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A General Theory of Planning: The Evolution of
Planning and the Planning of Evolution
Roger M. Troub

Planning is a ubiquitous human activity. It inheres in economic pro cesses and crucially determines their nature and consequences. Any form
of social organization requires correlation of potential differential be haviors and coordination of ongoing activities. The same technological
development that permits and drives economic development requires that
behavioral structures become more complex. Planning processes evolve
toward greater complexity.
As the number of different organizations and activities undertaken
through them increases, the importance of interdependencies cumulates,
and the significance, number, and complexity of planning processes grow.
At some threshold, new planning processes become possible, and at an other they become required for further developmental progress.
The United States economy is now commonly referred to as a service
economy. It is increasingly common to refer to it also as an information
economy. Much of the service activity involves decision making for others
by hired agents, or counsel about prospective decisions, or transfers and
generation of information. This portion of the service economy is part of
the information economy. Information for what purposes—the conjunct
purposes of design, planning, and decision making.
Contemporary policy perspectives are drawn largely from thought
about the simpler societies of the past. Notions of market and central plan ning processes as sufficient or exhaustive have become very costly, if not
The author is Professor of Economics, Texas Tech University, Lubbock. This
article was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Evolutionary
Economics, Washington, D.C., 28-30 December 1981.


Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved

professional counsels or vicegerents. more accurate comprehensions of social planning processes are needed. in the second individuals make decisions for others for whom they are agents (as employees. New. and use it to ex amine the evolution of planning. can be planned. and so on). motivation for it. human planning is a set of negotiations to determine prospective activities in pursuit of future circumstances currently preferred by actors with capacities to influence the outcomes. and the vast literature devoted to it. It may be undertaken consciously or unconsciously and social planning processes include as well as transcend those of individuals. and types of planning in societal processes. and in the third individuals participate in decision making by organizations in which they hold membership (actively if accorded some sort of franchise. in turn. what planning processes do. to draw some implications for contemporary perspectives on policy. (2) identification of the general characteristics of the modes. This article will sketch a general theory of planning. trustees. A General Theory of Planning The requirements for a general theory of planning include: (1) specification of what planning is. From the general theory. In the first role individuals make decisions for self (with expected effects on others deemed relevant to the individual taken into account). Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved . the author will draw a thesis about the evolution of planning. agential. The substance of planning encompasses all human choosing in which future conditions are taken into account. reactively or passively if not) . evolution in a new mode. Despite the enormous. and (3) delineation of the domain of interactions among different planning units and processes and of the major structural contours of those interactions.382 Roger M. which. levels. Troub dangerous. and the actors in them. no truly general theory of planning has emerged. and collective. Each of these will be dealt with tersely and in quintessential terms. are major determinants of the opportunity sets and criteria sets perceived by individuals as relevant to themselves. The actors are humans in three decision roles: personal. the context in which they arise. and to raise the question of whether selfconscious societal evolution. The choices made by individuals in all three roles involve the major determinants of the nature and activities of the various organizations of the society. growing importance of planning. Planning and Its Social Systems Setting In the most general terms. representatives.

interorganizational games. and Major Contours of Planning Unit Interactions It is useful to think of the set of social planning processes as involving a variety of interacting positive sum. act in and through and on organizations and urge organizational purposes consistent with their own. and types of planning undertaken. What planning processes do in that context is negotiate individual and organizational behaviors. Planning is a set of negotiations in the sense that. and Types of Planning MODES OF PLANNING.I Evolution of Planning 383 Humans are purposive creatures. interpersonal games. This context defines the domain of planning process interactions.1 Individuals are creative tension drawn and driven. They are directly associated with the modes. and about creation of new games. The Context. The major contours of planning unit interactions are defined by processes of contracting and recontracting about activities within rules of existing games. Modes. about the rules of the games. in its most general form. in response to their motivations. static one. They seek harmonious integration of mostly unconscious but importantly felt perceptions of incongruity and incompleteness. The general motivation for planning is simply the pursuit of human purposes. Those of a complex. levels. The more specific nature of planning unit interactions depends upon the nature of the social organization. Domain. intraorganizational games. negotiation is a process of determining what future circumstances will be sought to be created given present circumstance perceptions and expectations about alternative prospective circumstances. biological. the cognitive Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved . and negative-sum games: intrapersonal games. As a social process. and organization-nature games. dynamic society differ greatly from those of a simple. Both implicit and explicit contracts are formed through processes of negotiation which generate conscious or unconscious mutual acceptance of expected behaviors in social organizational roles. The essential modes can be divided into three groups. Levels. personsocial organization games. The first contains methods of conscious deliberation. 2 This is the systemic context in which planning arises—interactions of cooperation and contention within societal subsystems and among physical. zero-sum. Organizations do not. Individuals. and social processes. Individuals have motives. person-nature games. planning incorporates the use of power by the actors involved to deal with conflicts of belief and interest.

innovational adaptation (Type II) . The simplistic and mythical forms of the market and master models involve a fallacy of the excluded middle. along with for mal or informal superordinate organizations for coordination of subso cietal actors' plans and activities.and interorganizational dynamics that go largely unrecognized and unaccounted for. At least four types of planning can be identified: some extant. PLANNING UNIT LEVELS AND INTERACTIONS. but none extinct. or hybridized modes through activities by units ranging from the individual to the superordinate organizational level. some emergent. In a simple. In the former. and creative design of a chosen future (Type IV) .384 Roger M. The extreme paradigms of societal planning processes are those of market and master. The third group contains hybridizations of cognitive and nescient modes. primitive society Type I planning predominates. Cognitation is only a portion of the human struggle with incongruity and incompleteness. the superordinate organization is a centralized decisiontaking process that specifies expected performance roles to subordinate organizations which. In the latter. Market planning systems are hybridized modes. The essential types of planning are differentiated in terms of the planning unit's capacity to control the systems that com prise it and with which it interacts. 3 Planning processes are from bottom to top. TYPES OF PLANNING. Planning activities of which the participants are unaware is a sec ond group. Within a society there is a mix of planning types. It is in the middle where the "real action" is. As societies become more com- Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved . specify them for their members. of completely decentralized or centralized decision making. the nescient mode. in turn. cognitive. the superordinate organization for the suppression of conflict and the harmonization of individual and subsocietal organiza tional behaviors is an informal. I refer to them in awkward but descriptive terms: preadaptation (Type I) . a matter highly dependent upon knowl edge. implicit one—the overall workings of interacting market processes. Troub mode. Interposed between individuals and superordinate or ganizational forms is a host of informal and formal intra. The plan ning process is from top to bottom. These organizations and their individual members are planning units in a society. Human societies are sets of institutions (correlated individual structures of belief about so-called facts and values) which engender sets of formal and informal organiza tions (correlated behavioral roles and patterns) . The various types may operate in nescient. com plex anticipatory design (Type III) . although occasional instances of Type II planning also occur.

Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved .] Complex anticipatory design (Type III planning) is based upon information about interacting systems in the future. 6 The value referent of the decision unit is another important dimension of planning. This requires creation of control systems for application to one or more existing systems. additional types are introduced. This information is obtained through consideration of the dynamic inter action of processes and systems. It involves creation of dominant systems and processes. [conservation of water]. . . and combinations of them) which permit a measure of control over future events. information different from that of [simple] projections of behavior of individual existing systems. such as . . Type IV planning (creative design of a chosen dynamic future) requires knowledge and ability to control determining aspects of the [systems] relevant to the actor in a fashion which permits conscious creation of novel dynamic futures. either a prophecy or a technological prediction may provide information that no rain is to be expected for several days. A higher level of "prediction" drawn from the dynamic integration of technological predictions is required.]. and the proportions of the types in the mix changes. 5 Planning involves the design of significant control over some of the [pertinent] systems . . Technological prediction of the behavior of individual processes . Innovational adaptation (Type II) involves the ability to use knowledge from technological predictions to fashion devices (hardware. then "B" propositions) . Type III planning signifi cantly changes important aspects of the actor's prospective milieu [—and the actor is aware of some of them and takes them into account in the planning process.Evolution of Planning 385 plex. and planning associated with that information may lead to a variety of preadaptations. as opposed to the creation of adaptive control systems (Type H planning) or creation of control systems to guide and alter the out comes associated with anticipated interaction of existing dominant sys tems and processes (Type III planning) . Contemporary examples include efforts at planning new cities and at planning new energy sources and mixes. It is the set of beliefs about what should and should not be. . The information can come from either prophecy or technological predictions (if "A". Since the planner has no control over the expected future event (absence of rainfall). . [Examples include such things as automatic sprinkler systems to provide "artificial rain" and na tional income accounting to aid counter-cyclical economic policy. software. . the adequacy of planning depends upon the ade quacy of the preadaptation identified as appropriate [and feasible]. . is necessary but insufficient. . I have summarized the four types in the following terms: Preadaptive planning (Type 1) can be undertaken on the basis of information about future events over which the planner has no control. . . . in a manner which directs the complex of interacting systems through time toward outcomes preferable to those which otherwise would have resulted. 4 For example. conceptual ones.

implicitly if not explicitly. With growth in the scope and number of Type III planning activities. Individuals in their three decision roles urge negotiated reconciliation. The power and perceived trustworthiness of proposers of new innovations decreases. As technologies become more complex. often in nescient fash- Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved . the mix of structural elements in a society's set of planning processes changes.? Participatory decision making. but this is not so for Type III. and I suspect from III to IV. It entails social processes of choice among consciously created future values. Initiators of change. Societal Evolution and the Evolution of Planning In feudal societies and agriculturally based empires. phase two. deciding. II to III. Anxiety. little is known. mounts. and that of planners and analysts who "take values as givens" diminishes from that of demi-priests to that of mere technicians. with its source in unconscious feelings that no one competent or trustworthy is in charge. consciousness increases not only of the importance of value referents.386 Roger M. It is a basic determinant of what is sought. for whom. with more potential for inconsistency. recognize the possibility of significant effects on themselves and their value referents and those of others. pressures to include in the planning process all those affected by the planned activities (participatory decision making) grow and foster negotiations that include. In democratic societies. It becomes progressively more complex. begins to emerge. As the network of technology and social or ganization interactions both become more complex. and doing. but also of the need to include possible impacts on the value structure in plan ning processes themselves. of course. Troub structured according to perceptions of hierarchical associations among them. For Types I and II the value referent is not explicitly called into consideration. or social organization fails. with movement from planning Type I to II. A significant implication derives. or others affected by decisions taken from their planning processes. social organization must also to accommodate them. a matter about which. how. and who decides. An important transformation in the role of the value refer ent commences. by whom. Type IV planning is probably even more unsettling to old ways of be lieving. Type I processes undertaken by both individuals and organizations. The Evolution of Planning Planning processes evolve with societal systems. influences on value referents.

