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Does anticipation matter for public administration? The case of the Walloon Region (Belgium)

Maxime Petit Jean (Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium and Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium)
Sébastien Brunet (Walloon Institute for Evaluation, Prospective and Statistics (IWEPS), Namur, Belgium, and Professor at the Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium)

Foresight

ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 12 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims at analysing the relationship between anticipation and public administration based on a case study focusing on a specific public agency in charge of knowledge production for policymaking.

Design/methodology/approach

It is based on a case study methodology: anticipatory practices of a public organisation are critically assessed based on data that originates from public documents and from participant observation within the concerned agency.

Findings

Several dimensions impact the interrelation between anticipation and public administration. First, the organisational set-up is decisive in fostering the development of specific type of anticipatory activities. Second, it confirms a common finding that policymakers are oftentimes more interested in ready-to-use results than in processes of future thinking. And third, it shows that distinctive anticipatory practices can rely on very different networks and, therefore, have different degree of maturity.

Research limitations/implications

The use of a case study, unfortunately, may lead to a lack of generalisability. The authors therefore encourage researchers to test their propositions further.

Originality/value

Nevertheless, the originality of the paper is its central focus on anticipation within public administration – a topic that has not received much attention or study by academics or researchers. Anticipatory practices have been studied at a more general level, but not necessarily in particular public sector environments, which also have their own particular constraints.

Keywords

Citation

Petit Jean, M. and Brunet, S. (2017), "Does anticipation matter for public administration? The case of the Walloon Region (Belgium)", Foresight, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 280-290. https://doi.org/10.1108/FS-10-2016-0049

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited