Skip to main content
Hello Visitor!     Log In
Share |

Who should Govern on what Principles? The Future of Decision Making Combining Nudge with Scenarios to reach Eutopia

ARTICLE | | BY Elif Çepni


Elif Çepni

 Get Full Text in PDF


The main aim of this paper is to discuss the theories of decision-making, the problems of predictions and how the tools utilized for the process of decision-making at the macro-level could be enhanced for policy makers in our post-normal times. Decision-making is the process of identifying and choosing alternatives based on the values and preferences of the decision maker deriving from several perspectives (psychological, cognitive, and normative). Decision theory (or the theory of choice) is the study of the reasoning that underlies the choices adopted by an agent. Normative (Prescriptive) decision theory gives advice on how to make the best decisions with a set of uncertain beliefs and a set of values. Descriptive (positive) decision theory analyses how existing, possibly irrational agents actually make decisions (Grunig and Kuhn, 2013). Political decisions or governmental policies are devised using the normative decision theory. The values, beliefs and ideas of policy makers inevitably have a great impact on the formulation of policies. When examining the questions on right and wrong, they will habitually prompt variable answers from different individuals and groups. Therefore, the manner in which governments or institutions, in particular universal organisations, should be governed raises many complex questions. The dilemmas of our time, energy, environment, climate change, food security, and financial security cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic problems, which mean that they are interconnected, and interdependent (Capra and Luisi, 2014). In a number of situations, political leaders are unable to draw conclusions from facts. They fail to appreciate how the major problems of our time are all interrelated. They do not see how their declared solutions may affect future generations. Yet, if issues are to be viewed in a holistic sense, a further crucial threat of the fashion in which power is distributed would present itself. On occasions, global and national decisions may contradict themselves or periodically, populism might dominate the decisions of policy makers. The world consists of multiple diverse groups; consequently, the governance of humanity is not straightforward. Most people in our modern society, especially those in our large social institutions, use concepts of an outdated worldview; their perception of reality is inadequate for dealing with our overpopulated, globally interconnected world. The age that we live in is more frequently called “post-normal times.” It is characterized by complexity, chaos and contradictions (Sardar, 2010). The main aim of this paper is to discuss and assert the need for new alternative decision-making systems which could eliminate the basic deficiencies of the current systems. We need to raise the awareness of people and educate them about “how they can be more anti-fragile and enjoy the complexity of our daily life.” Modernity has brought significantly enriched improvements into our daily lives but it has also been instigating additional complications. Sequentially, citizens and consumers of today are experiencing a growing sense of alienation, loss of values and flexibility (Zajda, 2009). This is a further attempt to show that reconsideration is clearly needed to determine the relevance of the certainty and stability of the Newtonian paradigm in decision-making and the governance process.

1. Introduction

For some people there is a tendency to believe that globalisation is creating conditions for faster economic growth as a consequence of access to ideas, technology, goods, services and capital. On the other hand, many are convinced that globalisation causes levels of inequality and poverty to increase. Half of the world, which in total is more than three billion people, lives on less than two dollars a day.

Eighty-two percent of the wealth generated last year was accumulated by the richest one percent of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who constitute the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth, according to an Oxfam Report (Richest 1 percent, 2018).

The UNDP defines “human development” as a “process of enlarging people’s choices.” So, the question of how the range of choices can be widened through sustainable development, more democratic and more humanistic procedures is one of the most important topics in the current and future global political agenda. Being a humanist signifies an assumption of building bridges between north, south, east and west and strengthening the human community to face challenges together.

Societies nowadays are interconnected and cannot act in isolation. Therefore, if any conflicts exist between national and global priorities, appropriate resolutions are taken off the main agenda of principal powers. There are some very critical problems of the modern World, that none of the countries or institutions have managed to solve in isolation, like poverty, disease (Ebola virus, Tuberculosis, HIV, etc.), wars, terrorism, racism.

Famine in parts of Africa, depletion of natural resources, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, deterioration in human rights and democratic freedoms, problems concerning business life generated by technological change, are some additional problems that may require common, collective and participatory solutions.

