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Article

Mohammadali Baradaran Ghahfarokhi, Ali Mohaghar and Fatemeh Saghafi

Higher education and universities have faced unprecedented and ubiquitous changes. The University of Tehran or “UT,” as the leading university in Iran, is not immune to…

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education and universities have faced unprecedented and ubiquitous changes. The University of Tehran or “UT,” as the leading university in Iran, is not immune to these changes. The purposes of this study is to investigate the current situation and future of the UT and gain insights and possible responses to changes that suit its strengths and potential to progress in an increasingly competitive, complex environment with uncertainties. It identifies deep fundamental underpinnings of the issue and highlights them for policymakers to formulate strategies and future vision of the UT.

Design/methodology/approach

Causal layered analysis (CLA) was applied as a framework and the data collected from different sources such as literature reviews, content analysis of rules, regulations and master plans of the university and coded interviews of four different groups of university stakeholders were analyzed. The current system of UT, as well as hidden beliefs, that maintains traditional perceptions about university was mapped. Next, by applying a new recursive process and reverse CLA order, new CLA layers extracted through an expert panel, the layers of CLA based on new metaphors to envision future of UT were backcasted.

Findings

The results from CLA layers including litany, system, worldview and metaphor about the current statue of UT show disinterest and inertia against changes, conservative, behind the times and traditional perceptions, and indicate that the UT system is mismatched to the needs of society and stakeholders in the future. The authors articulated alternative perspectives deconstructed from other worldviews so there are new narratives that reframe the issues at hand. The results show that to survive in this fast-paced revolution and competition in higher education, UT should develop scenarios and formulate new strategies.

Research limitations/implications

The authors had limited access to a wide range of stakeholders. As the UT is a very big university with so many faculties and departments, to access a pool of experts and top policymakers who were so busy and did not have time to interview inside and outside of university was very hard for the research team. The authors also had limitation to access the internal enactments and decisions of the trustee board of the UT and the financial balance sheets of the university.

Originality/value

In this paper, by mixing different methods of futures studies, the authors have shown how to move forward while understanding the perspectives of stakeholders about the future of UT by a new recursive process and reverse CLA order. A supplementary phase was added to improve CLA and to validate the method and results, which were ignored in previous studies.

Details

foresight, vol. 20 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

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Article

Marcelle Holdaway

Social and environmental accountability by firms can be compromised by a lack of democracy within community engagement and decision-making processes. This is particularly…

Abstract

Purpose

Social and environmental accountability by firms can be compromised by a lack of democracy within community engagement and decision-making processes. This is particularly evident in potential conflict situations such as with unconventional gas (UCG) extraction. Dialogic engagement sits within dialogic accounting theory and offers a potentially valuable contribution to democratisation. This study aims to contribute to dialogic engagement as practice through the application of critical futures theory and methodology, causal layered analysis (CLA).

Design/methodology/approach

CLA was applied in field research firstly in interviews and then in a workshop setting involving participants with diverse perspectives on UCG. The workshop was planned around activities designed to: implement dialogic engagement as practice, critically unpack views on the present and future of UCG and energy needs through CLA; and evaluate the usefulness of the methodology.

Findings

Findings suggest that CLA enables access to multiple, complex and nuanced perspectives and facilitates, a deeper understanding of participants own views and of other differing views in relation to UCG, 1) a deeper understanding of participants own views, and of other differing views in relation to UCG, 2) a deeper analysis in the identification of key themes in discussions around UCG, and, 3) the identification by participants of “preferred futures” and “uncertainties” concerning energy needs.

Practical implications

CLA is a valuable tool for undertaking genuine community engagement and has wide-ranging application, one example being with interviews and focus groups. Moreover, with the inclusion of diverse perspectives, options and solutions emerging for consideration are increased. This in turn provides opportunities for creative decision-making through scenario identification and strategic development that potentially give rise to transformative possibilities.

Social implications

CLA may well assist in moving firms, and indeed civil society, closer to reaching preferable social and environmental outcomes.

Originality/value

This cross-disciplinary research applies an innovative approach and methodology, taking democratic engagement to new depths.

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Article

Joseph Voros

To outline and present a generalised scheme for using “layered methods” in foresight work.

Abstract

Purpose

To outline and present a generalised scheme for using “layered methods” in foresight work.

Design/methodology/approach

A number of different approaches to “layering” in futures studies and foresight work are examined and synthesised into a generalised scheme. The place of layered methods in foresight work is also examined, and the role of perceptual filters in interpretation is discussed.

Findings

A schema of four major “strata”, each potentially containing multiple sub‐layers, is developed. The strata range from, for example, short‐term trends in the shallowest level, through to long‐term macrohistorical forces at the deepest level.

Practical implications

The generalised scheme enables the practitioner to progressively move to greater levels of understanding as new layers of meaning are uncovered or constructed, as appropriate to the specific nature of the particular foresight engagement. The scheme also represents a template from which purpose‐built interpretive frameworks can be constructed, as needed, in foresight processes and work.

Originality/value

This paper provides a new, generalised and integrated approach to the use of interpretive frameworks in foresight work.

Details

Foresight, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

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Article

Marcelle Holdaway

As a key element of corporate accountability, social and environmental accounting (SEA) has failed to yield significant results in terms of firms embracing goals other…

Abstract

Purpose

As a key element of corporate accountability, social and environmental accounting (SEA) has failed to yield significant results in terms of firms embracing goals other than financial profitability. Influenced by the work of critical accountants on dialogic accounting, the study rejects binary frameworks and aims to contribute to an essential element of SEA, stakeholder engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

Business concerned with unconventional gas (UCG) extraction was chosen from numerous vehicles suited to examining multiple views on contested issues. The research explores perspectives expressed by community, while also including perspectives of one gas firm. Research is viewed through the lens of critical futures theory and methodology causal layered analysis (CLA) in the analysis of the interviews at the case study site in Australia. In addition, to broaden the understanding of “accountability”, participants captured their own views through images that they interpreted in the interviews. This methodology is known as photovoice.

Findings

Findings suggest that CLA enables access to multiple, complex and nuanced perspectives and various ways of knowing, some of which are less conscious.

Research limitations/implications

Accessing multiple perspectives, including marginalized voices, gives rise to the potential to then collaboratively develop a more inclusive set of solutions to critically examine, and the CLA methodology appears to provide a fuller story, address “blindness” and enable a clearer “seeing”. This suggests access to new understandings. These two potentials should be further explored through follow up research.

Practical implications

This practice-based methodology involving civil society could provide SEA accounting practitioners with a greater range of possibilities; they would therefore benefit from incorporating “CLA thinking” as a basis in developing a pluralist, democratic and transformative approach to stakeholder engagement.

Social implications

The study is an initial contribution in an ambitious task of democratizing accounting and accountability.

Originality/value

The study addresses a gap in accounting and accountability research by applying a critical futures theory and a practice-based method.

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Article

Mohsen Mohammadi, Mohammad Rahim Eivazi, Gholam Reza Goudarzi and Einollah Keshavarz Turk

Various theoretical studies were carried out which attempted to identify impacting factors of cultural changes; however, these studies ignored the correlation among other…

Abstract

Purpose

Various theoretical studies were carried out which attempted to identify impacting factors of cultural changes; however, these studies ignored the correlation among other affecting factors all together. In this paper, the authors aim not only to discuss the hidden layers that trigger the cultural changes but also to answer the questions of how to identify the main factors in each layer based on casual layered analysis (CLA), which could have a strong impact in shaping other layers’ factors? What are the dominant metaphors and worldviews that human beings are telling themselves about our universe that influences the future cultural changes?

Design/methodology/approach

To answer the questions of “how to identify the main factors in each layer,” the CLA methodology was used to investigate the underlying reasons. CLA takes into account four layers (litany, social systems, dominant discourse and worldviews and metaphors), which could be a tremendous help in identifying the mentioned factors.

Findings

The analysis shows that there are some contributing factors such as economy, technology, politics, society, environment, mass media, globalization and migration at the second layer – “social systems layer” – which may trigger cultural changes in first layer “litany”; in addition, in the third and deeper layer two dominant worldviews – materialist/secular and religious affecting the contributing factors in the second layer – were identified. Such worldviews are, in turn, supported by metaphors or perfect stories/myths of the deepest layer.

Originality/value

It can be concluded that because the cultural changes as a reality is composed of different layers, it is important to dig into different layers of reality to comprehend the significant shaping factors of that reality to visualize and make the better future.

Details

foresight, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

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Article

Tahereh Miremadi

The paper aims to complement the six pillars analysis with the multi-level perspective to make it more systematic and policy relevant.

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to complement the six pillars analysis with the multi-level perspective to make it more systematic and policy relevant.

Design/methodology/approach

Take the innovation system foresight as the exemplar; the paper asks if the other systemic approaches to innovation can function as the middle range theory and underpin critical future studies. To answer, the paper combines the six-pillar approach (SPA) with the multilevel perspective (MLP) and builds “transitional foresight”. Then it takes the fourth pillar; transitional causal layered analysis and applies it to a case study: water stress in Iran. The paper concludes noting that in transitional foresight, the borderlines, the players and the orientations of the foresight are clearer than the six-pillar analysis.

Findings

The SPA and MLP-integrated framework make a powerful research instrument for transitional foresight.

Research limitations/implications

The paper applied the integrated framework to a case “water system in Iran”. But the framework should be applied in different cases in different countries to test its applicability.

Practical implications

The suggested framework can be used as a heuristics for the students and researchers who want to engage with the emancipatory perspective of the six-pillar approach and need to have an academic methodology with rigor and granularity.

Originality/value

The six-pillar approach of Sohail Inayatullah and the multilevel perspective of Geels can combine to make a powerful heuristic for transitional foresight.

Details

foresight, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

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Article

Sohail Inayatullah

Based on a report to the non‐profit organization, The Foundation for the Future, this article aims to review methodological approaches to forecasting the long‐term future.

Abstract

Purpose

Based on a report to the non‐profit organization, The Foundation for the Future, this article aims to review methodological approaches to forecasting the long‐term future.

Design/methodology/approach

This is not an analysis of the particular content of the next 500 or 1,000 years but a comparative analysis of methodologies and epistemological approaches best utilized in long‐range foresight work. It involves an analysis of multiple methods to understand long‐range foresight; literature review; and critical theory.

Findings

Methodologies that forecast the long‐term future are likely to be more rewarding – in terms of quality, insight, and validity – if they are eclectic and layered, go back in time as far as they go in the future, that contextualize critical factors and long‐term projections through a nuanced reading of macrohistory, and focus on epistemic change, the ruptures that reorder how we know the world.

Research limitations/implications

The article provides frameworks to study the long‐range future. It gives advice on how best to design research projects that are focused on the long‐term. Limitations include: no quantitative studies were used and the approach while epistemologically sensitive remains bounded by Western frameworks of knowledge.

Practical implications

The article provides methodological and epistemological guidance as to the best methods for long range foresight. It overviews strengths and weaknesses of various approaches.

Originality/value

This is the only research project to analyze methodological aspects of 500‐1,000 year forecasting. It includes conventional technocratic views of the future as well as Indic and feminist perspectives. It is among the few studies to link macrohistory and epistemic analysis to study the long‐term.

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Article

Darren Garvey

The purpose of this paper is to provide an account of the author's negotiation of a methodological and personal crisis that emerged in the course of his PhD research. It…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an account of the author's negotiation of a methodological and personal crisis that emerged in the course of his PhD research. It provides a description of the research project and how, in its implementation, questions emerged for the author regarding the likely “indigenous credibility” of the work, and the repercussions of this for him as an indigenous researcher.

Design/methodology/approach

The author provides a narrative account of the events and responses, identifying critical issues, courses of action and subsequent outcomes. Opportunity is also provided for the reader to consider their own response to the issues identified.