society. fragmentary capacities for Type IV planning in contexts of substantial scope. the optimal planning structure changes. predominate. Simple-minded policies to reduce the significance of formal governmental activities and shift decision making to the personal level. even greater use of cognitive modes.Evolution of Planning 387 ion. Over the past several decades the locus of decision making paths in the United States has moved. physicians. The myth of bottom-up. That route would be very costly. Movement through post-industrial society generates perceptions of exigency and incipient. state. and greater importance of interorganizational coordination. and international levels has ex panded rapidly. and so on) has multiplied. Some Implications for Contemporary Circumstances Decisions made through all roles and at all levels interact to determine the opportunity sets and criteria sets of individuals. The number of hired professional decision-makers-for-others ( consul tants. increased importance of choices made by and for formal governmental agencies. the number of non-trivial decisions grown. and the relative importance of decision roles shifted. and more cognitive planning is done within industrial organizations. wears thin. stockbrokers. national. potentials grow for greater control over interacting systems of importance. Economic development has simultaneously expanded the effec tive choice sets of individuals. Bureaucratic structures have grown in both public and "private" sectors. As knowledge accumulates. A more appro priate endeavor is identification of the optimum structure of decision mak ing processes for contemporary circumstances. and increased the responsibility of individuals in agency decision making roles. and the number of collective decisions with important externalities and interdependencies at local. Transformation of potentials into ac tualities requires use of more complex and comprehensive planning processes. that is. attorneys. It omits or suppresses much of what is Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved . Legions of individuals are employed in them as managers or in a wide variety of other agential roles. As the technological and institutional structures evolve. More Type II planning is added with transformation to and through early industrial society. while ignoring the importance of agency and participatory processes. the importance of intraorganiza tional planning increases. is foolhardy at best. and subsocietal organizations. of the predomi nance of individual choices in personal and collective decision roles voting with dollars and ballots as all-determining. Evolution to post-industrial society produces need for complex anticipatory designs. but does not necessitate centrally designed and executed packages.

This implication is not yet widely recognized. Market processes do many things well and. Troub required for planning processes efficacious in pursuit of enhanced wellbeing. Movement from market theology to ongoing. however.388 Roger M. especially in combination. and then the special case of human social evolu tion. but markets are always designed—by nescient processes if not cognitive ones. Although many processes are incorporated within the general context. changing processes involving institutions (belief structures as to "fact and value" that en gender continuously recreated or transformed organized behaviors) and the associated organizational structures (in which individuals play the three decision roles to one extent or another). is. Boulding identifies additive. But senior types have not been destroyed by their strange progeny—at least not yet. Much has been learned." holds significant promise. Contemporary belief structures obscure its existence and importance. suggests a need for fruitful processes to simultaneously plan technological and organizational change. if appropriately designed. Supplantation of market processes is not indicated either. Significant changes in their perception. Each prior type somehow generated potential for the next and provided catalyst sparks for its initiation. coex istent types of evolution. Nevertheless. planning unit interaction net works. large in scale and scope. Type III planning. design. One of the important and unnoticed areas of technological advance in recent years has been that of market process technology—knowledge of how to design and use markets as tools for particular purposes in particular settings. in negotiational interactions (games) that encompass various modes. The potential for this is being generated rapidly. as opposed to just "leaving it to the market. and types of planning. Inti dari dinamika masyarakat adalah seperangkat proses perubahan yang melibatkan lembaga dan struktur organisasi terkait yang dimana individu berperan memainkan Kenneth Boulding's profound insights that evolution itself evolves and that what evolves in all evolutionary processes is know-how are highly suggestive. the transcendent and suffusive processes are evolutionary.° First came processes of physical evolution. operational use of effective market technology. and much more needs to be. and use are required. The Planning of Evolution Societal Dynamics and the Emerging Evolutionary Paradigm Dinamika masyarakat dan kemunculan evolusi pemikiran The essence of societal dynamics is a set of ongoing. . then of biological evolution. Increased utility from them. What is required is cognitive design and location within the overall set of planning processes. The notion of design of market processes may strike adherents to classical market theology as preposterous. can do more than many recognize.

