Anticipation and Organization: Seeing, Knowing and Governing Futures

Mikkel Flyverbom*, Christina Garsten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Anticipation is part of organizational attempts to manage their future affairs and shape their surroundings. Still, the ways in which organizations engage in anticipation have not been sufficiently conceptualized in the field of organization and management studies. This article conceptualizes organizational ways of shaping and orchestrating futures by engaging insights from Foucauldian scholarship that highlight the intersection between what we can see, know and govern. We highlight the importance of processes of knowledge production in governance efforts, and articulate how anticipatory governance is crafted through intricate combinations of resources such as narratives, numbers and digital traces. The main contribution is a conceptual typology outlining four different templates for anticipatory governance in organizational settings that we term ‘indicative snapshots’, ‘prognostic correlations’, ‘projected transformations’ and ‘phantasmagoric fictions’. We posit anticipatory governance as a knowledge-based, performative phenomenon that addresses potential and desirable futures in and between organizations. Such anticipatory activities gauge and guide organizational processes and modes of thinking and acting along different temporal orientations, and have governance effects that makes anticipation performative by its very nature. This understanding of anticipatory governance, we suggest, offers both conceptual contributions and empirical avenues for research in organization and management studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Theory
Volume2
Issue number3
Number of pages25
ISSN2631-7877
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Anticipation
  • Foucauldian governmentality
  • Governance
  • Information systems
  • Knowledge management
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Knowledge work
  • Organizational control
  • Technology

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