Corporate foresight Its three roles in enhancing the innovation capacity of a firm

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Ferdi, Ifrim Bink, Koen, Toon

Authors: René Rohrbeck, Hans Georg Gemünden

Publication Year: 2011


Journal: Technological Forecasting and Social Change

Volume: 78

Issue: 2 p.231-243

Categories: Innovation, Adaptation


Corporate foresight is used to create and sustain a competitive advantage. Reason why companies find it difficult to renew are the high rate of change, ignorance (fail to perceive discontinuous change), and inertia to renew. Three perspectives on how to manage discontinuous change can be distinguished: strategic management, innovation management, managing the future. For the strategic management perspective, two abilities are needed: (1) adapt incrementally and exploit current business in times of incremental change (2) adapt radically and explore new markets and business opportunities in times of discontinuous change. The innovation management perspective incorporates research streams. Research is needed to gain and maintain competitive advantage. Absorptive capacity enlightened companies how to develop their ability to acquire new capabilities and use them for competitive advantage. Managing the future perspective identify methods to systematically explore the future. The research that was done for this article was to broaden knowledge of the impact and value creation of corporate foresight and the role in enhancing innovation capacity of a firm. Empirical evidence was drawn from multiple case-studies (19) instead of a single one and 107 interviews. While defining the maturity model it was desired that it was able to apply to any company, very generalizable. Therefore case-studies used companies in different sectors and industries. Instruments used for data collection were interviews, internal documents, external academic publications and interview templates. To ensure integrity and increase validity of the data collected through informants, three informant perspectives were used: internal customer, activity manager, activity team. Through cross-case analysis three generic roles were identified that corporate foresight can play to enhance the innovation capacity of a firm. The strategist role (provide strategic guidance, identify new business models of competitors), Initiator role (identify new customer needs, technologies and product concepts of competitors), Opponent role (Challenge innovators to create better and more successful innovations by challenging basic assumptions and scanning for disruptions that could endanger current and future innovations). These roles linked to the innovation process create value for enhancing the innovation capacity of a firm.

Critical Reflection

Reflecting the corporate foresight and innovation capacity of a firm onto the adaptive change cycle the following can be concluded. The part where corporate foresight process is executed is in the revolt part (crisis, new combinations). This because the article is really focused on increasing the innovation capacity of a firm through corporate foresight and the corporate foresight process. This focuses all on innovation and not so much on the left side/conservation part of the adaptive cycle model. Since innovation plays a role in the adaptive change cycle this article seems relevant for the subjects on this wiki.


Ferdi, Ifrim Bink, Koen, Toon