Additionally, it is very difficult for those who have the responsibility of making national decisions to prioritize divergent interests of different groups within the same country. Decision-makers will rely on their beliefs, ideas, and values. Periodically, the ideology of their surrounding camp will also become apparent. It is very likely that they will formulate their decisions under the attraction of populism.

Even at an individual level there are significant problems in terms of formulating our decisions. According to Kahneman, Utility Theory makes logical assumptions of economic rationality that do not reflect people’s actual choices and does not take into account cognitive biases (Kahneman, 2012). Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to systematic deviations from a standard of rationality or good judgement and are often studied in psychology and behavioural economics. Anchoring or focalism, availability heuristic, bias blind spot, cheerleader effect, conjunction fallacy, focusing effect, framing effect, hindsight bias, and omission bias are some examples.

As Thomas Hobbes remarked, perhaps we are selfish and driven by the fear of death and the hope of personal gain; perhaps we all seek power over others (Warburton, 2012). Even when we are unconvinced of the accuracy within the picture of humanity as seen by Hobbes, we may accept the existence of major differences between individual good and social good. The question of whether some important decisions both at the national and international level could possibly be taken by collective action must be asked. This view is not necessarily in opposition to sovereign states. In these post-normal times, nation-states are becoming weaker. This is sometimes called the globalization of individuals. The people of the world are more connected now; although this is not as unfavourable as it was declared to be by Hobbes in Leviathan.

Richard Thaler, in his book titled Misbehaving, lays out that our decisions deviate from the standards of rationality, meaning that we are all inclined to conduct ourselves in unacceptable ways on occasion. Thaler and Sunstein in their book titled Nudge criticize the Homo economicus view of human beings: “that each of us thinks and chooses unfailingly well, and thus fits within the textbook picture of human beings offered by economists.” It seems reality is often contradictory to theory.

An attempt has been made by David Orell in his book Economyths to show how the science of complex systems is transforming economic thought. He claims that the main assumptions of economic theories must be replaced with more realistic ones; he perceives that the economy is unfair, unstable, unsustainable and that economics needs a scientific revolution.

Every reform for the future is a combination of the actions and lack of actions taken over time.

Empirical studies have previously proved the fallacy that rationality is a presumed feature of traditional economic theory. Behavioural economics, a branch of economics, has embarked on challenging long-standing economic theories, which in turn could conceivably reshape the making of public policy. Leaders, policy makers, and CEOs are no longer seen to be any more rational than most other human beings in their judgments and the choices that they make. Kahneman says that human beings rarely meet the criteria of rationality even when they are sensible and are in possession of a good level of intelligence. There is always the potential for people to be irrational and commit a number of inaccuracies. So, if we take into consideration our nationalistic, religious, gender, race-based and cultural differences, we understand the possibility of rational decision-making being even more problematic than it is at present. When errors are predictable, it is easy for decision-makers to design policies that “nudge” us toward better choices. In the formulation of their policies, governments and international institutions could utilize the option of incorporating human factors into the design and by using scenario planning methods that could become “choice architectures”. By moving in this direction, we can create credible and sustainable organizations that serve society’s interest simultaneously along with their own.

There is no Pareto-dominant policy, and no single policy ensuring that all individuals in society will be better off than they would be under any other policy. Different policies have different repercussions on different groups within society (workers versus financial markets, domestic creditors versus foreign creditors; borrowers versus creditors). Moreover, different groups are bearing different risks (Stiglitz, Ocampo, Spiegel, Davis, and Nayyar, 2006). Finding a general solution could be a very challenging task. As recourse, stage scenario planning through the use of information technologies could be used as a decision-making tool.

There are different but associated definitions of scenario planning.

According to the definition of Bawden, scenario planning technique exploits the remarkable capacity of humans to both imagine and to learn from what is imagined (Chermack, 2011). It is an effective futures tool that enables planners to examine what is likely and what is unlikely to happen, knowing well that unlikely elements in an organization are those that can determine its relative success.

The term Foresight has different definitions but at a very simple level it is used in the connotation of understanding the future. Similarly, hindsight is used to understand the past and insight is used to understand the present. In foresight studies generally the three of them are used together but the impact of the past should not dominate the image of the future.

So how can this technique be used in a collective and participatory way to determine our policies with high impact on the future?

Different surveys can be conducted by combining questions based on foresight, hindsight and insight. The policies or strategies of the future can be determined at the global or/and national level. An international or national authority similar to that of today’s ombudsman can then take the lead in the process. Combining results with the evaluation of scientific committees, decisions can be taken. It may solve credibility and time inconsistency problems of the processes in which decisions are taken by privileged minorities—either politicians or managers.

Substantial organizational units, concomitant with economic growth, have higher prospects of affecting bureaucratization, impersonality, communication problems, and the use of force to keep people under control.

Economic growth usually requires greater job specialization, which may be accompanied by greater impersonality, more drab and monotonous tasks, more discipline, and a loss of craftsmanship (Nafziger, 2006).

A future which is healthier, wealthier and happier than the present necessitates fresh formulas for thinking, together with new decision-making mechanisms. The transformation of decision takers into decision makers may transpire as a result.

Governments may use the contributions of these studies in their policy making and implementation process. A novel approach to thinking is necessary during the decision-making and policy-making process. There should also be a change in the understanding of our thoughts and choices.

Every reform for the future is a combination of the actions and lack of actions taken over time by individuals, governments, corporates and the world. Therefore, an individual is unable to maintain control over the future as the world is also a participator. Nevertheless, individuals are not completely powerless; they can contribute to a degree of influential input.

If prediction and probability are limited ways of thinking about the future, could there be a prospect of using scenario planning at the level of macro decision-making, and what would the possible advantages of using scenarios be?

By designing a multi-round decision-making process similar to the Delphi technique, we can use the combination of scenarios and nudge analysis to improve the success of policies. This process must be designed to work practically without creating an added red tape. We need a new economic model in line with a system design. We need to think about non-profit businesses, non-market, non-managed, non-money-based activities, networks beyond the price system (such as sharing and collaboration).

The Delors report also asserted that “Learning to live together, by developing an understanding of others and their history, traditions and spiritual values and, on this basis, creating a new spirit which, guided by recognition of our growing interdependence and common analysis of these risks and challenges of the future, would induce people to implement common projects or to manage the inevitable conflicts in an intelligent and peaceful way.” (Living to Learn Together, 2014)

A theme which should appear at the top of the agenda for all nations must be from what source a system could be established to enable both preferable governance (more democratic, holistic and humanistic), and be practicable. Although sovereign states are essential, an adjustment to the structure of the United Nations could create a wealthier, healthier and happier world, notwithstanding the many attempts and brave actions it would take.

2. Governance and Management

The state has become increasingly dependent on organizations in civil society and more constrained by international linkages.

‘Governance’ differs from ‘government’ both theoretically and empirically. In theoretical terms, governance is the process of governing. It is what governments do to their citizens. But it is also what corporations and other organisations do to their employees and members. Government refers to political institutions; governance refers to processes of rule wherever they occur (Bevir, 2012).

According to Chhotray and Stoker, governance concerns the rules of collective decision-making in settings where there is a plurality of actors or organisations and where no formal control system can dictate the terms of the relationship between these actors and organisations (Chhotray and Stoker, 2009).

So, what is global governance? It is defined thus by the IMF.

The ideal of global governance is a process of cooperative leadership that brings together national governments, multilateral public agencies, and civil society to achieve commonly accepted goals. It provides strategic direction and then marshals collective energies to address global challenges. To be effective, it must be inclusive, dynamic, and able to span national and sectoral boundaries and interests. It should operate through soft rather than hard power. It should be more democratic than authoritarian, more openly political than bureaucratic, and more integrated than specialized (Global Governance, 2018).

Management could be defined as accomplishing a mission through other people or working with and through other people to achieve the objectives of both the organization and its members.

In what manner the system should be governed is still a much-disputed topic. The disputes between the schools of economic thought run still very deep. The debate is far from over.

Friedman, founder of the monetarist school, once said: “A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.” Following the ideas of Karl Marx, communist regimes set out to create a state of uniformity among their citizens through programmes of social engineering and centralized economic management.

Many economists from all branches of schools of economic thought have made significant contributions to the economic and political regimes of countries.

