To read this content please select one of the options below:

Foresight and anticipatory governance

Leon S. Fuerth (Research Professor of International Affairs based at The Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 17 July 2009




The purpose of this paper is to lay a theoretical basis for discussion of the ways by which organized foresight can be employed in the service of pro‐poor objectives. This is in line with the fundamental mandate of the Rockefeller Foundation, dating from its establishment.


The objective was to capture concepts that the author has been developing and teaching under the heading of “Forward engagement”. Forward engagement is a particular approach to anticipatory governance, drawing upon complexity theory for assessment of issues requiring government policy; network theory for proposed reforms to legacy systems of governance to enable them to manage complexity under conditions of accelerating change; and cybernetic theory to propose feedback systems to allow ongoing measurement of the performance of policies against expectations. For more detail, visit


The paper sketches out some core elements of a system for anticipatory governance.


In addition to the primary findings of forward engagement (see web site), this paper argues that foresight and anticipatory concepts can play a vital role, not only for governance in the United States, but for governance in developing countries: perhaps even more so, because such countries have narrower margins for response to significant changes of circumstance.



Fuerth, L.S. (2009), "Foresight and anticipatory governance", Foresight, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 14-32.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles