The cultural contradictions of managing change: using horizon scanning in an evidence‐based policy context

Wendy L. Schultz (Director based at Infinite Futures, Oxford, UK.)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Publication date: 1 July 2006



The purpose of this article is to identify points of conceptual conflict between evidence‐based policy research and horizon (environmental) scanning.


The paper begins with a brief history of foresight in UK government, then describes the current government context for horizon scanning. Next, it defines horizon scanning as a method; highlights the contradictions between horizon scanning and more traditional empirical research; and offers suggestions to improve the rigor of horizon scanning.


Increased focus on defining the rules for source identification and scan data validation can enhance credibility.

Research limitations/implications

Current horizon scanning work in the UK government suggests these methodological improvements, but proof will wait upon completion and deployment of several ongoing horizon scans.

Practical implications

Provides improved acceptability and dissemination of horizon scanning as a tool, as well as heightened engagement of policy‐makers, planners, and leaders with horizon scanning output.


There has been little previous work exploring the cultural constraints on adoption of horizon scanning within the evidence‐based polity context.



Schultz, W. (2006), "The cultural contradictions of managing change: using horizon scanning in an evidence‐based policy context", Foresight, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 3-12.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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