But our time is totally different from theirs. Solutions to the major problems of our time require a radical shift in our perceptions, thinking and values. Post-normal times, post-normal science and human economy are the concepts that we need to take into consideration to define a new role for science (Cepni, 2017). Post-normal times are characterized by complexity, chaos and contradictions; post-normal science is characterized by uncertainties, systems view of thinking, alternative perspectives, unknown unknowns, and values.

Throughout the world in many sectors senior managers are future illiterate; likewise, decisions are readily taken by using guidance given by expert-oriented (expert-predicted) futures. But the future is not an extrapolation of the past.

Policy and decision-making in addition to other aspects of the management of complex systems are becoming increasingly difficult. Management philosophies, approaches, and techniques were developed during simpler times. However, complex systems are dynamic rather than static. They evolve or are driven into domains of instability and emerge into new structures. There is now a growing gap or loss of suitability between our systems-management capabilities and the real world.

Complex adaptive systems consist of many diverse and autonomous components or parts (called agents) which are interrelated, interdependent, linked through many (dense) interconnections, and behave as a unified whole in learning from experience and in adjusting (not just reacting) to changes in the environment (CAS, 2018).

Hence in such areas when a simple mechanistic view is incapable of forming a solution to predict the future, contemporary reflection and alternative procedures in making decisions are essential.

In many commercial and non-commercial institutions, traditional strategic plans are still used to foresee and reach an unforeseen future at the micro level.

Strategic Planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy on resources, strengthen operations, and ensure that employers and other stakeholders are working toward common goals. However, now it is widely accepted that good management is against any conditions that encourage the standardisation of thought and accord support to original thinking. We need to see the world differently.

We are living in a new era of uncertainty which organisations are struggling to overcome. In response to the interconnected threats the world currently faces (the human family today has an unprecedented interconnection), elimination of a remedy from a single state is evident.

Also, at the micro-level, “strategic readiness” of an organisation in response to the challenges of an uncertain world is far from sufficient. A fear of not knowing is invariably with us and will continue to persist in the future, but we are proficient enough to design better decision-making models sufficient for use at the micro- and macro-level.

3. Changing the Ways of Thinking in the Governance Process: We Need Utopia

A line distinguishing what is natural, universal, and constant in humankind and what is conventional, local and variable is extraordinarily difficult (Modern Mind, 2002).

Systems thinking is the fundamental perspective of futures studies. It embodies some of the foundational principles of foresight, such as: every entity (thing) is a system that consists of parts (subsystems) which is also a part of larger systems—a holon—Arthur Koestler’s term popularized by Ken Wilber.

The new emphasis on complexity, networks, and patterns of organization is slowly evolving. A new conception of life involves a new kind of thinking—thinking in terms of relationships, patterns, and context.

In science, this way of thinking is known as “systemic thinking” or “systems thinking”, denoting an understanding of life. A central characteristic of the systems view of life is its nonlinearity which denotes all living systems are complex—i.e. highly nonlinear networks, where countless interconnections between the biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions of life exist.

The new decision-making or governance process should take culture, ethics, and complexity issues into consideration.

The new scientific conception of life can be seen as a shift to a broader paradigm, adapting from a mechanistic to a holistic and ecological worldview. A shift of metaphors encourages a change from the world being viewed as a machine to understanding it as a network.

We are surrounded by complex adaptive systems. The stock market, the world economy, society, the biosphere and the ecosystem, the brain and the immune system, management teams, traffic and more are just some of the examples of complex adaptive systems.

The business dictionary gives a detailed definition of complex adaptive systems:

Entity consisting of many diverse and autonomous components or parts (called agents) which are interrelated, interdependent, linked through) many (dense interconnections, and behave as a unified whole in learning from experience and in adjusting (not just reacting) to changes in the environment. Each individual agent of a CAS is itself a CAS: a tree, for example, is a CAS within a larger CAS (a forest) which is a CAS in a still larger CAS (an ecosystem). Similarly, a member of a group is just one CAS in a chain of several progressively encompassing a community, a society, and a nation. Each agent maintains itself in an environment which it creates through its interactions with other agents.

The new decision-making or governance process should take culture, ethics, and complexity issues into consideration and by using information technologies of today it will encourage a more participatory, fair and credible answer.

The actuality that our decisions are heavily affected by our cultural heritage exists. There is no common definition of “culture”, but it may be defined as “the unique combination of expectations, written and unwritten rules, and social norms that dictate the everyday actions and behaviours of people.”

In the decision-making process we consider how the future may differ from the present. We consider and explore in what manner the rules might change.

Strategic foresight revolves around the question of “what will change?” Therefore, to implement a proactive response, the preparation of contingency plans could be organized for unexpected situations, in addition to consideration being given to the plausibility of a wide range of future eventualities.

Generally, our emotional energy is blind to probability but even when this is not the case, our inability to predict the occurrence of extreme events from past history is notable. Moreover, risk is in the future, not in the past.

Ethics can be defined in different ways but if we define it as the rules by which people agree to live together in this age of complexity, we may even define new rules more relevant to the changing conditions of our time. Also, ethics shows us the relationship between “individual good” and “social good.”

To have a vision, to be a visionary, or to change a part of the world does not necessitate actions from a great historical leader.

Catastrophe theory, chaos theory and the problems posed by incomplete information, “fracta,” is changing the meaning of the word “knowledge”. It is producing unknown interpretations in place of known explanations.

There is the potentiality to use education, science, culture and communication as the pillars of a new science, forcing a divergent decision-making or governance system to emerge.

To initiate a united human community and secure development as a sustainable actuality, it is essential to recondition our management mechanisms to differentiate between growth and development.

In several countries in a variety of sectors senior managers are future illiterate, and their decisions are being taken by employing established expert-oriented (expert-predicted) futures. However, one must debate whether the future is an extrapolation of the past and on what basis a planner can anticipate the good, right and proper moral standards of tomorrow. The values of planners are perhaps limited; the values of the present may not be those which will be followed by people in the future. This is a form of tyranny—the tyranny of the present, as mentioned by futurist Alvin Toffler.

Growth is a quantitative concept, whereas development is a qualitative concept. By using nudge and choosing architecture tools such as scenario planning and other foresight methods, a comparison can be made between short term gains and long-term losses of all decisions.

Modern economies today have undergone a dramatic change. Large-scale material manufacturing has been replaced by the design and application of new technology with R&D and human capital. The new information age has introduced significant productivity gains through increasing returns and becoming assimilated with the process. This has challenged the traditional growth models based on competitive market structures.

A complex decision problem is present in many parts of life. If two or more of the following conditions are fulfilled, it is called a complex decision: The actor pursues several goals simultaneously and some of these goals are not very precisely defined, and it is even possible that contradictions exist between them. As Morieux shows, CEOs in 1955 pursued 4-7 goals. In 2010, 25-40 goals were pursued simultaneously (Grunig and Kuhn, 2013).

To what extent the creation of new and especially shared knowledge is used in companies, in public and private institutions, in NGOs, etc. (from fixed to autonomous management) is undocumented and not very well known.

The use of flexible methods in working groups, variable utilization of open discussion and brainstorming, participant empowerment, future-oriented workshops on selected themes facilitated by experts are becoming more popular. However, as there is no change in the decision-making role, the traditional top to bottom decision-making model is used.

There are two different conceptions about the rationality of decision-making.

Substantial rationality, on the one hand, demands that the goals pursued are the right ones, that is, the goals are rational. Additionally, the decision-making procedure must also have a rational course. Formal rationality, on the other hand, requires only that the decision process be rational. As goals generally represent subjective values, they cannot be considered as right or wrong. Thus, substantial rationality is not possible. Management science is therefore oriented towards formal rationality.

To have formal rationality we need to use the future in an enhanced manner. Instead of short-termism, the exploration of long-range objectives is a requisite. The consolidation of holistic view, economic, political, institutional, sociological, technological and environmental aspects is one alternative. A multi-disciplinary approach to foresee main changes of the future is a valid concept.

The Discipline of Anticipation can be used as the base for a new decision-making process.

Prediction does not work efficiently in the world of human affairs, since there is a lack of recorded scientific theory of human behaviour.