Findings

The author discovered that the initial misgivings regarding the research project were misguided following a broader reading of the literature regarding Indigenous Standpoint Theory and Causal Layered Analysis. Indeed, as well as allaying the initial anxieties, a number of aspirational congruities between the approaches became evident which, in the opinion of the author, will lead to a differently rendered layering of the arena of indigenous mental health. The author also discovered that a source of his initial misgivings were related to his own essentialised constructions of what constitutes credible indigenous research.

Research limitations/implications

The paper has implications for those indigenous researchers who may be grappling with methodological issues related to their research, particularly those considerations regarding Indigenous Standpoint and other nominally indigenous theories/methodologies.

Originality/value

The paper presents a novel attempt to compare and contrast methodologies specifically identified as indigenous, with those that could be utilised as complementary to them. Such attempts at collaboration serve to challenge essentialised expectations about what can constitute meaningful research by, and for indigenous Australian people.

Details

Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1443-9883

Keywords

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Article

Gilbert Fan and Joan Nee Wey Khng

This paper aims to study the future of the Singapore association of social workers using causal layered analysis (CLA) and the Futures Triangle. In today’s rapidly…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to study the future of the Singapore association of social workers using causal layered analysis (CLA) and the Futures Triangle. In today’s rapidly changing world, professional associations have to re-evaluate their roles to remain relevant. This paper presents an analysis of findings from a study on the level of alliance of social workers with their professional association. By critically examining underlying issues beneath common beliefs held by social workers that impede, promote or sustain change with their professional association, we can gain a deeper understanding into their level of alliance with their association. Insights toward current issues faced by the association as well as its alternative and preferred futures could be illuminated.

Design/methodology/approach

Inayatullah’s “Futures Triangle” was used to deepen the findings of the study on the level of alliance of social workers with their professional association from the lens of CLA (Inayatullah, 2004). The study employed interviews with 27 social workers in Singapore, selected through purposive sampling.

Findings

Alternative scenarios and preferred futures of the Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) that were postulated from the interviews reinforce a need for more targeted recruitment campaigns. It also calls for regionalization and globalization of SASW to maximize its potentials.

Originality/value

The paper suggests how a social work association might be able to reposition its role in relation to its stakeholders to promote and sustain itself. SASW could do so through positioning itself as the “National Geographic” beacon for social workers in Singapore to reach out to the world.

Details

Foresight, vol. 16 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

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Article

Sohail Inayatullah and Ivana Milojević

The purpose of this paper is to present the scenarios, visions and strategies that resulted from a five-day foresight workshop for AKEPT (Higher Education Leadership

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the scenarios, visions and strategies that resulted from a five-day foresight workshop for AKEPT (Higher Education Leadership Academy), the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia.

Design/methodology/approach

An anticipatory action-learning course/workshop with over 50 lecturers and deans framed by the “six pillars” futures approach. Methods given the most attention were: the futures triangle; causal layered analysis; and scenario planning. Lecturers deliberated for the first three days, and deans for the last two. After their debates, the lecturers and deans presented their findings and recommendations to each other, and to the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia. As well, they considered how they as individual scholars can also pursue specific actionable steps towards their preferred futures visions.

Findings

The recommendations by lecturers and deans can be systematized in the following categories: establishment of a pilot project; enhancement of digital teaching and learning processes; customization of degrees; changing of the culture in higher education; enhancing collaboration; supporting research activities; rethinking of dominant frames of reference; and anticipating upcoming futures trends.

Research limitations/implications

As the process included lecturers and deans as key participants, and not, for example, students or the community, stakeholder perspectives are limited. Specific actionable steps, as per recommendations, are being pursued by the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia, as well as by individual participants.

Originality/value

Description of an action learning process in its second year. Year three will continue with a different group of participants who will reflect on the initial findings presented here. Description of the foresight process and findings of this case study may be of value to other ministries of higher education in the region and elsewhere.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

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