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Article
Publication date: 15 October 2008

Rafael Popper

This paper addresses a challenging topic, which in both academic and professional literatures has been widely discussed but mainly from one single angle – that is, how to

Abstract

Purpose

This paper addresses a challenging topic, which in both academic and professional literatures has been widely discussed but mainly from one single angle – that is, how to select foresight methods. From that point of view researchers and consultants promote (even if unintentionally) the use of particular methods. Here the question of selection is raised from a different perspective: how are foresight methods selected?

Design/methodology/approach

The guiding “theory” is that a better understanding of the fundamental attributes of foresight methods and their linkages to the core phases of a foresight process, together with the identification of possible patterns in the selection of methods, will provide useful insights as to how the selection of methods is carried out.

Findings

So far the selection of foresight methods has been dominated by the intuition, insight, impulsiveness and – sometimes – inexperience or irresponsibility of practitioners and organisers. This paper reveals that the selection of foresight methods (even if not always coherent or systematic) is a multi‐factor process, and needs to be considered as such.

Practical implications

The results can be utilised by lecturers and students to describe and understand better the use of foresight methods, and by organisers of foresight (including practitioners) to better inform decisions during the design of (hopefully) more coherent methodological frameworks.

Originality/value

The paper combines practical concepts and frameworks (such as the Foresight Process and the Foresight Diamond) with innovative analyses to represent and visualise better the combination of methods in 886 case studies, for example introducing the Methods Combination Matrix (MCM) to examine the dynamics of a mix of methods.

Details

Foresight, vol. 10 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 23 February 2010

Hassan Masum, Jody Ranck and Peter A. Singer

This paper aims to show through empirical examples how five foresight methods have provided value in medicine and global health, and to argue for greater use of health foresight.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to show through empirical examples how five foresight methods have provided value in medicine and global health, and to argue for greater use of health foresight.

Design/methodology/approach

Through evaluation, literature search, and personal experiences, five approaches were identified where health foresight has shown strong value: forecasting, scenario planning, Delphi, technology roadmapping, and mass collaboration. For each approach, compelling examples are given, and usage and potential discussed.

Findings

There is great opportunity to learn from and expand on past successes, and to customize foresight methods to help decision making in medicine and global health. The range of novel applications to date provides clear evidence that applying foresight methods to health can help prepare for the future, including development of policy and health interventions.

Research limitations/implications

Metrics for the impact of health foresight are not widely used, and could be a focus of future research.

Practical implications

By seeing compelling examples of diverse foresight methods in medicine and global health, readers will be better equipped to improve health systems and interventions, and prepare for future public health incidents.

Originality/value

The paper brings together discussion of a range of health foresight success stories, and suggests potential customizations of foresight for the health field. Readers who are health professionals or involved in making policy for health systems will gain a toolbox for creative planning. Readers who are foresight professionals will gain a better understanding of which foresight methods have shown value in medicine and global health, and potential refinement of foresight techniques for health applications.

Details

Foresight, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

Mika Aaltonen and T. Irene Sanders

The purpose of this research paper is to review and contrast traditional foresight methods through the lens of one of the key insights about complex adaptive systems

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research paper is to review and contrast traditional foresight methods through the lens of one of the key insights about complex adaptive systems – namely, a system's sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

Foresight methods have often been criticized about their linear way of looking at the future. Insights from complex adaptive systems research, however, provide a new theory‐driven approach for developing real foresight methods as opposed to traditional forecasting methods based primarily on linear extrapolation. This serves as a starting point for the re‐analysis and re‐classification of the foresight methods, presented profoundly in the American Council for the United Nation's University Millennium Project's Futures Research Methodology – V2.0.

Findings

The findings of the analysis show which foresight methods actually present the future as a continuation of the present, and which instead are able to identify a system's new and emerging initial conditions; and what kind of possible understanding of the system the methods offer to the user.

Research limitations/implications

This research paper provides a new perspective to reopen the discussion about the necessary qualities of foresight methods. This paper argues that instead of trying to forecast the future the foresight methods should help us to see and influence the future as it is emerging.

Practical implications

Discussion and guidelines for methodological work and an introduction of complex systems concept‐tools map, a new set of methods and the way how it could be used together with Futures Research Methodology – V2.0 represent vast implications for organizations' foresight practices.

