Narrating the future: A distentive capability approach to strategic foresight

David Sarpong, Eve Eyres, Georgios Batsakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Strategic foresight encompasses thinking and organizing differently within the contingencies of the present in ways that is mindful of the unpredictable future. Building on the Ricoeurian notion of distentio- ‘the stretching of consciousness through simultaneous attention to memory and expectation’, we develop the concept of distentive capability as a spatio-temporal process of ‘way-finding’ that sustains the creative emergence of strategic foresight across multiple time horizons. Emphasizing narratives as the site of strategic foresight, we draw on tropes taken from three of the most popular speeches delivered by Steve Jobs, the American information technology entrepreneur, inventor and founder of Apple Inc. to illustrate how distentive capability as played out in the reassembling of the past, the present and the future, stretched out in time, may contribute to the identification of potentialities and limits for strategic action. Implication for the theory and practice of strategic foresight are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date18 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


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