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EFP Brief No. 262: Transdisciplinary Foresight – Co-Creating Research Agendas Using Multi-Actor Engagement

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

This brief provides methodological insights and lessons learned from experiences with a forward looking multi-actor engagement method that supplies policy advice for framework conditions of research and development (R&D): CIVISTI – Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation. This qualitative demand-side method cross-links knowledge of lay persons, experts and stakeholders. A national case study on the future of food illustrates the process with exemplary results.

Combining Knowledge

Results of futures studies are often controversial, divergent or even contradictory, and thus become contested (Grunwald 2014). As technological change is rapid, expert anticipation beyond short-term prediction is highly arbitrary. There is a need for broadening the (political) debate on socio-technological development since many actors within the current debate focus on expressing the promise of multiple added values – economic and social – of technological progress. Such a socio-technical imaginary may prescribe a future that seems attainable to the ones involved in the visioning process (Jasanoff/Kim 2009). However, other possible futures may then become less likely and shaping them could become more difficult. Here, engaging citizens as well as involving experts and stakeholders may serve for combining different types of knowledge to build desirable, socially robust futures.

Within this setting, it may be alleviating to ask how the future should look like, instead of merely developing deterministic models to predict how the future will be. Such desirable prospects may then serve as stimulant for the contemporary discourse on governing innovations actively and responsibly in terms of responding to societal needs and challenges.

Forward looking multi-actor engagement

In this brief we will present and discuss a forward looking multi-actor engagement method that allows for integrating different kinds of knowledge of multiple actor groups into Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) programme development.

CIVISTI – Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation

The transdisciplinary, qualitative foresight method CIVISTI is a demand-side approach that identifies societal demands for future developments. Applying the method creates a space where different actors can become mutually responsive to each other. Hereby, it supports what Warnke and Heimeriks (2008) describe as a continuous policy learning process that is not predetermined but open to foster the development of a system which may cope with future uncertainties. “The CIVISTI method is based upon the idea that the process of defining relevant and forward-looking research and innovation agendas could, in many respects, be improved by including consultations with citizens in their development. The method uses citizens’ concerns about societal development as a stepping stone for developing priorities in research programmes” (Engage 2020 2015).

Generally, the method relies on three recursive steps: (1) citizens develop visions of desirable futures, (2) experts elaborate recommendations on the basis of the visions, and (3) these results are then presented again to the citizens for validation before they are presented to addressees (Gudowsky 2012). The method was developed during an FP7 project (2008–2011), tested in seven countries and aimed at creating recommendations for European R&D policy, namely Horizon 2020 (civisti.org). Afterwards, several adaptations to international, national and regional level as well as to different topics took place (e.g. Gudowsky/Sotoudeh 2015a, b). The design and organization of the creative vision building and assessment in the CIVISTI method allows for the integration of citizens’ tacit knowledge alongside experts’ and stakeholders’ knowledge into framing R&D agendas.

Case Study: Future Foods

The participatory foresight study “Future Foods for Men and Women” engaged citizens, experts and stakeholders to discuss the future of the (Austrian) food system (2013-2016). The study uncovered emerging issues and future challenges, including matters of food safety, production, processing, distribution and consumption, before elaborating scenarios which depict the main findings of the transdisciplinary process. Aimed at proactively shaping the long-term research program of the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), results are also relevant to decision-makers in innovation and food policy as well as research and development experts and engineers (www.ages.at/futurefoods/).

In 2014 Citizens in four different regions in Austria developed visions of the food system with a view to a desirable future in 30 to 40 years. Information material was developed by the AGES communication team to inspire citizens to think about future food safety. Five creative workshops with 20 to 25 participants each took place in Vienna (twice), Linz, Graz and Innsbruck. Participants were chosen according to standardized criteria (age, education, occupation, sex, city/country residence) to achieve a composition of maximum heterogeneity. Based on values, hopes and fears incorporated in their visions, multidisciplinary teams of experts and stakeholders related to AGES formulated tangible recommendations for research programs. Visions and recommendations were then merged in scenarios to facilitate the communication of results to citizens and decision makers at a later stage. Scenarios were presented for validation and prioritization to ensure legitimacy of results. A final policy workshop engaged policy makers to ensure that results were applicable to current program building (see table 1).

Table1

Resource Conservation and Partial Self-Sufficiency

There are several intermediate results (e.g. visons, recommendations, scenarios), which can only be presented as excerpts. The analysis of visions showed that some similar topics were discussed in several forums. The topic of education and awareness has played an essential role not only in visions in all forums, but also in experts’ recommendations which are based on the visions.

Exemplary citizens’ vision

Vision title: “Production of food is not only based on economic profits”

Different areas of actions:

  1. Trade and production: new values for farming and production like sustainability, regional criteria, low overproduction, good distribution of the resources in all areas
  2. Consumer: personal responsibility, knowledge and social values are important
  3. Employees: max. 30 hours of work per week, more holidays
  4. Environment: resource-oriented, seasonal products

What are the benefits and advantages associated with the vision?

  • Food for more (all) people
  • Protection of environment and climate through organic farming
  • Local production will increase
  • Healthy food for the people

Themes and values to be considered that have been identified in this vision are: Regional cultivation, a critical look at global structures, new employment models, resolution of urban structures.

Exemplary experts’ recommendation

Experts’ recommendation that addressed this vision is named as “Paradigm Shift”:

The society learns to reduce consumption and do without over-sited grocery stores, etc.

We learn to use agricultural know-how and to take processing and preservation into account (away from greenhouse, agriculture that is too extensive). Challenges and issues to be addressed:

  • Paradigm shift for all operators (consumer, producer)
  • Solidarity as a prerequisite
  • Timeframes of the recommendations depend on environmental factors and natural disasters
Scenarios

Citizens’ visions and experts’ recommendations were used to build comprehensive scenarios for the years 2035 to 2050.

Scenario 1

This scenario describes “A paradigm shift by means of using the knowledge of resource conservation in agriculture.” The scenario is based on the following framework conditions:

  • Wide dissemination of agricultural know-how, knowledge of resource conservation, storage facilities and food preservation.
  • Partial self-sufficiency of cities with sufficient green areas by promoting “urban gardening”.
  • Redesign of urban areas suitable for agricultural use and governing of voluntary work.
  • Consumer awareness on protection of the environment through reduction of overconsumption of resources.

In this scenario two main situations compared with existing conditions are distinguished: Voluntary society (Scenario 1a) and strengthening governance of markets (Scenario 1b).

Scenario 2

This scenario is focussed on “consumers’ free choices supported by precise information on products in the free market. This scenario assumes the following framework conditions:

  • Global production
  • Advanced digitisation of product information
  • A focus on individual consumer’s self-determination

The impact of the scenarios’ framework conditions on the lives of two protagonists was illustrated in approximately 30 sub-scenarios. Citizens validated this set sub-scenarios as well as the scenarios itself. Based on this validation experts developed recommendations for research and policy (forthcoming).

Establishing Networks with Addressees as a Success Factor

A particular strength of the project was the close connection of the process to a large body of expertise, namely AGES. This guaranteed access to a group of experts and stakeholders who are directly involved in education, research and health security as well as policy, thus allowing for defining recommendations. As a result, experts were motivated to engage in interdisciplinary discussions, which in turn facilitated the interdisciplinary working phase and the expert/stakeholder workshop.

In order for the process to be able to connect different forms of knowledge, an essential criterion is for experts to have experience in transdisciplinary work and respect citizens’ visions as a basis for the process. Another strength are the main addressees of results, i.e. AGES itself, who closely collaborated within the process. Con-sequently, results are more likely to be considered and therefore have an impact on e.g. the long-term research agenda. This is especially important since a lack of close connection to relevant addressees can represent a major challenge to such a participatory process.

The key success factor is the design of creative and well-functioning communication at each phase. This case study held five citizen consultations in four different cities, which opened the possibility for optimization of the process and allowed for comparison of results based on the same information material and method. The method delivers new knowledge and cross-links different existing forms of knowledge, but should also be understood as a comprehensive communication method; as a result there is the need for sufficient resources, i.e. training of moderators, preparation of information material, time for assessing visions and recommendations. If these resources and competencies are not available, it may be more useful to work with small focus groups.

Outlook

The presented method is further developed and applied within the project CIMULACT – Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020 (www.cimulact.eu), which aims at shaping EU as well as national science, technology and innovation policies through agenda setting based on societal needs by engaging more than 1000 citizens, several stakeholder groups as well as policy makers in 30 European countries.

Authors: Niklas Gudowsky  niklas.gudowsky@oeaw.ac.at    Mahshid Sotoudeh    msotoud@oeaw.ac.at
Sponsors: FFG – Austrian Research Promotion Agency
Type: Methodological discussion
Organizer: Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria; www.oeaw.ac.at/ita
Duration: 03/2013 – 02/2016
Budget: € 250.000-300.000
Date of Brief: June 2016

Download EFP Brief No. 262: Transdisciplinary Foresight – Co-Creating Research Agendas Using Multi-Actor Engagement

Sources and References

Grunwald, A., 2014: Modes of orientation provided by futures studies: making sense of diversity and divergence. In: European Journal of Futures Research (2014), 15:30, DOI 10.1007/s40309-013-0030-5

Jasanoff, S.; Kim, S., 2009: Containing the Atom: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Nuclear Power in the United States and South Korea. Minerva 47, (2009) pp. 119-146

Engage 2020 (2015) Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation (CIVISTI) in: Engage2020 – Tools and instruments for a better societal engagement in “Horizon 2020”, D3.2 Public Engagement Methods and Tools, p.32-37; http://engage2020.eu/media/D3-2-Public-Engagement-Methods-and-Tools-3.pdf, last accessed 21.02.2016

Gudowsky, N., Peissl, W., Sotoudeh, M., Bechtold, U., (2012) Forward-looking activities: incorporating citizens’ visions, Poiesis & Praxis, 9, pp. 101-123.

