009). Subsequently, the approach is used to identify and
characterize different narratives to construct futures in the foresight practice at the European
Technology Platforms programme, a keystone initiative within the EU innovation strategy. Data is
based on the recent study of foresight activities at the European Technology Programme by Ricard
(2011) of the emerging technology carbon, capture and storage technology, and on the recent case
study of an international relations perspective on the global politics of carbon capture and storage
by de Coninck & Bäckstrand (2011). The study implicitly, builds on a qualitative case study
approach (e.g. Yin, 2003), were findings are derived through a process of inference and ‘sensemaking’ as suggested in the model of Weick et al. (2005), and discussed within the context of a
review of relevant literature.
Preliminary findings, conclusion and discussion:
Evidently strategic foresight policy processes are evolving into a more dynamic strategic
environment adopting foresight practise from the corporate world, thus a common vision, strategic
research and a market deployment plan as illustrated in studies on the European Technology
Platforms, possible aiming to align industrial innovation effort with public and political interest.
Secondly, globalization is making politics complex, thus creating a new role for international
institutions to articulate narratives on what is future technologies e.g. the IPCC played a pioneering
role in articulating CCS as a “transition technology” in climate change abatement.
Thirdly, as Metcalf pointed out in 1988 technologies do not compete, firms compete; ...” and they
do so as decision-making organizations articulating a technology to achieve specific objectives
within in a specific environment”. This is no stranger to articulating certain technologies to be keytechnologies in the SET-Plan (the Strategic Energy Technology Plan) of the EU Commission, set to
achieve certain objectives in certain sectors. Such participatory foresight processes concerning
public policy processes are strongly related to inter-subjectivity in constructivism. Meaning that the
question to what social good knowledge in a strategic foresight is produced is highly relevant for
the contextual use of its legitimacy.
Burmeister, K., Neef, A., Beyers, B. (2004). Corporate Foresight. Unternehmen gestalten Zukunft,
Murrmann, Hamburg
Cuhl, K. Johnston, R. (2006). Corporate future-oriented technology analysis. anchor paper
presented at the Second Seville Seminar on Future-oriented Technology Analysis: Impact of FTA
Approaches on Policy and Decision-making, IPTS, Seville
de Coninck, H, Bäckstrand, K. (2011). An International Relations perspective on the global politics
of carbon dioxide capture and storage. Global Environmental Change 21, 368-378.
Fuller, T., Loogma, K. (2009). Constructing Futures: A Social constructionist perspective on
foresight methodology. Future 41, 71-79
Georghiou, L., Keenan, M. (2006). Evaluation of national foresight activities assessing rationale,
process and impact. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 73 (7):761-77
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resurrection and new paradigms. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 60 (1)
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years. Macmillan, New York
Könnölä, T., Scapolo, F., Mu, R., Desruelle, P. (2008). Future-oriented Technology Analysis in
Security and Sustainability: Impacts and Implications on Decision-making. Third International
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decision-making. Seville 16-17 October 2008
Martin, B.R. (1995). Foresight in science and technology. Technology Analysis & Strategic
Management, 7 (2)
Ricard, L.M. (2011). Triple Helix sector roadmaps: the case of the European Technology Roadmapprocesses as to bring R&D closer to market. In: proceedings, 9th International Triple Helix
Conference, 11-14 July 2011, Stanford University, CA, US
Schwarz, J.O. (2008). Assessing the future of futures studies in management. Futures 40(3): 237246.
Yin, R.K., (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. 3rd ed., Sage Publications,
Thousand Oaks, CA, US
Weick, K.E., Sutcliffe, K.M., Obstfeld, D., (2005). Organizing and the process of sensemaking.
Organization Science, 16(4):409-421
Temporal Categories and Organisational Transitions - Applying Mead’s theory of the
present on change processes
Jan Erik Karlsen
Background: the social construction of the present
Arguably, the time element in studies of organisational change has been poorly theorised, even
though some contributions try to connect change and temporality (Adam 1995; Engelstad &
Kalleberg 1999). This may seem strange since time dimensions and time conceptions are inevitably
connected to change. Change takes time.
Carpe Diem (Cras)! - seize the day (of tomorrow). The phrase embeds both an attitude that «today»
represents both present and future. The occurrence of today entails options and possibilities that
have not yet emerged and visualized, but should be exploited. However, does the present exist in
the real, physical world, in our imagination or have we just constructed it in our own picture? Is the
present something ephemeral that passes us and which does not exist other than as a departing point
for a decision or a thought about what the future might bring? In that case, what is the (diminutive)
duration of the present? Is it possible, on a chronological time line to depict a point which we may
call «the present»? Or is it just the past and the future which give meaning to us? The past as a
category of what we actually did do or did not do, and the future as a concept that take in the unused
and open options?
May «the present» present itself in thin and thick versions, depending upon what we think about it
and how we act upon it? Thin if it only represents the starting point of an action and thick if it also
includes activities, thoughts, ideas and events which we affix to a chronological unit of certain
duration? Why do we need «the present» as a concept or as a construction of mind at all? What are
the implications for our theories on (organisational) change if the present tense does not exist, or if
everything is just present?
Theoretical puzzle
Classical contributions from the social sciences deal to a certain extent with the concept of the
present. On the other hand, organization theory does only to a minor degree discuss temporal
concepts, even though all organizing implicitly activate both time conception, time allocation and
phasing of activities (e.g. «timing», Albert 1995). It may seem that the discipline is unconsciously
anchored in a linear perception of time and therefore jumps other temporal categories as premise for
processes that govern both organisational stability and change.
Mead (1932), analyses in his «Philosophy of the Present» how people and organizations adjust and
calibrate themselves to their social environment and how these adjustments impact on the
development processes. He describes different phases in such a change process; becoming and
appearing, emergence, creativity, reasoning, communication and continuing adjustment, and how
these concepts are linked. He is engaged by the idea that change may appear by the emergence of
something new which we experience, here and now.
The way Mead understand time, especially his view that all change is happening instantly but
requires time (i.e. duration) and adjustment, we also find in the more modern concept of
«punctuated equilibrium». This means that changes in an organisation during long periods of time
happen slowly such that the structure and processes seemingly appear as stable. Then something
happens that rocks this balance and the organisation will shift between balance and imbalance. The
pattern we have today will suddenly represent a mismatch for tomorrow (Tushman & Romanelli
1985, Gersick 1991). Mead argues that the relationship between past and present is some kind of a
meeting of opposite or different events, much like what Greenwood og Hinings (1996) describe as a
alteration between different archetypes. To sum up, we may say that punctuated equilibrium and
this exchange between organizational varieties represent an emergence and surfacing of something
novel and original. Arguably, it represents an event stemming from a social construction of «the
Even if some authors (cf. Zaheer et al. 1999) have pointed out that the critical specification of time
and time scales often lacks in theory and research on organizations, very few contributors actually
try to address the issue. It is presumed either as unsolvable or being perceived as something natural
or intrinsically embedded which does not need to be analysed and explicated. Using Mead’s theory
of «the present», this paper discusses different views on temporal perceptions to understand
transitions and change between organisational systems (Flaherty & Fine 2001). In Mead’s
perspective «the present» entails duration; it retains the receding past and anticipates the imminent
future. This twinkling and instantaneous interval, representing the most transient and fleeting aspect
of time, is seen by Mead as locus of the reality. To understand ourselves, our organisational scene
and the interaction in which we engage we have to chain the moments together as a continuous
lapse where the present, future and past penetrate each other, says Mead. Although it is short-lived
and difficult to catch (Jenkins 2002), this kind of temporal extension may be coined our «thick
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