Originality/value

The origins of novelty are two: the complex adaptive systems perspective to discuss foresight methods, and the presentation of the new set of methods to support and complement Futures Research Methodology – V2.0.

Details

Foresight, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 4 March 2014

Ekaterina A. Makarova and Anna Sokolova

The aim of this paper is to identify ways for improvement of the foresight evaluation framework on the basis of analysis and systematisation of accumulated experience in

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to identify ways for improvement of the foresight evaluation framework on the basis of analysis and systematisation of accumulated experience in the field of project management.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a detailed literature review devoted to an evaluation of foresight and traditional projects. The approaches to project evaluation in the field of project management were investigated, and the main steps of traditional project evaluation process were determined. The most commonly applied steps of foresight evaluation were identified by the analysis of recent foresight evaluation projects. The comparison of evaluation frameworks for foresight projects and traditional projects allows to provide recommendations for foresight evaluation framework improvement.

Findings

The paper identifies several lessons for foresight evaluation from project management. The elements which can enrich foresight evaluation framework are the following: the development of an evaluation model; the extensive use of quantitative methods; the elaboration of evaluation scales; the inclusion of economic indicators into evaluation; and the provision of more openness and transparency for evaluation results.

Originality/value

Given the importance of foresight evaluation procedures and the lack of a commonly applied methodological approach, the value of this paper consists in identifying a foresight evaluation framework and enriching it with elements of project management.

Details

Foresight, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 15 October 2008

Michael Keenan and Rafael Popper

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

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

Foresight, vol. 10 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 22 June 2018

Reza Hafezi, Siavosh Malekifar and Amirnaser Akhavan

Studying previous science and technology (S&T) foresight activities reveals information that helps decision makers to redesign policy-making templates aimed at dealing…

Abstract

Purpose

Studying previous science and technology (S&T) foresight activities reveals information that helps decision makers to redesign policy-making templates aimed at dealing with new millennium challenges. To propose policy recommendations about further S&T foresight programs in Iran, this paper aims to propose a three-phase process to study historical S&T foresight activities at national and sub-national level since 2005 to 2015, to analyze the state of selected activities to discover weaknesses and potential solutions and, finally, to provide strategies and tactics to improve further S&T foresight activities through an expert-based process.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides a three-stage methodology, designed to survey Iranian historical foresight practices (study) using scoping framework equipped with additional features, diagnosis and evaluating (analyze) and finally proposing recommendations to organize and implement more efficient further foresight practices (design) to initialize further practices in developing countries such as Iran.

Findings

Although concerns about future and the importance of foresight activities are raised however Iranian foresight community needs to be developed. As noted in Section 5, Iranian foresight facilitators and specialist are biased to limited methodologies and methods; therefore, creating foresight networks and developing communities is strongly recommended.

Research limitations/implications

The main constraint of this research was lack of valid data in the case of some Iranian S&T foresight programs.

Originality/value

Iran as a developing country needs to plan for long-run programs; however, there is no integrated study which reviews and analyzes the previous attempts to dedicate insights about how to reframe existing foresight paradigms. As foresight practices facilitate the paths toward sustainability, analyzing and diagnosis of a series of foresight practices in a devolving country may initialize designing such efforts in less developed world.

Details

foresight, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 28 September 2018

Ardeshir Sayah Mofazali and Katayoun Jahangiri

The human efforts to be prepared better for the future challenges of natural disasters go back ages. Natural disasters occur when a natural event, such as an earthquake…

Abstract

Purpose

The human efforts to be prepared better for the future challenges of natural disasters go back ages. Natural disasters occur when a natural event, such as an earthquake, triggers the social vulnerability. These natural disasters kill thousands of people worldwide annually and cause economic losses in millions of dollars. Moreover, the global cost of natural disasters has increased substantially, and mega-disasters occur when the need for recovery truly becomes national or international. There are several trends in nature and society, which suggest that this pattern may continue, with mega-disasters occurring more frequently in the future. In the past 100 years, the number of disasters and the number of people affected by these disasters have exponentially up surged. Thus, there is no other way to improve preparedness in a meaningful or diverse future-oriented manner.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper focuses on how to design and customize a conceptual foresight model in “disaster risk management” in Iran, and offers an executive model to help decision-makers in disaster management, through which an appropriate practical framework for the implementation of foresight has been developed.

