Determinants of Organizational Vigilance: Leadership, Foresight, and Adaptation in Three Sectors

George Day, Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School, and Paul J. H. Schoemaker, Q2 Technologies LLC

Futures and Foresight Science, October 24, 2019

Abstract: Why are vigilant organizations better at developing foresight than their rivals and acting faster on the insights and alerts? Four attributes were hypothesized to explain the difference between vigilant and vulnerable organizations: (a) a leadership commitment to sensing and acting early on signals of change, (b) strategic investments in foresight abilities, (c) a flexible approach to incorporating uncertainty in their strategy processes, and (d) clear accountability and coordination for sharing information and acting on weak signals. This conceptual model was tested with survey responses from 345 organizational leaders representing three sectors of the economy: international companies, US credit unions, and American foundations. The survey assessed key components of the above constructs and our regression models explained close to half of the variance in organizational vigilance scores relative to competitors. The most important of the four factors above was investment in foresight (for each sector), followed by leadership commitment. The relativ importance of strategy and accountability factors varied by sector as well as organizational size.

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