Gudowsky, Niklas; Sotoudeh, Mahshid (2015a) Citizens’ Visions on Active Assisted Living. In: Hayn, Dieter; Schreier, Günter; Ammenwerth, Elske; Hörbst, Alexander (Hrsg.), eHealth2015 – Health Informatics Meets eHealth; Amsterdam: IOS Press, S. 43-49.

Gudowsky, N.; Bechtold, U.; Capari, L.; Sotoudeh, M. (2015) Participatory Foresight – Experiences with a Qualitative Demand Side Approach. In: Technology Centre ASCR, (Hrsg.), The Next Horizon of Technology Assessment. Proceedings from the PACITA 2015 Conference in Berlin; Prague, S. 139-143 & S. 426.

Gudowsky, Niklas; Sotoudeh, Mahshid; Drott, Felice (2015b) Future foods – a transdisciplinary prospect of the (Austrian) food system. In: Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (Zagreb), (Hrsg.), Proceedings of the 10th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, S. 1-8.

Warnke, P., Heimeriks, G. (2008). Technology Foresight as Innovation Policy Instrument: Learning from Science and Technology Studies. In: Cagnin, C., Keenan, M., Johnston, R., Scapolo, F. and Barre, R. (Eds.): Future-Oriented Technology Analysis. Strategic Intelligence for an Innovative Economy. London: Springer, pp. 71−87

EFP Brief No. 261: Personalised Health Systems Foresight – the Success Scenario Method

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

“Personal Health Systems Foresight” was launched as part of the 7th EU Framework Programme to explore options for integrating Personal Health Systems (PHS) into the health care system and to investigate framework conditions required for the Europe-wide introduction of PHS. Furthermore, the project wanted to initiate a mobilisation of the innovation landscape, increase networking, and develop strategies to promote PHS across Europe.

Personalised Health Systems:  Chances of a Holistic Approach

Rising costs, an ageing population and a shortage of health care professionals are only three of the numerous challenges Europe’s health system has to face. Personal Health Systems (PHS) promise more individual, effective and efficient health care as they assist in the provision of continuous, quality controlled and personalised health services. PHS are technical aids which gather, monitor and communicate physiological and other health-related data via stationary, portable, wearable or implantable sensor devices. Individual treatments or nutritional advice can then be provided virtually anywhere. Furthermore, PHS technologies can provide new business opportunities and can mobilize novel cross-disciplinary and -sectoral innovation partnerships.

There are already various technically advanced solutions available in the fields of e-health, mobile health and ambient assisted living. Several initiatives have been launched across Europe to increase the integration

of new technologies into the health care system. However, most of these projects are limited to small-scale applications and do not situate PHS within the wider health and social care service systems as they were mostly driven by a technology push. The EU project “Personal Health Systems Foresight” wants to fill this gap by looking at the integration of PHS into the health care system from a more holistic view.

 

Structure of the PHS Foresight

As a first step of the project the team conducted a set of analyses in order to get an overview of the PHS area. These include a bibliometric and a case study analysis to gain information about the present state of the topic, a patent analysis in the field of PHS, and a social network analysis to visualize R&D collaboration networks and central actors in the area of PHS on the European level. Additionally, the project partner developed an online platform in order to generate and cluster visions on related innovations and societal challenges.

On the basis of the results from the analyses and the online consultation process, two stakeholder workshops were organized in order to explore the pathways for desirable future developments. The applied method was the “success scenario” technique, which is described in the following by the example of the second scenario workshop for the PHS foresight, held in Manchester in February 2014.

The Success Scenario Method as Core Element of the Foresight Process

The “success scenario” method can be regarded as a mixed form of conventional scenarios and roadmapping. The latter is often a process that extends upon several workshops and produces highly detailed information relevant to one specific goal. In comparison the success scenario approach usually speeds things up by creating a less structured pathway. It identifies a plausible and desirable course of development, the steps required to receive it and the indicators of progress in the right direction.

A product of the process is the scenario text, which can be used to share the vision and mobilise other actors, but the scenario process itself also has a number of functions including:

  • Providing a platform to create mutual understanding and sharing of knowledge,
  • forming a stretch target to think beyond the boundaries of “business as usual”,
  • developing indicators to move the scenario beyond vague aspirations and produce clarity as to what precisely should be discussed and how goals can be achieved, and
  • developing action points and setting priorities.

In this sense the second stakeholder workshop as a core element within the PHS foresight (figure 1) developed elements of a vision for PHS in the year 2030 through a series of steps, in which major dimensions of change, indicators that might be used to assess progress towards desirable outcomes, and actions and strategies to facilitate PHS development in desirable directions were considered. The attainable future could thereby vary across different European countries.

Figure 1: Methodologies applied in the PHS Foresight

261_bild1

The workshop was structured as follows:

  • Introduction of participants, overview of project and the PHS area, explanation of the workshop
  • Presentation of PHS scenarios (from previous workshop)
  • Discussion of success scenario method
  • Specification of indicators of success
  • Discussion of how far success might be realised in terms of these indicators
  • Identification of challenges to be overcome to achieve progress along these lines
  • Possible issues affected by these developments
  • Key actions required to achieve progress
Indicators, Issues and Strategic Actions for the Implementation of PHS

After an introduction of the participants and a first overview of the project and the PHS area, the PHS scenarios from previous workshop were presented. The participants built 4 break-out groups (BOGs):
a) chronic conditions, b) active independent living, c) acute conditions, and d) healthy lifestyles. These groups discussed what might constitute the success scenario and what specific outcome indicators could be appropriate to illustrate it. The indications from the BOG discussions were further analyzed and refined by the participants, this time in plenary. The resulting list of indicators is presented in table 1.

Table 1: Final set of outcome indicators for the PHS success scenario

  1. Reduction in the number of visits to health centres/hospitals required by people suffering early stage chronic diseases through use of PHS
  2. Share of health and social care professionals educated into competence concerning applications of PHS in practice
  3. Percentage of budget spent on chronic diseases saved by PHS use
  4. Reduction in hospital mortalities of frail/elderly admitted for emergency care (75%)
  5. Share of patients with long term conditions monitored by physical and ambient sensors (100%)
  6. Share of citizens with detailed electronic health records that can be accessed by health care professions in a common format across the EU (100%)
  7. Share of people suffering acute episodes whose EHRs can be accessed by emergency care providers without new explicit consent required (100%)
  8. Share of adults active in a patients’ group supporting active independent living and ways of reducing problems associated with conditions
  9. Share of people with PHS that interact with surroundings and personal information to provide advice in everyday situations on food and other choices
  10. Share of people with control over own health data, determining who uses and how
  11. Share of people using tools for individualised, personalised health advice where the advice is evidence-based
  12. Number of such tools that are scientifically proven as reliably advantageous
  13. Importance of new evidence and modelling for testing and validating such PHS tools for the uptake of these tools
  14. Share of spending in PHS funded by private consumption/enterprises in complementary fashion
  15. Share of population with PHR systems that are integrated with EHR systems

Note: The percentages in parentheses after several items are the views of that group as to the extent to which this indicator is liable to have developed by 2030.

For the next step in the workshop, the participants worked in five BOGs, each focusing on particular areas where transformations may be required for the realisation of the success scenario for PHS. These areas of transformation were defined as:

  1. Technologies, platforms, infrastructures, technical standards, and research and development
  2. Data, privacy and public awareness, attitudes and behaviour
  3. Skills, new occupations, changing new occupational roles and specialisms, training
  4. Health and social policy, goals and philosophy, funding and financing
  5. Public-private roles & relationships, changing organisational forms, new business models

The five BOGs then identified issues related to the implementation of PHS in the health care system and finally considered strategic actions relevant to different stakeholders, in the light of these issues.

Strategic actions in relation to interoperability, standardisation and regulation include for instance harmonisation of healthcare systems regulations, interoperability of IT systems, development of common dictionaries and use cases, standards development, legislation for data security and data access.

Actions in relation to developing a PHS innovation eco-system include the coordination and collaboration among a variety of actors in the research, and business communities engaging also societal actors by applying user-centred innovation approaches.

Creating a PHS market with wide accessibility and affordability requires the establishment of market and competition mechanisms and regulations, procurement, development of plans for stage-gated deployment of reimbursement models. Establishment of value chains from priority setting, selection of technologies, to manufacturing and implementation is important and the production of user-friendly and cheap products and services is relevant.

Strategies towards raising social awareness and increasing PHS skills involve actions like educational programmes to introduce PHS systems to professionals and informal carers but also schools, setting up PHS help and advice lines, or incentives to educational institutions to develop PHS strategies and programmes.

PHS research should target to demonstrate PHS benefits and certify PHS products and services. Demonstration of benefits could be done through creation of modelling labs for PHS applications, or building a catalogue of what is available, what is being developed and what needs to be developed through a gap analysis and towards the jointly defined PHS vision. Longitudinal health studies, health economics and cost-effectiveness studies could be deployed along with health technology assessment.

Finally, PHS research should also deal with big data analysis issues while being oriented towards developing customised, user friendly and certified applications easily accessible online and offline. The target groups should be patients, as well as informal carers in the first instance; at later stages the whole of society should be addressed, as there is a need to shift from a reactive to proactive healthcare approach promoting healthy living. The role of EU institutions could be important in supporting PHS research, as well as in providing platforms for disseminating results helping to draw the lessons from both success stories and failures.

Towards a More Individual and  Efficient European Health Care System

In summary there was a general consensus among workshop participants that PHS can contribute to improved health outcomes as well as increasing the efficiency of health services. The process of implementing PHS will involve numerous stakeholders in order to build what participants described as a PHS „innovation eco-system”. It will be important to recognise the interests of different stakeholders in order to avoid a decline in health outcomes, to maintain and extend the equity and social inclusion elements of health systems, to stimulate the development of innovative and effective health interventions and medical technologies, to maintain professional competences and social status, to reward entrepreneurial behaviour, and to use and protect personal data.

