Managerial hyperopia : a potential unintended consequence of foresight in a top management team?

Burt, George and MacKay, David and Perchard, Andrew (2015) Managerial hyperopia : a potential unintended consequence of foresight in a top management team? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 101. ISSN 0040-1625

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Abstract

In this paper we explore the phenomenon of managerial hyperopia. Hyperopia is a metaphorical term adopted from ocular science referring to long-sightedness—a condition of being able to focus clearly on that which is far away but not that which is nearby. Managerial hyperopia describes a managerial approach that focuses with acuity on that which is far off (temporally, spatially or cognitively) whilst failing to interpret and manage that which is close at hand. Hyperopia is pathology of a managerial approach that habitually favours the long term to the extent that the short-term is marginalised. Hyperopia is thus distinct from far-sightedness, or foresight, which is an understanding of that which is to come about. As a response to environmental flux, the emergence of managerial hyperopia contradicts existing theory which predicts short-sighted managerial responses. Based on longitudinal empirical evidence from a single qualitative case study we argue that managerial hyperopia can emerge from an over-emphasis on foresight activities in a top management team in a period of time considered as turbulent. Further, we suggest that without counterbalancing operational attention, goal-oriented foresight activities may compound this and unintentionally lead to detrimental organizational performance in the here and now.