Oxford Futures Library

Sainsbury Library, Saïd Business School


The Oxford Futures Library is part of the collection of the Sainsbury Library, the University of Oxford’s dedicated Business and Management library.

It houses the Pierre Wack Memorial Library and the Boucher Futures Research Library, gifted to Green Templeton College by Napier Collyns and Dr Angela Wilkinson. Green Templeton College and Saïd Business School acknowledge their generous support in bringing these collections to Oxford.

These two significant and complementary collections consist of nearly 6,000 items relating to futures and scenario planning practice and research. Together, they provide a unique and valuable insight into the nascence and continuing resonance of the discipline and its architects. To find out more about the history of scenario planning, read this short article by Professor Rafael Ramírez.

The library also includes the Art Kleiner Archive, a collection of letters, reports and other documents which was donated by renowned author, journalist and editorial consultant Art Kleiner to Green Templeton College, and deposited in the Oxford Futures Library. Green Templeton College and Saïd Business School are grateful for the generous donation of this distinct archive.

Recently I spent two full days in the Oxford Futures Library to conduct research. This library is indispensable for all scenario planners, business strategists and also, I might add, for those working on organizational studies such as behaviour, culture and climate. During my visit I focused my research on how companies like Shell organized past scenario workshops, questioning whether they took into consideration ethical issues during the process, as well as, on the institutionalization of scenario planning in companies as a means to contribute to an ethical culture. Finally, I looked into Pierre Wack’s archives where unique content on scenario planning can be found and where I consulted letters, articles and early drafts and notes from Peter Senge, Kees van der Heijden and Napier Collyns. I just wish that I had had more time to dig deeper into Pierre Wack’s archives and move on to Art Kleiner’s archives, which I believe are also important for my work due to Kleiner’s contributions on corporate culture, business ethics and leadership.

I would hope to come back soon to Oxford and arrange to spend more time in the Oxford Futures Library. This is an important and fundamental resource for both early stage and experienced scenario planners and also, for students, professionals and researchers in general, anyone involved in scenario planning and future studies.

Rodrigo Dal Borgo, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow, PhD candidate and Assistant Researcher
Centre for Applied Ethics, University of Deusto, Bilbao

Pierre Wack Library is a place where historians can find Wack’s personal papers and his personal library. The archive constitutes a unique tool which allows us to approach the way Pierre Wack thought and how he elaborated his method: scenario planning. So, from a methodological point of view, the Pierre Wack Library is an asset supporting the importance of the biographical genre in history research.

Moreover, for social scientists and human scientists, the Pierre Wack Library is a fabulous window on our recent business and political history.

Muriel Le Roux, Historian of science, technology and innovation
IHMC, Paris

In my dissertation I analyze the concept of ‘plausibility’ in scenario planning. This requires me to look into both practice-led contributions and scholarly literature on scenarios.

Oftentimes this literature is spread across different libraries and online databases. The Oxford Futures Library allowed me to go back to early references to plausibility used in correspondences and notes of Pierre Wack and other futurists. My research benefitted from browsing ‘central readings’ as well as practitioners’ reports in the library.

Ricarda Scheele, MSc, PhD candidate, Member of Scientific Staff, ZIRIUS
Stuttgart Research Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies, University of Stuttgart

The Pierre Wack Memorial Library (established by Napier Collyns and Kees van der Heijden with a partnership between Green Templeton College and the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford) was officially opened in May 2014 as part of the Oxford Futures Library. The vast collection of documents and resources it contains were essential to the research and writing of my latest book, Foundations of Scenario Planning: The Story of Pierre Wack. The other collections in the library (the Boucher Futures Library and the Art Kleiner Archive) contain many additional resources that will be of great interest to anyone studying scenarios or the history of Futures as a discipline.

Thomas J. Chermack, Professor of Organizational Learning, Performance and Change
Colorado State University, USA

I first discovered the Oxford Futures Library at Egrove Park when I visited Professor Rafael Ramírez in July-August 2017.

At that time, I was greatly in need of more references and historical accounts of how scenario planning had emerged and evolved since the 1950’s.

My ‘quest’ was motivated by my intention to build my own path and develop my own version of scenario planning so that it would align with the expectations of the organizations I had been working with in Switzerland.

What I found in the Futures Library exceeded my expectations. Not only did I discover unique, original work by Pierre Wack, but I also had access to a wealth of general management literature that I would have otherwise not necessarily connected with scenario planning.

Let’s face it too: there is no other place for the Futures Library than at the Saïd Business School, it acts as a hub for visiting scholars such as myself as well as the ever growing number of talented individuals who attend the Oxford Scenarios Programme.

The Futures Library is a must see for anyone who has the drive and passion to contribute to the field of scenario planning.

Thomas Gauthier, Professor of Strategy
Haute école de gestion de Genève and Emlyon Business School