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self-conscious evolution involving introduction of Type IV planning efforts. creative "experiments"--a self-conscious mode through which Type IV planning could operate more widely. artifacts are cascading forth in a fantastic pro fusion of type and number." This is all highly conjec tural. These organisms are patentable. and they are evolving entirely new biological organisms. we are in the midst of post-industrial society and can't even agree that we know enough about it to name it anything other than that-which-comes-after-industrial. Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved . Given what is occurring. (3 ) of what should happen to us. perhaps the conjecture should be moved to hypothesis. After all. Humans are evolving a host of non-living beings. and are badly in need of attractive images of possible alternate futures. Continued human progress requires (1) more accurate comprehension of what is happening to us. produced by both public and private enterprise. More recently humans have created pseudolife. has been underway at a rapid rate for several centuries now. and (4) the creation and use of the required conceptual and organizational technology—the pri mary tools of envisioning. Perhaps the hypothesis should be moved to thesis and entered into the marketplace for ideas. social evolution. and fashioning the human role structures needed for pursuit of the better. of course. Concluding Remarks One thing seems clear. and artificial intelligence seems to be on its way. Serious negotiations are in progress about whether to limit endeavors which may lead to humans evolving thmselves biologically. It also suggests that a fourth mode of evolution may be developing. The third evolutionary mode. In this setting. (2) of what can hap pen to us. does not appear too surprising. evaluating. and contracted for and sold in markets. More recently humans have consciously evolved a host of chemical compounds and new physical elements not yet found in nature. Nevertheless. there is more than ample evidence to support a mere conjectural projection. growing poten tial for a fourth mode of evolution. formulating. ranging from crude homemade bombs to interplanetary space vehicles. Humans became proficient at plan ning the evolution of domesticated plants and animals long ago. Moreover. one characterized by conscious selection from and control over the number and nature of a variety of complex.Evolution of Planning 389 A Fourth Mode of Evolution? This suggests a larger holistic process. Computers carry on conversations of sorts. learning. we are in times in which special importance obtains for conjecture about the future.

Perloff. and Sociocultural Evolution (Boulder.. "A Changing World Demands a Changing Economics." World Future Society Bulletin 11 (May-June 1977) : 8-9. Roger M. op. 1980). Erich Jantsch. Banfield. A discussion of planning matters very similar to Type III is provided by Hasan Ozbekhan. Edward C. Troub.. In market mythology little attention is given to the inherent incapacity of market processes for the prior generation of the institutional structures. Ecodynamics: A New Theory of Societal Evolution (Beverly Hills. He proposes introduction of what he calls transactive planning. 7.390 Roger M. 1978). and wellbeing of people. Tugwell. cit. A central notion is dialogue between those affected and the experts involved in planning processes so that knowledge employed for planning implicitly incorporates value concerns. and Jantsch's The Self-Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution (New York: Pergamon Press. 1973-74) : 62-80. 2. has also been articulated by Erich Jantsch. Boulding. in his Economic and Social Development: A Process of Social Learning (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press. Edgar Dunn. a student of Rexford G. California: Sage Publications. Jr. John Friedman. 6. The ideal society can be conceived of as one which promotes positive sum. creativity. Beverly Hills. cites Karl Popper on prophecy and technological predictions and then discusses their relationships with planning in "conventional science. One is or ganizational dynamics inimical to the productivity. See his Design for Evolution (New York: George Braziller. 3. Biological. in a new book (Evolutionary Economics. 10. There are at least three major dimensions of social sickness. more limited as I perceive it. creative games in all individual and organizational interactions. Something of this nature. uses the evolutionary ecological paradigm for reinterpretation and extension of economic science. Troub Notes 1." His discussion of the "modes of planning" includes the first type of planning discussed here and some aspects of the second. California: Sage Publications. 1975). N. and Harvey S. 5. 1971). See Kenneth Boulding. 8. 1981) . and a third is insufficient use of knowable information.Y. Boulding. 1980) . Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved . Another is individual preference structures which harbor malevolence or omit benevolent concern for the welfare of others. New visions of evolutionary processes are being introduced as candidates for a prime integrating paradigm for the sciences. "The Emerging Methodology of Planning.: Anchor Press/Doubleday. 4." Fields within Fields 10 (Winter. 9. ed. The Evolutionary Vision: Toward a Unifying Paradigm of Physical. sees contemporary crises of valuing and knowing (Retracking America [Garden City. Colorado: Westville Press. 1973] ).

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