Anticipatory Governance: Traditions and Trajectories for Strategic Design

In 2012 I was invited to set up a “foresight for public policy” course at the Lee Kuan Yee School for Public Policy (at the National University of Singapore). As part of this job I did a review of as much public policy and governance lit as I could in the area, in an attempt to make sense of it all and present something coherent to students (we all learned how to use the RAHS system / software as well, which was valuable). What emerged was an understanding of 7 key traditions and trajectories for anticipatory governance. Initially course material for the unit, it took me a while to bring it together into an article. But here it is finally, hot off the press.

The hope is that this will assist foresight practitioners, management science, governance and policy designers to get a quick grasp of the available strategies, and bring these together into context appropriate designs to embed foresight functions into governmental and other organizations. Here is an overview of the paper:

Over the course of the last half century, a number of practices were developed that connect foresight with governance. From the early development of technological forecasting and anticipatory democracy, to municipal and regional (local) approaches and futures commissions, to the more recent development of transition management, integrated governmental foresight, and to the cuttingedge in networked/crowd sourced approaches, traditions and discourses that link foresight and governance have evolved considerably. The purpose of this article is to review these various traditions and discourses to understand the context within which different approaches can be valuable, and expand the basis by which we can develop Anticipatory Governance strategies. Not all strategies are appropriate in all contexts, however, a major proposition in this paper is that we can design strategy mixes that can combine a number of traditions and discourse in creative ways that allow practitioners to address complex, fuzzy and wicked challenges that singular approaches would have a harder time addressing successfully.

Access here:

This research was funded by the Singaporean government in conjunction with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. I would like to thank colleagues and that made this research possible. I would like to thank the two reviewers for their feedback, as well as Professor Jim Dator, who provided valuable suggestions.

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