Finding

The model has presented a possible framework for implementing a foresight practice within the context of disaster management. This paper particularly addresses different elements of a customized model, developed through a substantial literature review and comparative study for defining the suitable model in the disaster management context. The final model is validated using two rounds of the Delphi method, with the participation of national disaster management experts, practitioners and scientists.

Research limitations/implications

Although the whole model could be used all around the world, the main source of data validating the proposed model is limited to the expert’s opinions in a developing country (I. R. Iran.) and the geographical conditions of Iran are considered as a core of attention in response to natural disasters. Based on the indicators for choosing Delphi participants and experts, only 43 qualified experts are selected to validate the model. The main focus of this research is on natural disasters issues.

Practical implications

This study showed that while there has been a scattered global effort to recognize the increasing uncertainties in diverse disciplines, very little work in academic foresight has been undertaken to identify how it could be implemented. In particular, a series of factors in foresight processes is identified based on the comparative study and some additional elements are added to precisely identify the disaster management context and the most suitable model for national foresight implementation in disaster management.

Originality/value

The main value of this research paper is to clarify the exact relationship between the two interdisciplinary fields; the relationship between the key concepts of “futures studies” and “disaster management” has been thoroughly established. Also, a specific conceptual model for enriching the “pre-foresight” stage and selecting a proper “foresight approach” in “disaster management” is provided. This model has been validated through two rounds of the Delphi method. Finally, a cumulative framework of foresight patterns that includes the new model is presented to be applied in areas especially related to “natural disaster management”.

Details

foresight, vol. 20 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Abstract

Details

Governing for the Future: Designing Democratic Institutions for a Better Tomorrow
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-056-5

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Article
Publication date: 4 June 2020

James P. Kahan

The science of Foresight differs from the commonplace notion of what a science is because it is a metadiscipline – a logical type of science higher than the logical type…

Abstract

Purpose

The science of Foresight differs from the commonplace notion of what a science is because it is a metadiscipline – a logical type of science higher than the logical type of disciplinary sciences. It is practical, uses transdisciplinary processes that combine scientific disciplines and often examines counterfactuals in a scientific manner. This study aims to demonstrate that Foresight is a science, by presenting a number of best practices and potential innovations in higher education that could facilitate obtaining skills for Foresight science.

Design/methodology/approach

The methods of scientific education that have served us well in the past are inadequate for metadisciplinary sciences such as Foresight. The paper discusses what metadisciplinarity is, using a variety of examples, and distinguishes it from disciplines and ways of crossing disciplinary boundaries. Understanding the essential characteristics of Foresight as a metadisciplinary science leads to identifying current best practices and possible educational innovations in undergraduate education that will facilitate obtaining Foresight skills. Throughout the paper, examples are drawn from the education and professional experience of the author in the USA and Europe.

Findings

This paper demonstrates that Foresight is a science and presents a number of best practices and potential innovations in higher education that could facilitate obtaining skills for Foresight science. It identifies barriers to those innovations and approaches to overcome them.

Originality/value

This viewpoint paper clarifies the meaning of the terms interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity and metadisciplinarity to identify the essential characteristics of Foresight as a science. Then, it identifies and advocates needed changes in North American higher education to provide earlier and more efficient opportunities for Foresight researchers and users to obtain the skills they need.

Details

foresight, vol. 22 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2010

Jan Erik Karlsen, Erik F. Øverland and Hanne Karlsen

This article aims to contribute to futures theory building by assessing the inherent ontological and epistemological presumptions in foresight studies. Such premises

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to contribute to futures theory building by assessing the inherent ontological and epistemological presumptions in foresight studies. Such premises, which are usually embedded in foresight studies, are contrasted with sociological imagination and contemporary social science discourse.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is a conceptual analysis of theoretical assumptions embedded in foresight studies.

Findings

Sociological lenses, including concepts like anticipation, latency, time, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, change and plurality of images, offer clarity in terms of both futures studies and foresights.

Research limitations/implications

Explicating presumptions embedded in foresight methods helps recognition of how such methods shape the concepts of future and time. This is vital for assessment of the analytical products of foresights studies.

Originality/value

This research contributes to the ambition of linking the theoretical world of futures research and the practical world of foresights closer together by explicating key concepts and implicit assumptions in both fields.

Details

Foresight, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

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