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This Idea Development Workshop builds upon the growing conversation in the field of organization theory and strategy about the role of future imaginaries and scenarios in developing solution-oriented approaches to societal grand challenges.

Facing grand challenges (George et al., 2016; Gümüsay et al., 2020), such as transitioning to a carbon-free economy, fighting poverty and inequality, and addressing precarious work due to digitalization, requires considering the legitimate interests of future generations, including children and unborn generations. The concept of intergenerational decision-making emerges as crucial, underscoring the responsibility to consider both present and future needs, as currently, the negative consequences of inaction on grand challenges disproportionately fall on future generations (Mikes & New, 2023). This approach aims to mitigate the discrepancy between current generations reaping immediate benefits and future generations bearing the costs. Indeed, individuals tend to perceive a desired outcome for future generations as less valuable than an equivalent outcome for the current generation (Jacquet et al., 2013). Importantly, intergenerational decision-making is hindered by both individual psychological factors and organizational dynamics (Slawinski et al., 2017). Organizational structures and cultures often favor maintaining the status quo and hinder efforts to consider the needs of future generations (Slawinski & Bansal, 2015).

Recent developments highlight a shift toward recognizing the future as an open-ended field that requires a broader range of organizational practices through which actors produce and enact the future (Wenzel et al., 2020). However, exploring ways for individuals, organizations, and society to reimagine and co-create the future introduces a challenge: the future has not yet happened. This predicament leads us to question whether we need to wait for the future to unfold before theorizing about it, or whether we can proactively envision and analyze potential outcomes (Gümüsay & Reinecke, 2022). New approaches to theorizing future-making processes based on concepts such as real utopia (Gümüsay & Reinecke, 2022), prospective theorizing (Gümüsay & Reinecke, n.d.) or futurescapes (Rindova & Martins, 2022) have emerged, and theorizing about alternative futures can leverage on the performative impact of theory (Hernandez & Haack, 2023).

These future-making approaches require imaginative and disciplined speculation to construct theoretical frameworks that can guide understanding and action in anticipation of distant futures, and hopefully, desirable futures (Augustine et al., 2019; Gümüsay & Reinecke, 2022; Healey & Hodgkinson, 2024; Rindova & Martins, 2022). This Idea Development Workshop will address these and other issues and advance the research agenda on alternative futures in organization and management for the next decade.



Augustine, G., Soderstrom, S., Milner, D., & Weber, K. (2019). Constructing a distant future: Imaginaries in geoengineering. Academy of Management Journal, 62(6), 1930–1960. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2018.0059h

George, G., Howard-Grenville, J., Joshi, A., & Tihanyi, L. (2016). Understanding and tackling societal grand challenges through management research. Academy of Management Journal, 59(6), 1880–1895. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2016.4007

Gümüsay, A. A., Claus, L., & Amis, J. (2020). Engaging with grand challenges: An institutional logics perspective. Organization Theory, 1(3), 2631787720960487. https://doi.org/10.1177/2631787720960487

Gümüsay, A. A., & Reinecke, J. (forthcoming). Imagining Desirable Futures: A Call for Prospective Theorizing with Speculative Rigor. Organization Theory

Gümüsay, A. A., & Reinecke, J. (2022). Researching for desirable futures: From real utopias to imagining alternatives. Journal of Management Studies, 59(1), 236–242. https://doi.org/10.1111/joms.12709

Healey, M. P., & Hodgkinson, G. P. (2024). Overcoming strategic persistence: Effects of multiple scenario analysis on strategic reorientation [E-pub ahead of print]. Strategic Management Journal. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.3589

Hernandez, M., & Haack, P. (2023). Theorizing for positive impact. Academy of Management Review, 48(3), 371-378. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2023.0180

Jacquet, J., Hagel, K., Hauert, C., Marotzke, J., Röhl, T., & Milinski, M. (2013). Intra- and intergenerational discounting in the climate game. Nature Climate Change, 3(12), 1025-1028. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2024

Mikes, A., & New, S. (2023). How to create an optopia? – Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Ministry for the Future” and the politics of hope. Journal of Management Inquiry, 32(3), 228–242. https://doi.org/10.1177/10564926231169170

Rindova, V. P., & Martins, L. L. (2022). Futurescapes: Imagination and temporal reorganization in the design of strategic narratives. Strategic Organization, 20(1), 200–224. https://doi.org/10.1177/1476127021989787

Slawinski, N., & Bansal, P. (2015). Short on time: Intertemporal tensions in business sustainability. Organization Science, 26(2), 531–549. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2014.0960

Slawinski, N., Pinkse, J., Busch, T., & Banerjee, S. B. (2017). The role of short-termism and uncertainty avoidance in organizational inaction on climate change: A multi-level framework. Business & Society, 56(2), 253–282. https://doi.org/10.1177/0007650315576136

Wenzel, M., Krämer, H., Koch, J., & Reckwitz, A. (2020). Future and organization studies: On the rediscovery of a problematic temporal category in organizations. Organization Studies, 41(10), 1441–1455. https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840620912977