In fact, there are many theories in psychology, anthropology, sociology and suchlike. All of them are effective to some extent, but they are equally fallible. Therefore, when predicting the outcome of a process involving human beings, uncertainty will always be prevalent.

The objective would be not to be excessively right (which is impossible), but rather not to be wrong. We are surrounded by many surprises and unexpected events. Surprise, as a word, means inadequate preparation, late response, risk of failure, even chaos or panic.

The power of people to influence their future is related to the quality of their vision and a vision is a concrete image of a preferred future state.

To have a vision, to be a visionary, or to change a part of the world does not necessitate actions from a great historical leader. We can use better tools of decision-making for today’s complex world (post-normal times).

Scenario Planning is inherently a learning process that challenges the comfortable conventional wisdom of the organization by focusing attention on how the future may be different from the present (Wilson, 2000).

Scenarios are management tools used to improve the quality of executive decision-making and help executives make better, more resilient strategic decisions.

Back-casting is one of the scenario techniques. An imagined future begins the process, followed by the creation of a path to the desired point in the future. The path could be constructed through analytical methods or through more creative methods such as “future history writing.”

Foresight is different from forecast. “Forecast” is used as a term for predictions; foresight is a term that describes a more open perspective on futuristic thinking.

It focuses on the identification of possible futures, potential issues, tendencies, and uncertainties, often using the scenario method. It is similar to the term ‘prospective analysis’.

There are some pitfalls of scenario planning too. There are prejudices, wishful thinking and blind spots that could lead to lousy analyses. Other traps are also present, namely; process design, selection of participants, and communication format in addition to others. Well-designed procedures may eliminate some of these deficiencies.

In this stage, online voting systems and suggestion collection method could be used.

A scenario is the full description of a future state and the path to that future. Some scenarios may include wild cards in it to show possible future results affected by our current decisions. Wild cards are unlikely future events that would have a great impact if they occurred.

To study the future is to study potential change—unveiling what is likely to make a systemic or fundamental difference over the next 10-25 years or more and it is not economic projection or sociological analysis or technological forecasting; it is a multidisciplinary examination of change in all major areas of life to find the interacting dynamics that are creating the next age (Giaoutz and Sapio, 2013).

The emerging scientific conception of life involves a new kind of thinking, one that thinks in terms of relationships, patterns, and context. This is known as “systems thinking.” A central characteristic of the systems view of life is its nonlinearity: all living systems are complex—highly nonlinear networks; and there are countless interconnections between the biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions of life.

A consideration may be given to whether our perspectives may be altered to encompass alternative beliefs on the practicalities of life. We must question ourselves on the feasibility of collective genius and whether the wisdom of a multitude of people acting collectively is achievable, noting that fulfilment requires enforcement, trust and government support.

Crowds can be mad as well. To be wise they need to be diverse in their membership (Goddard and Eccles, 2013). We live in a turbulent world. Plans, strategies and policies are based on fixed goals. But the environment and the conditions that we live in are changing very rapidly.

Corporate and government responsibilities are also changing at a rapid pace. Human beings contribute to marked improvements in social capital and are able to utilize collective intelligence to a greater degree.

4. How can Global Governance be achieved through Collective Intelligence?

Cybernetics was the result of a multidisciplinary collaboration between mathematicians, neuroscientists, social scientists and engineers, a group that became to be known collectively as cyberneticists.

To efficiently resolve our problems, an optimum solution is to make scientific disciplines work collaboratively on post-normal formulas.

It is questionable whether the establishment of an international organization to govern complex global issues is a practical option, however, many radical changes have always started with utopian ideas.

The Information technology available today would allow the population of the world to cast their vote for their chosen governor of the institution that we will name “supra-national ombudsman”, and her duty will be to act as the ombudsman of the earth and all living things on it.

Then if the extent of a decision is simple, the problem will be well structured, and consequences can be predicted quite easily so the decisions can be formulated through the direct votes of all people living on earth. However, if the problem is complex then a detailed order can be put into effect.

Issues will be redressed by a scientific committee whose election will be determined by the general public. In the first instance, suggestions and solutions by interested parties and called upon experts would be presented, followed by the sharing of all possible scenarios and their possible consequences through online videos to all people, governments and institutions.

Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein suggested that if a particular unfortunate behavioural or decision-making pattern is the result of cognitive boundaries, biases, or habits, this pattern may be “nudged” by public policy makers toward a better option by integrating insights about the very same kind of boundaries, biases, and habits into the choice architecture surrounding the behaviour.

When the problem is totally divergent and contains more than quantitative aspects, in order to address the problem, the resolution will subsequently be brought to the supra-national ombudsman. The collection of scenarios and suggestions of scientific committees will be combined, adding nudging if it is necessitated before being proposed to people through direct online surveys.

Choices will be authorized by national governments despite the fact that some issues may impede on global order and/or limit the supremacy of sovereign states. Nevertheless, a written charter incorporating international agreements would endorse the new institution.

Determination of what majority is sufficient to endorse a decision, in addition to what actions may be taken to compel any country that refuses to obey decisions, are details that must be reconciled.

It seems in the post-normal times of today, to enable further credibility of the world, there is a need to destroy it theoretically before we destroy it in practice. Governance systems will then have more accessible means to cope with change and uncertainty. The creation of bureaucracy by the governments, a rule of no one, is described by Mary McCarthy as the modern form of despotism.

The term “Utopia” is not something which is unrealistic or unreachable; by choosing a difficult road which requires a paradigm shift and radical changes (which may seem unrealistic or unattainable), we can shape the future in a better way.

Regardless of how we might describe the present, the digital epoch, the Fourth Industrial Revolution or the second machine age, a new world order could be designed by nations particularly concentrating on complex problems. Trust must be reinstated in global governance. We live in a VUCA (Volatility-Uncertainty-Complexity-Ambiguity) world. Actors with different forms of authority and different interests are incompetent in finding common solutions to complex problems.

There are many advantages to start work on the governability of such a collective-participatory-inclusive system. Thinking the unthinkable is not utopia. Utopia is a Greek word meaning “no place.” But it may be combined with Eutopia which means “good place.”

It is more appropriate to endeavour to explore the governability of such a collective-participatory-inclusive system, as just thinking the inconceivable is not utopia.

A similar system can be designed within corporations. Andrew Chakhyan names it “intrapreneurship” which means creating new ideas from within organisations. This utopian idea may bring us to utopia.

5. Conclusion

Modern world individuals are isolated and helpless. The fundamentals of anxiety are characterized as a feeling of “being small, insignificant, helpless and endangered, in a world that is determined to abuse, cheat, attack, humiliate, betray and envy.”

A new solidarity or new humanism, to reintegrate all countries in the universal com-munity, may be named as utopian by some decision makers or politicians; however, the meaning of utopia is misused. The term “Utopia” is not something which is unrealistic or unreachable; by choosing a difficult road which requires a paradigm shift and radical changes (which may seem unrealistic or unattainable), we can shape the future in a better way. History has an array of success stories of these kinds of utopian ideas.

Changes in the world call for the development of a new humanism, one that is both theoretical as well as practical, and which does not solely focus on the search for values but is also oriented towards the implementation of concrete programmes that have tangible results.

The Italian philosopher Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) expressed this point at the tender age of 24, when he developed the central concept of humanism in his famous Oration on the Dignity of Man, written in Florence in 1486: “God the Father, (...) taking man (...), set him in the middle of the world and thus spoke to him: ‘we have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, in order that you may, as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer’.”

The nature and character of the future of a nation and its development should be a major concern of all nations irrespective of their political, ideological or economic orientation.

Global crises raise challenges that cannot be resolved by any single country. Societies are interconnected and cannot act in isolation. It is the responsibility of every one of us to bind the community of humanity together, to build a common space that excludes no one, regardless of continent, origin, age or gender.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising on the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

We need a new global governance model to assess the future impact of multimedia, the human genome project, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, organ transplants, superconductivity, space colonization, and myriad other developments.

By which process are planners empowered to anticipate what will be good, right and proper in the perceptions of tomorrow?

The values of planners perhaps are limited and the principles of today are not necessarily the same as those which people will have in the future. This is a form of tyranny, termed the tyranny of the present by the futurist Alvin Toffler.

