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Comparing foresight “style” in six world regions

Michael Keenan (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Rafael Popper (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 15 October 2008




The paper sets out to explore the nature and degree of variation in foresight “style” across six world regions. The underlying hypothesis is that differences in regional context – in terms of political, socio‐economic, and cultural conditions – will affect foresight “style”. At the same time, a secondary hypothesis acknowledges that policy tool transfer and international learning might soften the influence of contextual conditions.


Using the data collected for more than 800 foresight exercises in six world regions, the paper considers eight different dimensions of foresight “style”, including domain coverage, time horizon, target groups, and methods used. It interprets regional differences (and similarities) with reference to dominant political and economic traditions in each region. In so doing, it tests the hypothesis that foresight “style” is influenced by regional context.


The analysis suggests that some foresight “style” dimensions vary between regions more than others. For example, there is marked variation in the domain areas covered by foresight across the world, while some regions appear to prefer particular methods over others. Time horizons also vary. For other dimensions, such as participation levels and the identity of target groups, there is a good deal of similarity. Thus, some dimensions of “style”, at least at the aggregate level, seem to be more influenced by regional context than others.


The paper is unique in being the first publication to survey such a large sample of foresight activity across a wide part of the globe.



Keenan, M. and Popper, R. (2008), "Comparing foresight “style” in six world regions", Foresight, Vol. 10 No. 6, pp. 16-38.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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