Changing Maps

Changing Maps: Governing in a World of Rapid Change

Steven A. Rosell
Copyright Date: 1995
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  • Book Info
    Changing Maps
    Book Description:

    How can we organize and govern ourselves successfully in a world of rapid change and increasing interconnection? This book reports the findings of a round table of senior Canadian government officials and private sector executives, exploring fundamental changes in the economy, in culture and values and in the social contract that characterize the emergence of a global information society.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8420-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VIII)
  3. Preface: Governing in a World of Rapid Change
    (pp. IX-XIV)
    Steven A. Rosell
  4. Part I: Report of the Roundtable
    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-24)

      We are in the midst of a fundamental social and economic transformation whose extent and implications we only partially grasp. The magnitude of those changes is calling into question many of the mental maps and models we use to make sense of the world, and to underpin the ways we organize and govern ourselves.

      We use those mental maps to look for pattern amidst what William James called the “buzzing, blooming confusion” of sense data. That ability to separate the important pattern from the noise is essential to our survival and development, and our culture and experience provide us with...

    • 2 Re-mapping the Territory: Three Perspectives
      (pp. 25-54)

      At our inaugural roundtable we had identified several key issues (several dimensions) through which the information society appeared to be reshaping the environment for governance. As each of these dimensions changes in the information society, the environment for governance, in turn, changes. We decided to use our next three roundtables to explore three of these dimensions in greater depth:

      the economy;

      culture and values;

      the social contract.

      Our existing mental maps seemed inadequate to make sense of how these dimensions are changing in the information society; so we asked leading experts from Canada and abroad to work with us in...

    • 3 Constructing Scenarios
      (pp. 55-76)

      During our initial roundtable, kees van der Heijden had commented that it was helpful, even desirable, to develop a serious case of information overload during the process of gathering “new knowledge” that leads up to scenario construction. As the roundtable convened for a two-day scenario workshop, one member commented ruefully that we certainly had achieved that objective.

      The workshop was facilitated by Adam Kahane,38who began by showing a videotape of an earlier scenario process he had facilitated in South Africa. That workshop had involved representatives of the African National Congress, business, labour unions and academics and had produced, what...

    • 4 Changing Course: Toward Social Cohesion
      (pp. 77-106)

      In constructing the scenarios, we had developed a new mental map of the different ways in which the information society might reshape the environment for governance in the coming decade. We now tried to use that map to guide our exploration.

      As we began that exploration, it seemed to us that only two of the scenarios pointed toward a future that appeared to be desirable (though we disagreed about their relative desirability); namely,StarshipandWindjammer. What those two scenarios had in common was a strong degree of social cohesion. It was no surprise that none of us wanted to...

    • 5 Continuing the Process: Building a Learning Society
      (pp. 107-142)

      Too often, as we noted earlier, political and policy discourses are framed as exercises in problem solving, as an effort to find lasting solutions to problems that frequently are posed in technical terms. In the rapidly changing environment of the information society, however, the lifetime of those particular solutions is likely to be short. In that environment, we need to focus more on strengthening the ongoing learning process by which we construct shared mental maps, shared values, objectives and frameworks of interpretation, in the context of which a wide range of players then can devise a continuing succession of more...

  5. Part II: Selected Papers Presented to the Roundtable
    • Introduction
      (pp. 145-146)

      Throughout the project, the work of the roundtable has been stimulated and focused by presentations made by a wide range of international authorities. A number of those authorities agreed to develop their presentations into formal papers, which are presented here.

      The discussions those presentations sparked are outlined in the report of the roundtable in Part I of this volume. The discussion of Kees van der Heijden’s presentation is in Chapter 1. The presentations by Christopher Freeman, Walter Truett Anderson and Amitai Etzioni provide the focus for Chapter 2. And the papers by Daniel Keating and Daniel Yankelovich helped to shape...

    • 6 Scenario Thinking About the Future
      (pp. 147-162)
      Kees van der Heijden

      Problems are not objective phenomena (out there) in the world. They are created in our minds; we define problems; they are entirely subjective. We spend a lot of time on the process of problem solving but, in actual fact, few problems are ever solved. It would be more appropriate to talk about finishing with problems (Eden 1987). We define when something is a problem and when it is no longer a problem.

      We define a situation as being problematic when we feel we do not have enough control over matters that affect us strongly. Solving a problem is done by...

    • 7 The Information Economy: ICT and the Future of the World Economy
      (pp. 163-186)
      Chris Freeman

      This paper discusses some of the difficulties of technological forecasting, with special reference to computer technology. It then takes up the question of defining the “information economy” and argues that the pervasive influence of information and communication technology (ICT) amounts to a change of “techno-economic paradigm” in the world economy. Such a paradigm change involves the transformation of skills, of the capital stock, and of work organization on a vast scale. The paper argues that this helps to explain the “productivity paradox” – why the universal introduction of computers has coincided with a slowdown of productivity growth and a rise...

    • 8 Postmodernism, Pluralism, and the Crisis of Legitimacy
      (pp. 187-200)
      Walter Truett Anderson

      If the world is entering an historical era significantly different from the modern era that shaped society and governance as we have known them, we must attempt to understand what implications this transition may have for the various concepts of authority that underlie public and private institutions. Not only are specific authority systems such as church and state, in crisis, but so is authority itself. This is not to say that these institutions are on the verge of collapse, but that their foundations are being challenged by the main themes of contemporary post modern thought.

      What are these themes? What,...

    • 9 Communitarianism
      (pp. 201-204)
      Amitai Etzioni

      Communitarianism is a social movement that aims at changing our moral and civic environment. It is part change of heart, part renewal of social bonds, part reform of public life.

      Change of heart is the most basic aim. Without stronger moral voices, public authorities are over-burdened and markets cannot work. Without moral commitments, people act without consideration for one another. In recent years, too many of us have been reluctant to lay moral claims on one another. It is a mistaken notion that just because we desire to be free from governmental controls, we should also be free from responsibilities...

    • 10 The Learning Society in the Information Age
      (pp. 205-230)
      Daniel P. Keating

      The rapid social and economic changes we are encountering, as we approach the 21st Century, present complex and unprecedented challenges to contemporary societies. There is a high probability that these changes herald fundamental structural rearrangements. Societies now must cope simultaneously with global economic competition, the demand for new competencies within the population, the provision of opportunities for health and well-being across the population, and the maintenance of the social fabric for nurturing, socializing, and educating the next generation.

      As the pace of social change accelerates, it becomes increasingly important that we attend to the basic requirements for healthy human development....

    • 11 A Critique of the “Information Society” Concept
      (pp. 231-254)
      Daniel Yankelovich

      The governing in an information society project is taking place at a time when public confidence in our institutions of governance, both in Canada and in the United States, is low and is sinking lower. Indeed, in all of the advanced industrial democracies, governments seem unable to come to grips with the great social and political issues that are of deepest concern to people. As public insecurities mount about job security, personal safety, growing inequality and declining morality (and the apparent inability of government to cope with them) institutional legitimacy erodes. That erosion is not confined to government; opinion polls...

  6. Glossary of Acronymns
    (pp. 255-256)