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The Firm as an Engine of Imagination: Organizational Prospection and the Making of Economic Futures

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Beckert,  Jens
Soziologie des Marktes, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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OT_2_2021_Beckert.pdf
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Citation

Beckert, J. (2021). The Firm as an Engine of Imagination: Organizational Prospection and the Making of Economic Futures. Organization Theory, 2(2). doi:10.1177/26317877211005773.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-4C48-3
Abstract
What do organizations do, and why? An important but only selectively scrutinized aspect of the doings of organizations consists in their creation of imaginaries of economic futures. Under conditions of uncertainty, it is through ‘imagined futures’ that organizations motivate and find the rationale for their decisions, coordinate activities, manage stakeholders and compete with one another. This article suggests making the construction of imagined futures a vantage point for the study of organizations and processes of organizing. It focuses on ‘instruments of imagination’ used by firms to create ‘fictional expectations’ which are used to come to terms with an uncertain future – and to proactively shape this future. Instruments discussed here include strategic planning, technological projections, economic forecasting, and business plans among others. The article argues that a fruitful general analytical perspective can be developed by bringing the constitution, contestation and effects of imagined futures to the forefront of organizational analysis.