Meeting these challenges will require experimentation, dialogue, and monitoring of change. Major aspects of change range from the creation of new business models and partnerships between different kinds of organisations, through stimulating the acquisition of new skills and the emergence of new professions in health and health-related workforces. It will also be important to put regulatory frameworks into place that can allow for informed acceptance of evidence-based solutions.

In all of these aspects of change, public attitudes will need to be taken into account, since citizens are crucial stakeholders in these processes. Further development of visions of the desirable futures that can be achieved, and awareness of the problems that may be encountered and the ways in which these may be addressed, will be necessary in the future. The PHS foresight and the results from the success scenario workshop can be regarded as one step in the direction of adopting a holistic and combined approach in understanding PHS and establishing and sharing visions of the desirable futures that can be achieved through the implementation of PHS into the European health care system.

Authors: Susanne Giesecke (susanne.giesecke@ait.ac.at), Doris Schartinger (doris.schartinger@ait.ac.at), André Uhl (andre.uhl@ait.ac.at), Totti Konnola (totti.konnola@if-institute.org), Laura Pombo Juárez (laura.pombo@impetusolutions.com), Ian Miles (ian.miles@mbs.ac.uk), Ozcan Saritas (ozcan.saritas@mbs.ac.uk), Effie Amanatidou (effie.amanatidou@mbs.ac.uk), Günter Schreier (guenter.schreier@ait.ac.at)
Sponsors: European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 2007-2013)
Type: European Foresight Project
Organizer: Austrian Institute of Technology AIT, Susanne Giesecke, susanne.giesecke@ait.ac.at
Duration: 2012 – 2014
Budget: 450,000 €
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: March 2016

Download EFP Brief No. 261: Personalised Health Systems Foresight – the Success Scenario Method

Sources and References

This brief is based on the following report, in which the findings are discussed in more detail:

Amanatidou, E., Miles, I., Saritas, O., Schartinger, D., Giesecke, S., & Pombo-Juarez, L. 2014. Personal Health Systems: A Success Scenario. Personal Health Systems Foresight.

References

Schartinger, D., Miles, I., Saritas, O., Amanatidou, E., Giesecke, S., Heller-Schuh, B. Pompo-Juarez, L., & Schreier, G. 2015. Personal Health Systems Technologies: Critical Issues in Service Innovation and Diffusion. Technology Innovation Management Review, 5(2): 46–57. http://timreview.ca/article/873

Schartinger, D., Miles, I., Saritas, O., Amanatidou, E., Giesecke, S., Heller-Schuh, B. Pompo-Juarez, L., & Schreier, G. 2015. Personal Health Systems Technologies and Service Systems 2014. Presented at the 24th Annual RESER Conference, September 11–13, 2014, Helsinki, Finland

EFP Brief No. 258: Perspectives on Use of Expertise in Futures Studies

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Numerous foresight activities rely on gathering expert knowledge, using e.g., the Delphi method. A crucial question for the quality of the exercise is who the relevant experts are. The question is particularly difficult when studying so-called wicked problems, which elude exact definition. Inclusive definition of expertise is called for in this brief, particularly because of the social power experts have. This brief tackles the complex issues of characterising expertise and taking full use of it in expert-based futures projects. Transparency of the chosen expertise must often be combined with upholding anonymity.

Facing Complex “Wicked” Problems with Methods Using Expert Knowledge

Numerous foresight methods are based on expert information, such as Delphi studies. In practical applications of these methods, the researchers have to make judgements on who is an appropriate expert.

This is particularly difficult in the case of the so-called wicked problems (Rittel and Webber 1973). Such problems are very complex with many definitions, and each definition seems to carry a presupposition of a solution. The solutions are based on a variety of theories, assumptions and values. Therefore, in many foresight applications an interdisciplinary approach is chosen, and experts are invited from different domains. In this way, both knowledge about different facets of a problem (such as technological, economic, and societal) is represented, and the different theories and concepts behind them are included.

For example, if climate change is seen primarily as a technological problem resulting from fossil energy use, the responses are likely to be expressed in technological or economic terms. If the problem is seen to result fundamentally from global inequalities, the results focus on international agreements and funding mechanisms. If the problem is seen to result from population growth and modern lifestyles, the answers are to be found in the cultural and social spheres. No single framework could encompass the ecological, economic, social, cultural and technological dimensions of climate change.

Obviously in futures research, a temporal aspect further complicates the issue. It is not enough to know what the state of the problem is; we would also need to know how the situation may change.

If we want to know how things are right now, or how they will be in the near future, often it makes sense to ask those who can be defined to be on the top of their field. This approach often means asking middle-aged or older people with long work histories. However, the aims of foresight processes are often about opening new visions, finding new trends or unexpected turn points, considering trends and changes on long time scales, and finding ways to reach futures we define as desirable. Then, narrowly defined expertise may not be an optimal solution.

 

Objective

In this brief I will outline certain definitions for expertise, and discuss their implications for the use of experts in futures studies. The aim is not to provide definite answers, but rather to inspire discussion and make foresight processes more sensitive to alternative forms of expertise.

Defining Expertise

  1. Expertise as cognitive property and a social construction

Expertise can be seen as both cognitive property and a social construction. From a cognitive perspective, expertise refers to knowledge and skills of a domain of activity. It can be acquired through education, experience or any other form of cognitive refinement. However, it is not necessarily linked to the social status of an expert. The social status often follows from formal degrees, higher professions and leading organisational positions. These properties are considered to indicate expertise, but they do not guarantee it, and similarly, a person without a socially acknowledged expert status may possess similar skills to an authorised expert.

Defining the content of expertise, i.e. the appropriate cognitive resources, or skills that matter in a domain of practice, is a social process (Turner 2001). The content of valid expertise changes over time and cultures. For example, medicinal practices that were considered valid in the 16th century Europe are very far removed from those practiced today in the western world, and different from traditional Chinese medicine. The content also depends on the definition of the problem at hand. With wicked problems that elude definition, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what kinds of expertise should be included in a futures project.

 

  1. Different types of knowledge

Bogner and Menz (2009) distinguish between three different types of knowledge. First, there is technical knowledge, which we typically gain through education. Then, there is process knowledge, which is close to tacit knowledge. It is knowledge that is gained through working in a field, and consists of knowledge regarding the practices and modes of operation within a field, such as patterns of interaction and organisations.

The third type of knowledge Bogner and Menz (2009) call interpretative knowledge and it means a person’s subjective assumptions, views, interpretations, rules, etc. The key idea here is that all we learn through education or practice is interpreted and assimilated through our previous knowledge, values, and experiences. Therefore even identical education and work history could not produce two identical experts.

Such subjectivity has often been considered a problem that detracts from expertise, which is commonly thought to be objective. It is, however, quite impossible to avoid. Selinger and Crease (2002: 245) note that expertise is built upon the person, and the “prejudices, ideologies, hidden agendas, or other forms of cultural embeddedness that person might have” do not disappear during the process of becoming an expert.

More importantly, subjectivity may not even be a problem. It is through subjectivity that many important aspects of expertise emerge into foresight processes, such as ethical consideration, empathy, and sense of responsibility. They all derive from experts’ ability to personally engage with problems and their solutions.

If we accept that expertise itself is affected by the person, and reflects the social environment in which it has been accumulated, it becomes important to search for variety not only in terms of multidisciplinarity but also, for example, in terms of gender, age, and ethnicity.

 

  1. Why does the definition of expertise matter?

Defining someone as an expert gives him/her social power to define problems and suggest their solutions. Experts are therefore important actors in society. Expert knowledge is a vehicle for maintaining or changing the existing patterns of thought and action. While experts do not alone determine the future, they are powerful in defining what is real and possible in a society. In addition, expert knowledge is not entirely transparent, and there is limited possibility to hold experts accountable for their power.

In sustainability discourse, in particular, the widening of the definition of expertise has been called for. There may be a need to look at “counter-expertise” i.e. expertise beyond the establishment (e.g. non-governmental organisations). It is not only a matter of democracy; different backgrounds also produce different expertise.

Because expertise is not dependent in a straightforward way on formal degrees or titles, it can be argued that there is no such thing as a “lay expert”. A person may either have relevant expertise or not, regardless of the status as a layperson. However, it may make sense to describe where the expertise springs from.

Using Exertise in Futures Studies

Why is expertise useful in futures studies? It is not just that experts know a lot. Information might be found through other means. Instead, in futures projects, such as Delphi studies, it is often important to make intuitive and quick estimates about future possibilities, and about the impact of changing drivers on the topic in question. Intuitive judgement has even been considered a central ability of an expert (Dreyfus and Dreyfus 2005). Careful consideration does not replace but improves the expert’s intuition.

  1. The expertise matrix

The wide definition of expertise that was discussed above poses a new challenge to the expert selection. If we assume that various types of expertise need to be included in the panel, there need to be tools for keeping track of the variety. Expert matrix (introduced by Kuusi et al. 2006) is a simple tool for both ensuring the variety and for making it more transparent for the audience of a foresight exercise.

In the matrix, the desired variety is detailed, and during the assembly of the panel, the expertise of the panellists is marked in it. For example, in a research project regarding renewable energy growth, we listed various energy sources and forms on one hand, and various roles within a value chain on the other hand. Then we searched for e.g., an expert being familiar with biogas and energy transfer (Varho et al. forthcoming).

It is also possible to make a longer list of expertise characteristics. In another project, we wanted to have variation in terms of topics affecting the future of transport (such as fuels, engine technology, land use, and behaviour), transport modes, field of education, level of education, background organisation, age, and gender. These were listed in a table, in which each expert was characterised (Varho and Tapio 2013).

It is not necessary to have perfect cover in a matrix. Finding different people for all combinations of our transport project expert table, for example, would have meant thousands of experts. However, we were able to get significant variation, and the table also increased the transparency of the process considerably.

 

  1. Facilitating expert deliberation

As we all, also experts may get too focused on conventional wisdom and current or past situation. As we discuss the future possibilities, there is often a need for people who think “out of the box”. Some people are more able to do this, but it is possible to encourage this type of thinking in the whole panel.

