The purpose of this paper is to establish what foresight is, to review past usages and definitions of foresight and to synthesize them into one generic definition, in order to make the concept measurable.
A discussion on how to classify variables in the social sciences serves as the starting‐point. Next, a review of past definitions and usages of the concept foresight is followed by further analysis and then synthesizing of the generic definition. The generic definition is finally compared and contrasted with the related concepts of forecasting, strategic analysis, and intuition.
Foresight is defined as behavior along three dimensions: degree of analyzing present contingencies and degree of moving the analysis of present contingencies across time; degree of analyzing a desired future state or states a degree ahead in time with regard to contingencies under control; and degree of analyzing courses of action a degree ahead in time to arrive at the desired future state.
The article makes foresight quantitatively measurable, which in turn makes it possible to empirically measure the existence of foresight among managers and to test the relationship between foresight and organizational performance.
Practical foresight tools and programs, etc. can now be assessed and compared by both practitioners and researchers.
In identifying three fundamental behavioral dimensions of foresight, the article conceives and advances foresight as a distinct concept that can be related to several research areas, both on individual (e.g. managerial) and organizational levels.
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