The futures of futures studies
Pushing the boundaries of futures thinking
26 October 2023 (Thursday), 11:15-13:00, lab

Foresight and influence, a new nexus?

Foresight enables organizations to work on different future scenarios to increase their readiness and resilience. The interest in foresight has risen dramatically after the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. They expose the weaknesses of our societies and our lack of preparation to face them. Companies and governments are now willing to be better prepared for the next crisis, and they have started to invest in different foresight methodologies in order to reach this goal. In fact, many are now trying to integrate foresight into both their strategic planning and their daily activities.
Behind this general interest, another emerging but still largely undocumented topic concerns the use of foresight as a lever of influence. The question of influence and its deployment is already a common theme in the studies of power and international relations. It is also becoming increasingly important in the business world, with the development of corporate political and public activities. Through the implementation of influence strategies, companies aim to modify the behavior of key players, such as politicians, civil servants or donors, in favor of their business interests. For example, a company may promote one technology against another, or advocate regulations designed to limit the ability of newcomers to compete in its market segments. In this context, foresight can be a tool for shaping the perceptions of the targeted actors. It can enable a company to demonstrate that one scenario is better than another, and thus reinforce its position and influence in its ecosystem.
Based on the analysis of the emergence of driverless technology in France, this communication will explore how a consortium of French companies used foresight to influence the emerging regulation of driverless vehicles in France. This case analysis generates key insights regarding the nexus between two traditionally distinct research and practical fields: foresight and influence.

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