One way to do so is to ask experts to describe both a probable and a preferable future (Amara 1981). This approach does not only accept but embraces the subjectivity of experts. It helps the experts to recognise their preferences (in preferred future) and also to aim for objectivity (in probable future). Even if total objectivity is impossible, it is an ideal that many experts strive for, and they may feel more comfortable when they have these two views to distinguish between.

Different methods for gathering data from experts may encourage the expression of new views. For example, the use of expert interviews allows new ideas and interpretations to be incorporated into the futures project. Usually in e.g. Delphi studies it is the research team that formulates the questions. New or alternative interpretations of the problem at hand may not emerge during questionnaire rounds. In addition, some experts may not feel comfortable giving numerical estimates of the future development. The combined use of numerical, visual, and verbal answers can encourage different types of experts to express their views (Varho and Tapio 2013).

Anonymity of expert panels is usually sought for. It is useful, among other things, for encouraging also those with less obvious (social) expert status to express their views. However, face-to-face meetings such as workshops can be introduced at some point of a project, for more thorough communication and co-learning.

Discussing the Use of Expertise

In this brief I have outlined some perspectives on experts and the use of expertise in futures projects. Some questions arise from these, although definitive conclusions cannot perhaps be drawn.

 

  1. What are experts good for?

Using expert views is often valuable in futures projects. It can be an “economical” approach, as experts are able to give estimates regarding complex systems. When the futures project aims more at estimating how the future unfolds than at creating new visions, conventional expertise is naturally important. But the further we look into the future, the less the existing knowledge may be relevant. Do we really need experts, or more specifically, those we define as experts?

In a recent project (see Tuominen et al. 2014) we asked both transport experts and high-school students to describe the future of Finnish transport. It was interesting to see that the students were able to describe in their essays very diverse futures that, in most part, reflected the alternative future visions of the experts. However, they were not able to give plausible numerical estimates that would have reflected the qualitative visions. It seems that expertise on a subject is valuable – at the very least – because experts are more able to give numerical estimates. Numbers, in turn, are often very useful for distinguishing the future views apart and for comparing them with existing or targeted levels. In addition, transport was a subject that all students have some experience on. A more esoteric subject might not have gained equally valuable answers from them.

 

  1. Are experts “experts” at all?

Given the subjectivity of experts that was discussed in this paper we need to ask if they should be defined as experts, or are they e.g., stakeholders. There may not be a conclusive answer to this question. It is likely, however, that when people are invited into the futures project as experts they aim more at objectivity than when they are defined as stakeholders. In the stakeholder position, they may even feel obligated to defend the interest of those they are invited to represent.

It is possible to include in an expert panel people who would not define themselves as experts. For example, we have included a high-school student in a project that otherwise addressed experienced professionals (Varho and Tapio 2013), because we believed that she would have valuable experiences and viewpoints to share from the perspective of today’s youth. This was considered valid, in particular, because the timeline of the futures project extended several decades into the future.

Collins (2013) has discussed three dimensions of expertise, namely “esotericity”, “accomplishment”, and “exposure to tacit knowledge of a domain”. Being a teenager is hardly expertise according to the first two dimensions, but to some extent it does fulfil the third dimension. Being immersed in a subculture gives a person the ability to see and interpret the world in ways that are not obvious to others.

  1. Is an expertise matrix useful?

An expertise matrix or another equivalent tool is important for finding appropriate experts for a futures project. In addition, participating experts should be described to increase the transparency and internal validity of the project (Kuusi et al. 2015), even when anonymity is maintained.

 

Authors: Vilja Varho        vilja.varho@luke.fi; vilja.varho@fidea.fi
Sponsors: n.a.
Type: Methodological discussion
Organizer: Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) www.luke.fi
Duration: n.a.
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: n.a.
Date of Brief: October 2015

Download EFP Brief No. 258: Perspectives on Use of Expertise

Sources and References

This brief is based on the following article, in which the findings are discussed in more detail:

Varho, V., Huutoniemi, K. 2014. Envisioning solutions – Expert deliberation on environmental futures. In: Huutoniemi, K., Tapio, P. (eds.) Transdisciplinary Sustainability Studies: A Heuristic Approach. Routledge, London & New York. pp. 140-157.

References

 

Amara, R. (1981) ‘The futures field. Searching for definitions and boundaries’, The Futurist, 15(1): 25–29

Bogner, A. and Menz, W. (2009) ‘The theory-generating expert interview: epistemological interest, forms of knowledge, interaction’, in: Bogner, A., Littig, B. and Menz, W. (eds.) Interviewing Experts. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, UK. pp. 43–80.

Dreyfus, H.L. and Dreyfus, S.E. (2005) ‘Expertise in real world contexts’, Organization Studies 26(5): 779–792

Kuusi, O., Kinnunen, J., Ryynänen, O.-P., Myllykangas, M. and Lammintakanen, J. (2006) ‘Suomen Terveydenhuollon tulevaisuudet’, in: Terveydenhuollon tulevaisuus, Eduskunnan kanslian julkaisu 3/2006.

Kuusi, O., Cuhls, K. and Steinmüller, K. (2015) Quality Criteria for Scientific Futures Research. Futura 1/2015: 60-77.

Rittel, H.W.J. and Webber, M.M. (1973) ‘Dilemmas in a general theory of planning’, Policy Sciences, 4(2): 155–69.

Selinger, E.M. and Crease, R.P. (2002) ‘Dreyfus on expertise: The limits of phenomenological analysis’, Continental Philosophy Review 35: 245–279.

Tuominen, A., Tapio, P., Varho, V., Järvi, T. and Banister, D. 2014. Pluralistic backcasting: Integrating multiple visions with policy packages for transport climate policy. Futures, 60: 41-58.

Turner, S. (2001) ‘What is the Problem with Experts?’ Social Studies of Science 31(1): 123–149.

Varho, V. and Tapio, P. (2013) ‘Combining the qualitative and quantitative with the Q2 scenario technique – the case of transport and climate’, Technological Forecasting & Social Change 80(4): 611–630.

Varho, V., Rikkonen, P., Rasi, S. (forthc.) Futures of distributed small-scale renewable energy in Finland – A Delphi study of the opportunities and obstacles up to 2025. Under review in Technological Forecasting & Social Change.

EFP Brief No. 257: Creating Prospective Value Chains for Renewable Road Transport Energy Sources

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

If the Nordic energy and transport sectors are to meet the 2050 energy and climate policy targets, major systemic chang-es are necessary. The transition requires cooperation between public and private actors. The approach outlined in the paper combines elements from the fields of system level changes (transitions), value chain analysis and forward looking policy design. It presents a novel, policy relevant application with a set of practical tools to support development of im-plementation strategies and policy programmes in the fields of energy and transport.

A Major Transition is Necessary

Sustainable energy technologies are driven especially by the climate change challenge, which necessitates paradigm shift also in global energy production and consumption structures. Currently, about 20 % of the Nordic CO2 emissions are due to transport sector. If the Nordic energy and transport systems are to meet the 2050 energy and climate policy goals, a major transition is necessary. Along with new technologies, changes are required also in other societal sectors such as business models and consumer habits. The transition requires cooperation between public and private actors. Political decisions should create potential to enterprises which can provide renewable energy solutions in a way that they attract also consumers and transporters of goods.

In order to be able to make wise political decisions we need foresight actions to get an idea about the future trends and needs, and possible ways of shaping the future. We believe that, for the most part, actors create the future and therefore the state of the transport system is a result of the measures and actions carried out by the producers, operators and users of the system. Therefore we need knowledge and understanding about the actors who are important in the processes. In our understanding actors are outlined in value chains.

A new Approach to Value Chains

The focus in this brief is on developing tools to understand, create and analyse prospective value chains up to the year 2050. With ‘value chain’ we mean a chain of activities needed in order to deliver a specific valuable product and service for the market, incl. activities related to energy sources or feedstock production; energy production; distribution and transportation; retail; consumption; regulation and governance; and research and development. In our case the value chains arise from three alternative, but partly overlapping technology platforms, namely electricity, biofuels and hydrogen.

The motivation for this foresight exercise is to produce knowledge for future decision making and policy support in order to create enabling ground for sustainable energy solutions for the future transport sector. Traditionally value chains are considered in rather short term business opportunity analyses. In our case, we need to outline the value chains in the far future.

The brief is based on the preliminary results of the TOP-NEST project WP4. The task of WP4 is to identify prospective value chains in order to outline roadmap and policy recommendations in the later phases of the project.

Functions of Foresight and Policy-making

The impact of foresight on policy-making has been discussed among foresight experts practitioners (e.g. Georghiou & Keenan 2006, Da Costa et. al. 2008, Weber et.al. 2009, Könnölä e.al. 2009, 2011). One aspect of this discussion is to consider the functions of foresight in policy-making. The functions of foresight can be summarized into three major functions, which are 1) informing, 2) facilitation, and 3) guiding.

The informing function of foresight is generation of insights regarding the dynamics of change, future challenges and policy options, along with new ideas, and transmitting them to policymakers as an input to policy conceptualisation and design.

Facilitation of policy implementation gets it motivation from the changing nature of policy-making. There has been a shift from linear models of policy-making, consisting of successive phases such as formulation, implementation and evaluation phases, into cyclic models, where evaluations are supposed to feed back into the policy formation and implementation phases (Weber et. al 2009; Da Costa et. al 2008). This kind of thinking puts more emphasis on interactions, learning, and decentralised and networked characters of political decision-making and implementation.

The effectiveness of policy depends also on the involvement of a broader range of actors, and therefore also, the role of government shifts from being a central steering entity to that of a moderator of collective decision-making processes. To meet the requirements of the new mode of operation one needs foresight instrument.

Policy guiding refers to the capacities of foresight to support strategy formation or policy definition. In its best foresight exercises may bring to light the inadequacy of the current policy system to address the major challenges that society is facing (Da Costa et al. 2008).

