What Corporations Do with Foresight

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European Journal of Futures Studies

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Foresight involves future-oriented awareness and planning, enabling businesses to respond quickly and effectively to future market threats and opportunities. However, knowledge about corporate foresight practices and outcomes is limited. Corporations interested in implementing foresight are unable to identify best practices or anticipate results from foresight activities. Therefore, this qualitative, multiple holistic case study was a foundational investigation of foresight phenomenon within contemporary American corporations. A convenience sample of 14 foresight practitioners represented American corporations or American divisions of European corporations actively using foresight. Interview queries aligned with the guiding research questions explored corporate foresight methods and outcomes. Interview data were coded and synthesized for thematic report of common and unique responses; this documented practices used in and outcomes derived from corporate foresight. Foresight practitioners revealed specific actions taken by corporations in response to foresight outcomes. Actions included organizational changes, introduction of new products or product variations, new research and development projects, and inclusion of foresight project outputs such as reports, presentations, recommendations, in departmental plans. The findings suggested standardization of terminology for professional discourse, education, and practice, would benefit practitioners and corporations. Four tenets emerging from the themes were short-termism, corporate culture, implementation, and feedback loop; these tenets should guide future use of foresight in the context of for-profit corporations.