The objective of this paper is to analyse how much the traditions of history research (HR) and futures research (FR) have in common and how they could assist each other. First, the role of time is analysed. Second, the path dependence theory, strategic decision-making, knowledge management and visionary management are discussed. Examples of the application of the latter in water and sanitation services and their long-term development are shown. Finally, some argumented views are presented on how the convergence between FR and HR could be improved.The key point of this research is the seeming discontinuity between presents, recent pasts and near futures. The traditions of HR probably make it more difficult to assess the effects of strategic decisions on the recent. If more convergence is wanted, the gap should be filled somehow. On the other hand, the core of FR research seems to concentrate more on strategic and visionary horizons while perhaps neglecting the operational horizon of the near future. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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