Our approach combines analysis of system level changes (transitions) and value chain analysis with foresight approach. We apply multilevel perspective model (Geels 2005) to define the prerequisites of the transfer of the complex transport system, and value chain analysis in order to concretise the changes needed. With these elements we try to inform, facilitate and guide policy-making.

Multi-level Perspectives of the Energy and Transport Systems

Figure 1 presents the three basic components of the transport system: users, vehicles and transport infrastructure. The use of vehicles involves behavioural and business models, and different types of solutions are available concerning issues such as vehicle ownership (adapted from Auvinen and Tuominen, 2012). The illustration presents also the main elements of the energy system (primary energy sources, production and storage), which are linked to the transport system mainly through energy and transport infrastructures and are crucial for transport operations.

The state of the transport system is a result of the measures and actions carried out by the producers, operators and users of the system. Producers and operators are organisations or companies, which can be categorised according to their main duties, such as: policy formulation, infrastructure construction and maintenance, production and operation of services for the transport system, and production of transport-related services (e.g. vehicle manufacturing and fuels). Individual people, actually the whole population, are the users of the passenger transport system. In freight transport, users are companies and organisations in the fields of industry, transport and commerce (Tuominen et al. 2007). Value chains are composed from these different actors.

257_bild1

Figure 1. Transport and energy systems in multi-level perspective model. The transfer process requires changes in all levels heading to the same direction.

From Future Wheel to Technology Platforms and Prospective Value Chains

The foresight procedure consists of three stages (see Figure 2):

257_bild2

Figure 2. A procedure for prospective value chain analysis.

The starting point of the process (Step 1) is to create an idea of the context were the prospective value chains will operate. For this pourpose, various foresight methods, such as Futures Wheel, and scenario methodology can be used. We formulated four different scenarios for 2050, which are described briefly below (Figure 3).

257_bild3

Figure3. The principle of scenario creation and the four transport scenarios formulated for 2050.

The goal of the second step is to identify the value network actors and analyse their individual interests, and connections between different actors, if possible, in all different scenarios. The analysis covers value chain activities from energy sources and feedstock production to energy production, distribution and transport, retail and consumption. Also regulation, governance and R&D actors are included in the analysis.

All possible actors are listed and their opportunities and advantages, as well as supportive needs are analysed. Opportunities refer to the possibilities to make profit in the value network (How the actor benefits from the value network?), and advantage refers to created value by the actor (What is the added value the actor produces to its customer or in the network?). The analysis of the supportive activities is needed to recognize the connection between different actors. Figure 4 gives an example of the value network illustration.

257_bild4

Figure 4. Value network of a biodiesel example based on tall oil.

The third step includes outlining of the prospective value chains. In this stage, couple of aspects need to be taken into consideration. Different technology platforms will co-exist in the future and different futures create different opportunities and development possibilities for different technology platforms. Therefore, one needs to describe the level of technological development of the given technology platform in the outline of the value chain. In other words, the outline of the value chain works only in selected scenario, and the level of technological development of a single technology platform is different in different scenarios.

Participative Workshops Informing, Facilitating and Guiding Policy-making

Future value chains and future actors within have to be recognised in order to find out prerequisites of the future actions. The proposed approach may act as a checklist for the key issues to be covered in outlining prospective value chains in the road transport context.

The process integrates methods from different theoretical starting points: foresight, multi-level perspective and value chain theories. It also integrates energy and transport systems, and expands the context far to the future. The process is not yet complete but the work will continue in the TOP-NEST project up to the 2014.

To outline future actors is a challenging task. At this stage of the process development we have noticed that the most challenging part is to be able to imagine potential new actors and to create potential new relationships between the actors in a strongly path dependent situation, as is a biodiesel case. We assume that for instance in testing this procedure in hydrogen technology system the challenge may be slightly easier, because path-dependency is not strong.

Another challenge is to get relevant stakeholders to either participate the workshops or give interviews. The workshops or interviews shall include stakeholders at least from the industry, ministries, NGO’s e.g. nature protection organisations, vehicle industry and associations as well as researchers. The issue to be discussed is so large including energy, transport and transition policies, that the discussion would take time. There may also be confidentiality problems concerning new emerging technologies.

We believe that the prospective value chain analysis helps us to figure out landscape level constraints, like values and global trends, niche level options, as well as the needs which guide us to change or maintain the existing regime. Value chain analysis gives us views about the future and about the potential paths and constraints to help making wise political decisions.

 

Authors: Nina Wessberg, nina.wessberg@vtt.fi, Anna Leinonen, anna.leinonen@vtt.fi, Anu Tuominen, anu.tuominen@vtt.fi, Annele Eerola, annele.eerola@vtt.fi ,Simon Bolwig, sibo@dtu.dk
Sponsors: NER (TOP-NEST project http://www.topnest.no/ )
Type: Nordic foresight exercise
Organizer: VTT, nina.wessberg@vtt.fi
Duration: 2011-2015
Budget: € 402,000
Time Horizon: 2050
Date of Brief: July 2014

Download EFP Brief No. 257_Prospective Value Chains

Sources and References

Auvinen, H. & Tuominen, A. 2012, Safe and secure transport system 2100. Vision. VTT Technology 5 (2012).

Da Costa, O., Warnke, P., Cagnin, C., Scapolo, F. (2008) The impact of foresight on policy-making: insights from the FORLEARN mutual learning process. Technology analysis & Strategic Management, vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 369-387.

Geels, F.W. 2005, “Processes and patterns in transitions and system innovations: Refining the co

evolutionary multi-level perspective”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 72, no. 6, pp. 681-696.

Georghiou, L., Keenan, M. (2006) Evaluation of national foresight activities: Assessing rationale, process and impact. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, vol. 73, pp. 761-777.

Könnölä, T., Scapolo, F., Desruelle, P., Mu, R. (2011) Foresight tackling societal challenges: Impacts and implications on policy-making. Futures vol. 43. pp. 252-264.

Tuominen, A., Järvi, T., Räsänen, J., Sirkiä, A. and Himanen, V. (2007) Common preferences of different

user segments as basis for intelligent transport system: case study – Finland. IET Intell. Transp. Syst.,

2007, 1, (2), pp. 59–68.

Tuominen, A., Wessberg, N., Leinonen, A., Eerola, A. and Bolwig, S. (2014). Creating prospective value chains for renewable road transport energy sources up to 2050 in Nordic Countries. Transport Research Arena 2014, Paris.

Weber, M., Kubeczko, K., Kaufmann, A., Grunewald, B. (2009) Trade-offs between policy impacts of future-oriented analysis: experiences from the innovation policy foresight and strategy process of the city of Vienna. Technology analysis & Strategic Management, vol. 21, No. 8. pp. 953-969.

Wessberg, N., Leinonen, A., Tuominen, A., Eerola, A. and Bolwig, S. (2013) Creating prospective value chains for renewable road trasport energy sources up to 2050 in Nordic Countries. International Foresight Academic Seminar in Switzerland, Sept 16-18, 2013.

EFP Brief No. 255: RIF Research & Innovation Futures

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

RIF explores possible future ways of doing and organising research in order to inspire fresh thinking among research stakeholders about underlying potentials and looming risks in the present.

Drivers for New Ways of Doing Research

RIF was setting out from the observation that current ways of doing and organising research are experiencing a number of new phenomena, challenges and tensions such as:

  • Increasing demand for public participation in defining research priorities
  • Demand for early economic exploitation of research findings and subsequent protection of intellectual property right
  • Increasing call for creation of socially robust knowledge
  • Emergence of diversity of knowledge claims challenging the monopoly of “science” such as the Rise of citizens scientists
  • New technologies changing science practises such as big data, computer simulation, researcher social networks and e-publishing
  • Call for open access to research findings
  • Established publishing modes challenged by new players
  • Institutional diversification and change of established division of roles
  • Increasing engagement of industry in research activities
  • Turn in Research and Innovation Policy towards mission oriented strategies
  • Established notions of science excellence being contested
  • Increasing relevance of large technical infrastructures
  • Change in the global landscape of research, emergence of new countries leading publications

Tackling Tensions of Future Research Governance

In view of this background the RIF Foresight exercise defined the following objectives:

  • Systematize knowledge of the emerging patterns, trends and drivers of change of ways of doing and organising research.
  • Develop medium-term explorative scenarios of possible future models of doing and organising research in our knowledge societies at a time horizon 2020
  • Anticipate and assess possible challenges and tensions resulting from these scenarios
  • Develop long-term transformative scenarios of alternative development paths of the way we will do and organize research and innovation in our societies at a time horizon of about 2030
  • Identify policy issues and strategic options for the actors and stakeholders affected, as resulting from the two types of scenarios
  • Create an open debate between different communities contributing to knowledge dynamics from their respective perspectives and explore room for joint action.

Explorative and Transformative Scenarios

The core element of the RIF methodology is a two stage scenario process as shown in figure 1.

bild1

In a first stage the RIF team identified current trends and drivers of research practices and organisation through an in-depth stocktaking of literature, forward looking studies and strategy documents (Schaper-Rinkel et al. 2012). In a next step RIF set up a scenario process involving around 70 stakeholders with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives within three interactive scenario workshops:

In the first workshop participants developed “explorative scenarios” with a mid-term time horizon by extrapolating today’s trends and drivers (c.f. RIF 2012). Out of these explorative scenarios they identified a set of tensions, junctures and dilemmas that could be emerging in the mid-term if current dynamics continue (c.f. figure 2).

The explorative scenario workshop comprised the following interactive methods:

 

  • plenary discussion and multi-criteria assessment for the selection of core trends
  • facilitated group brainstorming for projection of the selected factors into the mid-term future
  • open-space session for the final identification of tensions (c.f. figure 2)
  • self-organised group work for elaboration of the tensions

bild2

In the second transformative scenario workshop the RIF team and a few selected external participants with a background in the most relevant issues brought forward by the preceding workshop developed the “nuclei of change” from the previous workshop into draft transformative scenarios within plenary and group brainstorming sessions.