The new book Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb states that we are not in possession of the power to control other people, we are only able to influence our own reactions to them. The author adds that the curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding (Taleb, 2018).

The world is like the human body, if one-part aches, the rest will feel it; if many parts hurt, the whole will suffer. The nature and character of the future of a nation and its development should therefore be a major concern of all nations irrespective of their political, ideological or economic orientation. As we look toward the next few centuries, there can no longer be two futures, one for the few rich and the other for the many poor.  

Every ecosystem, every species, everything that happens in air, water or on the land is affected by what people do or have done. This is why many scientists believe that it is time to proclaim an end to Holocene Epoch, which began some ten to twelve thousand years ago with the end of the last Ice Age, and recognize that we have now entered a new epoch, the Anthropocene, in which human activity has come to rival nature as a force in the evolution of life on Earth (Anderson, 2016).

We need to meet the needs of the present without compromising on the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

As Spinoza verbalised, “If facts conflict with a theory, either the theory must be changed or the facts.” It seems some constructed theories are conflicting with the facts of today.

To guard our optimism, we may be reminded of Seneca’s important expression: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”


  1. Anderson, W.T. (2016). We the Planet, Evolutionary Governance and Biophilia in The Anthropocene, The Meridian International Institute.
  2. Bevir, M. (2012). Governance, A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press.
  3. Bokova, I. (2010). A New Humanism for the 21st Century, UNESCO, Milan,
  4. Capra, F and Luisi, P. L. (2014). The Systems View of Life, A Unifying Vision, Cambridge University Press, UK.
  5. Cepni, E. (2017). Transforming Education for a Transition into Human-centered Economy and Post-normal Times, Cadmus, Volume3, Issue3, October 2017.
  6. Chermack, T, J. (2011). Scenario Planning in Organizations, How to Create, Use and Assess Scenarios, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. California.
  7. Chhotray, V and Stoker, G. (2009). Governance Theory and Practice, A Cross-Disciplinary Approach, Palgrave Macmillan.
  8. Complex Adaptive Systems. (2018).
  9. Dupre, B. (2011). 50 Political Ideas You Really Need to Know, Quercus Editions Ltd,
  10. Giaoutzi, M and Sapio, B. (2013). Recent Developments in Foresight Methodologies, Springer, New York.
  11. Global Governance. (2018),
  12. Grunig, K and Kuhn, R. (2013). Successful Decision-Making, A Systematic Approach to Complex Problems, Third Edition, Springer.
  13. Kahneman, D. (2012). Thinking, Fast and Slow, Penguin Books.
  14. Learning to Live Together. (2014). UNESCO Publication.
  15. Nafzinger, E.W. (2006). Economic Development, 4th edition, Cambridge University Press.
  16. Orrell, D. (2012). Economyths, Icon Books, UK.
  17. Richest 1 percent Bagged 82 percent of Wealth Created Last Year – Poorest Half of Humanity Got Nothing.(2018). Oxfam International, 22 January 2018,
  18. Sardar, Z. (2010). Welcome to Post-normal Times, Futures, 42, 5 June 2010.
  19. Stiglitz, J, E., Ocampo, J, O., Spiegel, S., Ffrench-Davis, R., and Nayyar, D. (2006). Stability with Growth, Macroeconomics, Liberalization, and Development, Oxford University Press.
  20. Taleb, N.N. (2018). Skin in the Game, Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life, Penguin Random House.
  21. Thaler, R.H and Sunstein, C.R. (2009). Nudge, Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth & Happiness, Penguin Books, UK.
  22. Thaler, R.H. (2015). Misbehaving, the Making of Behavioral Economics, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, New York.
  23. Warburton, N. (2012). A Little History of Philosophy, Yale University Press, Great Britain.
  24. Watson, P. (2002), The Modern Mind, An Intellectual History of the 20th Century, Perennial, New York.
  25. Zajda, J. (2009). Values education in the global culture. In J. Zajda & H. Daun (Eds.), Global values education: Teaching democracy and peace. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
  26. Zakaria, F. (2009). The Post-American World, and the Rise of the Rest, Penguin Books, England.

About the Author(s)

Elif Çepni
Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science; Executive Director, Nisantasi University, Turkey; Partner, Foresight Consult