The third scenario workshop was dedicated to validation and enrichment of the transformative scenario drafts. A world café format enabled a constructive and structured futures’ dialogue:

On each world café table the team had placed a characteristic image and short descriptive paragraph for one transformative scenario draft. In group sessions of ca. half an hour participants commented on the drafts and enriched the scenarios. Several rounds were carried out so each participant was able to comment on at least two scenarios. One table had been reserved in case participants proposed additional scenarios, which was indeed the case when an entirely new wild card scenario was proposed by one of the participants.

In the second session participants relating to the four stakeholder groups science, policy, civil society and industry worked in separate groups. In a first step they defined their core strategic objectives with respect to research. Secondly, they assessed opportunities and threats for these targets for all six scenarios.

The RIF project has now arrived at the midterm of its duration. The next two workpackages will be dedicated to stakeholder debate on policy implications and strategic options emerging from the scenarios. For this purpose several participatory foresight workshops will be held. Some of these strategic conversations will be crosscutting while others will address specific stakeholder groups that are facing particularly relevant strategic issues according to the scenario analysis.

Broad Stakeholder Participation

The RIF team selected the participants of the Foresight exercise on the basis of a stakeholder analysis using (among others) the stakeholder classification scheme developed by Mitchell et al (1997). Representatives from the following institutional backgrounds participated in the workshops:

 

  • University based researchers (Professors, PhDs, students)
  • University administration
  • Research funding agencies
  • Foundations active in research funding
  • Regional policy agencies
  • Public research organisations
  • Research Ministries (national and EU level)
  • Large companies
  • SMEs
  • Science shops
  • Citzens’ science activists
  • Scientific journal editors
  • Science quality control agencies
  • Industrial associations
  • Trade unions
  • Health organisations
  • International researcher networks
  • Large research infrastructures

 

The majority of the participants came from different European countries representing some organisations from regional, national and European level but also from other continents and international organisations. RIF achieved a good balance between female and male participants.

From Slow Science to Competition 2.0

The RIF project is still on-going. Currently, the scenario report containing the explorative and transformative scenarios emerging from the stakeholder process is being finalised. The insights generated by the stocktaking and draft scenario building are available and summarised below.

The stocktaking (Schaper-Rinkel et al. 2012) pointed out six core dimensions of change in ways of doing and organising research:

  • Digitalization and virtualisation
  • Cooperation & Participation
  • Access
  • Impact
  • Globalisation & Internationalisation

Within these dimensions the analysis revealed the following tensions:

  • open science versus commodification of research
  • short-term project-orientation versus long-term development of new forms of research
  • abundance of scientific information versus shortage of individually manageable and reliable information
  • research collaboration versus competition for research funding
  • collaborative research versus individual incentives
  • diversity in research versus quality standards
  • scientific excellence that is associated with value-free, curiosity-driven research versus research that is relevant to contributing to societal needs
  • diversity versus uniformity
  • research efficiency versus foundational breakthroughs
  • diverse epistemic cultures in providing knowledge for decision-making

The foresight process outlined above generated seven transformative scenario drafts within the first two workshops:

Scenario I: Open Research Landscape

European research is coordinated by “Open Research Platforms (ORP)” where different types of globally connected actors align their funding activities. Each ORP runs an open knowledge sharing WIKI platform where researchers integrate their findings. The new gate-keepers of scientific quality are science & society social networks. University performance is judged by their contribution to the ORPs success.

Scenario II Divided Science Kingdom

The research landscape is divided between two extremes: strictly governed publicly-funded research applying traditional quality criteria versus an open “knowledge parliament” where knowledge claims and funding opportunities are continuously negotiated. Universities are highly diversified according to the two realms

Scenario III: Grand Challenges for real

European research and innovation is strictly organized around Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) that develop solutions for key societal challenges through large scale socio-technical research and experimentation aligning diverse actors and knowledge types. Large shares of public budgets are used to finance the KICs in a coordinated manner. This happens in a period of reduced economic growth in Europe, where higher priority is given to other dimensions of quality of life.

Scenario IV: Tailored Research

The research landscape is coordinated through a fully tailored system of functions fulfilled by highly specialised actors that share revenues according to market rules. At the top of the pyramid, Research Assembling Organisations (RAOs) integrate the contributions of second and third tier research service providers into systemic solutions. A few actors define the rules of interaction and control access to research results and resources. Science is viewed as one of the key enablers for winning the global competition race.

Scenario V: Slow Science

A dedicated group of scientists, also known as “slow science community”, is orienting re-search towards societal and policy needs and placing high emphasis on work-life balance and on making the results of their research work effective in practice. The community is locally rooted, globally connected and funded by bottom-up crowd-funding from diverse sources.

Scenario VI: Competition 2.0 – European public research divided

Driven by business pressure, the Europe’s emphasis is on innovation-oriented research with a focus on improving mid-term global competitiveness. Independent basic research has almost vanished and struggles for funding from public sources.

Scenario X Happiness 2030

To reach the ambitious requirements of wellbeing and happiness until 2030, by 2020 a fully distributed research system based on virtual open science communities, micro-funding and real science markets emerges. Virtual communities grow stronger due to shared methods and processes, affordable tools and applications, as well as to ambitious young talents working and striving for societal reputation. Social science entrepreneurs are climbing up the ladder of success and foster bottom‑up innovation.

These scenario drafts are now being consolidated on the basis of the input from the third workshop which is documented in RIF 2012. The full scenario report will be available soon after.

Changing Value System in Research & Innovation

It is too early yet to draw definite conclusions and policy implications from the RIF foresight exercise. Already now it becomes clear however that longstanding certainties are becoming volatile and the future of research will pose major challenges to decision makers on all levels and institutional backgrounds. The lively debates around the “policy table” in the Vienna world cafe on pros and cons of the various scenarios revealed several valuable strategic questions for policy making today. Accordingly we expect the emergence of a number of relevant policy implications from the strategic debate within the two next work packages:

  • Scenario implication assessment (WP3)
  • Strategic options for society and policy (WP4).

The scenario report will present a consolidated version of the scenarios based on the inputs from the third workshop.

Authors: Philine Warnke                         philine.warnke@ait.ac.at
Sponsors: European Commission DG RTD Science in Society
Type: European level  thematic exercise
Organizer: Matthias Weber, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, and matthias.weber@ait.ac.at
Duration: 2011-2013
Budget: € 860 ,000
Time Horizon: 2020/2030
Date of Brief: January 2013

Download EFP Brief 255_RIF Research and Innovation Futures

Sources and References

More information on the RIF project including all reports for download can be found at: http://www.rif2030.eu/

Amanatidou, E., Cox, D., Saritas, O. (2012): RIF Deliverable 4.1: Stakeholders in the STI System.

Mitchell, R. K., Agle, B. R. and Wood, D. J. (1997), ‘Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts’, The Academy of Management Review, 22 (4), 853–886.

Schaper-Rinkel, P., Weber, M., Wasserbacher, D., van Oost, E., Ordonez-Matamores, G., Krooi, M., Hölsgens, R. Nieminen, M., Peltonen, A. 2012: RIF Deliverable 1.1 Stocktaking Report.

RIF 2012: Research in Europe 2030: Documentation of the RIF Vienna World Café. http://www.rif2030.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/RIF-Docu-World-cafe-Vienna_final.pdf

(Links for further information, references used, etc.)

EFP Brief No. 251: VERA – Forward Visions on the European Research Area

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

The VERA project provides relevant strategic intelligence for the future governance and priority-setting of the research, technology, development and innovation (RTDI) system in the EU and for better adapting science, technology and inno-vation policy to the shifting global environment and upcoming socio-economic challenges. For this purpose VERA carries out an in-depth stocktaking of RTDI related forward looking activities in Europe and internationally and a thorough review of trends and drivers of long-term change of European RTDI governance. On the base of these insights VERA develops scenarios on the evolution of the European Research Area, assesses the critical issues for the ERA’s future capabilities emerging from these scenarios, explores subsequent strategic options and ultimately generates a set of policy recommendations for responsive and future oriented multi-level, multi-domain RTDI policy strategies. As VERA will run until 2014 we will present some intermediary results of the first two work packages in this Brief.

Changes and Tensions within ERA

Recently, ERA has undergone many relevant changes from inside. First of all, research and development became a domain of shared competence between the member states and the EU as a result of the new Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The subsequent strategic processes, such as the Lund Declaration, the Ljubljana Process, the Europe2020 Strategy and the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union, have provided a solid mandate for a strong and open European Research Area that is highly responsive to societal challenges and provides excellent research and innovation activities in open exchange with the international RTI landscape.

However, in order to realise this ambitious agenda, the share of integrated research expenditure needs to be significantly increased. Furthermore, new coordination mechanisms are required to allow for flexible identification of ERA priorities, mobilisation of the critical mass of funding, and governance of its implementation.

In the last few years, a number of integrative instruments have been developed and implemented, such as:

  • Knowledge and innovation communities (KICs) selected within the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
  • ERA Net and ERA-Net Plus allowing for joint funding of EU and member states
  • Joint technology initiatives (JTIs article 187) developed through the European technology platforms (ETPs)
  • Joint programming in research (JPIs)
  • Public private partnerships (PPP)
  • Joint research programmes (article 185)
  • European research alliances
  • European innovation partnerships

Thus a number of opportunities and experiences for more integration and pre-allocating significant chunks of EU funding to joint priorities do exist. At the same time, there are many tensions associated with the implementation of these strategies.

A key challenge and opportunity for ERA development is its relation to and integration with the wider world. The production and composition of knowledge have become globalised. While science always has been international, the scope of actors and the need for coordination and cooperation across the globe has changed dramatically in the face of global challenges. At the same time, there is an increasing specialisation of knowledge production and exploitation. Global division of labour and connecting the global centres of excellence that have emerged is a key requirement of the future. In addition, many of the problems European societies face are either the same as for other societies (obesity, demographic change) or transnational in nature (climate change, pollution, security) while the EU is just one among many international players. The overarching challenge of decoupling economic growth from the depletion of the ecosphere and preserving natural capital demands an unprecedented alignment of efforts on a global scale.

There are a number of changes in the way research and innovation is being embedded in the societal context. Changing values and lifestyles are giving rise to new societal expectations of research and innovation. Changing economic and institutional contexts introduce new rationales into knowledge production. Established boundaries, such as basic and applied research or users and producers of innovation and knowledge, are blurring. New actors such as NGOs, citizens and user groups are increasingly playing relevant roles in the realm of research and innovation.

The need for research and innovation to address the grand challenges in realms such as health, food, security and sustainability is not only increasingly advocated but also poses new kinds of challenges. Transformative socio-technical pathways rather than isolated key technologies need to be explored. Social innovation, service organisation and organisational innovation need to be aligned with breakthrough technological innovation. Experimental approaches are gaining relevance for successful innovation trajectories, in particular when transitions are at stake. These changes make it imperative to situate ERA in the global context.

Identifying the Grand Challenges of the Future

In order to generate custom-made strategic intelligence for the future of ERA, the starting point was, first, to identify Grand Challenges (GC) and, secondly, to do so in relation to research sectors that are relevant to the ERA. The GC were identified based on existing EU documents and discussion papers that had been published in the context of pertinent foresight and horizon scanning projects. These GC were classified into relevant research sectors, for instance health, energy, environment and civil society. This approach allowed a thematic clustering of topics, which then served as a basis for broadening the scanning of FLAs. Ten sectors and more than 760 GC in total from a stock of 71 sources were identified.

The stocktaking was designed so as to collect information that would help reach the objective of the work package, i.e. to answer questions such as,

  • What Grand Challenges in the fields of economy, environment, geopolitics, society and ethics, technology and health are the documents and projects under consideration concerned with?
  • Do these documents and projects represent the discourse on Grand Challenges in the European Union and in other parts of the world?
  • What conclusions can we draw from these documents concerning the future governance needs of the ERA? And what do they tell us about the future requirements of RTI governance?

Sixteen Grand Challenges

The VERA team managed to identify 16 Grand Challenges from the analysis and clustering of 760 individual issues from the inventory and interviews with individual STI experts:

  1. Uncertainty is arising from a multipolar world

Increasing polarisation and regionalisation are driving towards a multipolar world. Possible evolutions and implications of or even solutions for this multi-aspect and multi-level challenge are still hardly understood.

  1. Values and attitudes are changing globally

Attitudes and values are changing globally; societies and particularly policy need to respond to these changes.

  1. The traditional role of the state is challenged

A number of developments require new models of governance that go beyond the traditional model of the state.

  1. The world is becoming more interconnected and thus more vulnerable

The more the world becomes interconnected and interdependent, the more new forms of crime and security threats are interlinked and have far-reaching consequences at all levels of society.

  1. Health concerns of an aging society are rising

The ageing of populations has diverse implications for science, technology, economy and society that are proliferated in the context of new health risks and ineffective health systems.

  1. A risk of financial system failure is emerging

In the financial sector the risk of systemic failures is increasing.

  1. Current non-sustainable economic models come under scrutiny

A growing unease with the current model of economic growth calls for alternative approaches to societal progress at the macro level. At the same time, environmentally sustainable business models are required in all sectors of economic activity.

  1. Migration requires responses

The challenge of migration takes many forms as a consequence of other challenges such as climate change, food and water shortages, natural disasters, pandemics etc., each of which requires a specialised and coordinated response at various levels of governance.

  1. Education is struggling to cope with new demands

The education and training systems in Europe need to be modernised. A more specific demand defines the need for education systems capable of promoting sustainability, innovation and solidarity values, and new professions require highly skilled craftsmanship.

  1. The health situation in deprived regions is deteriorating

Impoverished regions around the world are struggling with acute and virulent health issues.

  1. Climate change is causing new diseases

New health problems are arising globally due to climate change.

  1. Providing basic resources for increasing global demands becomes difficult

Without ecologically, economically and politically sustainable solutions, scarcities of basic resources may lead to extensive and serious social and political problems in some areas of the globe.

  1. Material resources are becoming increasingly scarce

Demand for metals and minerals is growing dramatically, especially due to the fast growth of emerging economies and increasing strategic demand for minerals in industrialised economies.

  1. Our modes of energy supply and use are threatening the survival of humankind

Adopting sustainable forms of energy production and consumption is one of the key means for mitigating climate change.

  1. Transportation systems are coming under strain

Environmental and health impacts from emissions, mitigation of climate change, urbanisation, the need for traffic safety and security, and avoidance of traffic jams are among the drivers pushing towards the reinvention of mobility and full-scale transition of existing transportation systems.

  1. EU competitiveness is endangered

The fragmentation of Europe, poor education and skills as well as rising costs and declining labour force participation caused by demographic change may prevent effective exploitation of Europe’s research and innovation potential.

Facing the Grand Challenges to the Future of Europe Means Facing the Global Ones First

From the analysis of a broad range of sources on Grand Challenges, it becomes clear that we cannot take a European perspective only. Especially not when attempting to identify ways of dealing with the Grand Challenges, or at least some of them. The most pressing challenges are globally interconnected and require global action. Topics like Our modes of energy supply (14), Providing basic resources for increasing global demands (12) and The world becoming more interconnected (4) are the ones most frequently discussed. They also show the need to accept shared responsibility on a global scale, which implies that the EU countries cannot lay back and point to other countries to take action. On the contrary, from a European perspective, European countries are among the major contributors to the drivers of the Grand Challenges and among the major countries affected as well, although the impacts of the Grand Challenges are more widespread globally than the drivers are.

The sixteen clusters identified and discussed above also seem to be the ones that call for policy action most immediately and represent the cases where such action could make a substantial difference if planned and executed in a systemic way.

To face the Grand Challenges to the future of Europe, most of all we need to cope with the global ones. If we make a major contribution to the global ones, we will be better equipped to cope with the challenges that lie ahead for Europe.

What we as Europeans have to face is that our lifestyle and the underlying economic model must be considered the root of fundamental problems with devastating global consequences. Many studies and independent resources have pointed this out before. It is of course not only the European lifestyle but also that of all developed economies. At the same time, the global interconnectedness that seems to make this lifestyle transferable to emerging, lagging and, in the long term, even to undeveloped economies also makes societies vulnerable to shocks in many respects.

Facing the Grand Challenges means to introduce fundamental changes in many areas of our lives and activities, thereby affecting global liaisons as well. Even if radical changes are unrealistic, the changes required in tackling the Grand Challenges will be felt by every European citizen. Policy-makers are in a crucial role as these changes will not occur without fundamental and coordinated policy measures in almost every policy area.

Furthermore, it becomes clear that the scope of these Grand Challenges is in essence societal. We need to take this into account when we talk about policy action, for example in the area of research, technology and innovation policy – in the respective work packages of the VERA project and beyond. We especially need to consider what the impact of that societal scope is with regard to the systemic character of handling the Grand Challenges.

Text Analysis and Discussion with “ERA Thinkers”

The second set of tasks performed was to synthesise the existing insights on trends, drivers and key dimensions of change in European RTDI governance. A computer-assisted analysis helped to characterise the body of discourse on ERA in a systematic and quantitative manner. The analysis of text data on ERA was expected to allow interpretations and descriptions of the attitudes, structures, values and norms that currently dominate STI governance. In view of the large quantities of data in textual form, text analysis provided an important means of discovering obscured meanings and unveiling hidden relationships. The computer-assisted analysis took as a point of reference a pre-understanding of ERA constituencies gained through literature review. Following the digitisation of the entire corpus, linguistic analysis software was used for cleaning and formatting, unitising and indexing. The development of categories and dictionaries, as well meaningful associations, relied on qualitative analysis techniques.

Quantitative text-analysis software allowed to produce an aggregation of unit-level coding. Statistical and network analysis software was used to highlight frequencies, trends, comparisons, networks and maps of relevant factors influencing STI governance.

Subsequent interviews with ERA “thinkers” served to obtain additional types of information (i.e. narratives, accounts, fronts, stories and myths).

Relevant factors identified by means of discourse and interview analysis provided the basis for a so-called key-factor workshop with key stakeholders. The insights on potential key factors were synthesised into a background document.

Based on these insights, VERA developed scenarios on the evolution of the European Research Area. VERA’s uniqueness is grounded in the systematic knowledge base it creates, for example, by stocktaking exercises such as the one on Grand Challenges described above. They are publicly accessible and intended to be used widely. At the same time, the results of these exercises feed the scenario process, the subsequent assessment of the scenarios, and the exploration of strategic options. Another distinct feature of VERA is that it pays particular attention to the assessment and policy implications of the scenarios, which will help to make scenario results useful for policy-making and thinking about the future of ERA.

Authors: Susanne Giesecke         Susanne.Giesecke@ait.ac.at

Philine Warnke             Philine.Warnke@ait.ac.at

Effie Amanatidou           effie.amanatidou@mbs.ac.uk

Sponsors: European Commission, DG Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Programme
Type: Multiple issue brief
Organizer: Fraunhofer Gesellschaft – ISI, Karlsruhe Germany, Stephanie Daimer, Stephanie.Daimer@isi.fraunhofer.de
Duration: 2012-2014
Budget: € 1,940,000
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: Decemeber 2012

Download EFP Brief No 251_VERA

Sources and References

References

The Lund Declaration (incl. its addendum), July 2009; available for download at

http://www.vr.se/download/18.7dac901212646d84fd38000336/ Lund_Declaration.pdf

Links to further results of the VERA project at http://www.eravisions.eu

The inventory contains 726 individual Grand Challenges named by the 67 screened FLAs. It has been submitted in an independent report and can be downloaded at http://vera.dev.zsi.at/stocktaking/list

EFP Brief No. 250: Mediating Different Stakeholder Levels in an “International Cooperation Foresight” Process

Friday, February 1st, 2013

The purpose of the New Indigo foresight process was firstly to identify the most important and most relevant drivers of current S&T cooperation between India and Europe. Its second aim was to engage relevant stakeholder groups in a structured discussion on what this cooperation should look like in 2020. Thirdly, long-term and short-term policy-recommendations for shaping this future have been developed.

Fostering Multilateral Research Cooperation between India and Europe

As one of the BRICS countries, India is among the biggest and most dynamic emerging economies worldwide, which increasingly excel in the area of science and technology (S&T). In her address to Parliament on 4 June 2009, India’s President declared the period from 2010 to 2020 as the “Decade of Innovation”. The main aim of the declaration is to develop an innovation eco-system to stimulate innovation and to produce solutions for societal needs, such as healthcare, energy, urban infrastructure, water and transportation. Although the gamut of innovation is vast and includes efforts in many sectors, the underlying emphasis is to boost advances in S&T. Focusing on the same time horizon, the European Union introduced the “Innovation Union”, a flagship programme of the Europe 2020 Strategy to be implemented from 2014 to 2020 to secure Europe’s competitiveness and face major societal challenges at a global level.

The European Commission and the European countries perceive India as an important future partner when it comes to S&T, as is evidenced by the fact that India was chosen to be the target country of the first pilot initiative of the Strategic Forum for International Science and Technology Cooperation (SFIC), an advisory body to the Council of the EU and the European Commission.

One of the EC funded instruments targeting S&T cooperation between India and Europe is the ERA-NET New INDIGO. The project fosters multilateral cooperation between the two regions by supporting the bi-regional policy dialogue, networking different stakeholders in the field of S&T cooperation, analysing current cooperation, identifying common priorities and implementing multilateral (networking and research) projects.

Following a participatory approach leading to policy-recommendations, the project conducted a one-year foresight study on the future of this cooperation between India and Europe. The consortium agreed to envisage a 2020 perspective, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy and the Decade of Innovation announced by the President of India in 2009.

The similarity of the political initiatives in both regions was the background against which a success scenario-based foresight study was conducted: a desirable scenario of what S&T cooperation should look like in 2020 was developed and respective instruments were identified that might be of help in turning the normative success scenario into reality.

From Bibliometric Research  to Delphi Analysis

The main methodologies used where Delphi analysis, scenario building, expert workshops and a bibliometric analysis. The methodological setup of the New Indigo foresight process is based on the idea that three main stakeholder groups are the most relevant for future EU-India S&T cooperation: policymakers, programme owners and scientists. The policymakers design the framework conditions within which S&T cooperation takes place and decide upon support structures. The programme owners/managers adopt an intermediary position between policymakers and scientists. They know both worlds, co-develop and implement dedicated programmes and, thus, are engaged in the actual implementation of S&T internationalisation policies. The scientists, finally, are the ones actually performing research cooperation. They are the ultimate target group and main beneficiary of all internationalisation policies.

The New Indigo foresight exercise started at the end of 2010 with preliminary desk analyses on drivers of S&T cooperation and EU-India co-publication trends. On this basis, evidence on the current status and thematic focus of S&T cooperation between India and Europe could be provided as an input to the foresight and wider policy processes. Furthermore, in a series of online consultations as well as expert workshops, factors (‘drivers’) have been identified that are likely to influence what future collaboration might look like in the year 2020. Figure 1 (p. 3) describes our implementation model that can roughly be divided into two phases: one before and one after the first draft of a success scenario. The scenario development phase spans from the preparatory analyses via driver identification by literature analysis, email consultations, online Delphi for driver identification and validation, and expert workshops leading to a draft success scenario. The second scenario validation phase involves consultations on the validity and viability of the success scenario for different stakeholder groups, backcasting activities trying to indicate paths towards the success scenario, as well as the development of instrument and policy recommendations.

Assessment of Stakeholder Groups

In order to gather data and opinions from the three core stakeholder groups as mentioned above as well as include and engage them in the process of thinking about future S&T cooperation between the two regions, we opted for a twofold data collection approach: In the case of policymakers and programme owners, we arranged for physical workshops in the framework of the New Indigo project and beyond. By contrast, we approached the scientists by means of an open email consultation followed by a Delphi survey.

The main reason behind these different ways of approaching the stakeholder groups is the fact that policymakers and programme owners concretely concerned with (and thus knowledgeable about) this form of cooperation are few in number. For these few, however, our preparatory analyses and project experience suggested that they have a good overview of the current state of programmes and future plans. Thus, it makes sense to try to investigate their expertise in more depth and engage them personally, not least because they have a major stake in designing the political framework conditions for the future they are reflecting upon in the foresight analysis.

As regards the programme owners, again, their number is limited, and several of them who are engaged in EU-India cooperation in their national contexts also act as policymakers (especially in the smaller EU member states and in India). It was this group of stakeholders that was most easily accessible via the New Indigo project as they formed part of the consortium as partners or members of the steering committee.

The scientists, however, are a much larger stakeholder group. We avoided to randomly approach large groups of Indian or European scientists and did not invite small groups to give us their individual and, given the large size of the population, unrepresentative views either. Instead, we considered it most reasonable to approach those scientists who already have cooperated. We decided to revert to co-publications as a proxy for cooperation experience, i.e. we looked for scientists from each of the regions who have already published with scientists from the respective other region and engaged them via an online consultation and Delphi survey.

The whole exercise dealt with the constraints proper to international S&T cooperation foresight (cf. Degelsegger, Gruber and Wagner 2011 in EFP Brief 201): increased complexity due to the bi-regional perspective combined with very limited time resources of and difficult access to policymakers. Moreover, members of this stakeholder group are, as said above, in a position not only to assess but to significantly shape the future we aim to look at, which again adds complexity to the process as few relevant variables can be considered totally external. Regarding the scientific community, it is not easy (due to time constraints on their side and negative experiences with policy consultation processes or simply disinterest) to attract those scientists to the foresight exercise who are excellent in their field, willing to cooperate and knowledgeable about science cooperation (and willing to adopt a meta-perspective on what they are doing).

Mediating Different Stakeholder Levels

As depicted in Figure 1 (p. 3), the different stakeholder groups were firstly assessed in parallel and the assessment results of one group then fed into the subsequent discussions in the other group(s): For example, drivers identified by scientists were categorised and prioritised by programme owners and policymakers. In a second Delphi round, the results of these discussions were again presented to the scientists for validation. This implementation method proved very fruitful regarding the participatory aspect of the foresight exercise: while, for example, some of the drivers identified by scientists seemed rather obvious to programme owners or policymakers, usually experts in the field of STI cooperation policy, discussions showed a growing understanding of the scientists’ problems and triggered some revised viewpoints. At the same time, the scientists, confronted with the success scenarios (based on programme-owner assessments of urgent and feasible drivers), came to harmonise and translate their expertise and experiences in a way that the latter could inform recommendations on policy instruments. With regard to the mediation of different stakeholder levels, one of the lessons learnt is that taking the time for a kind of ‘preparatory’ discussions is a necessity. Such discussions are yet not focused on a concrete set of drivers or scenarios but target the topic of cooperation rather openly. While such time may be perceived as wasted on side topics or general statements, it is actually necessary for the group members to align their thinking and experiences with each other and in view of the expected output of the meeting. Even later in the foresight process, participants (not all of whom had participated in the process from the start) had to be given time to start discussions “from zero”. The task of the workshop leader is to pull together and harness the discussions reasonably without frustrating individual input while building understanding for different levels within S&T cooperation.

250 New Indigo Foresight

Figure 1: Relation of different stakeholder levels within the foresight process

 

Another lesson learnt – which is actually well-known but became quite apparent in this particular international cooperation foresight – is the contradiction of the participatory (integrating all inputs to the extent possible) and the strategy building aspect of success scenario-based foresight: Involving a broad range of stakeholders makes it difficult to avoid a fairly general wish list of success indicators; at the same time, reasonable recommendations beyond commonplace solutions had to be developed. Again, it is upon the process designers and workshop leaders to guide discussions towards an agreed but still fairly concrete selection of instruments.

Outcomes and Impact

New Indigo has had the opportunity to present the results of its foresight study, particularly the short-term programme recommendations, not only in form of a deliverable to the European Commission, but in front of a high-level political stakeholders audience during the regular session of the India Pilot Initiative of the Strategic Forum for International S&T Cooperation (SFIC-IPI) in Vienna on 30 November 2011. The presentation was followed by comments and a discussion with the SFIC-IPI members and contributed to contextualising and complementing the short-term programme recommendations. Additional perspectives were considered in the discussions, for instance regarding the challenges the implementation of the programme recommendations faces in different national contexts, as well as regarding new forms of support to bi-regional collaboration (Networks/Virtual Centres of Excellence, part-time academic personnel exchange etc.). The most prominent outcome of the process is the integration of results into the draft EU-India Joint Strategic Agenda (currently in preparation, see: http://ec.europa.eu/research/iscp/index.cfm).

In addition, the results and outcomes, particularly the short-term recommendations, have been presented at the second EU-India S&T Cooperation Days in Vienna on 1 December 2011, a multi-stakeholder conference that gathered over 150 participants from India and Europe. The results are available to the public on the New Indigo website (www.newindigo.eu)

Funds for Mobility and Platforms for Joint Research

Finally, long- and short-term recommendations towards a 2020 horizon were deducted from the success scenario developed as part of the exercise. In its complete textual form, this success scenario reads as follows:

“By 2020, success in EU-India S&T Cooperation has been achieved by support to activities in each of the three areas of facilitating, funding and training.

With regard to the facilitation of cooperation, researchers have funds and fora available to meet their Indian/European counterparts. A significant number of established multidisciplinary networks of groups and senior scientists form the core of ongoing cooperation. Research funding schemes offer dedicated project top-up funds for mobility. Barriers for short and long-term mobility such as burdensome visa procedures have been removed and, at the same time, brain circulation channels have been opened that also facilitate career development.

Common standards are in place together with a standardisation in the area of IPR, allowing for fair treatment of each partner in bi-regional consortia and avoiding additional administrative efforts for the coordinators of joint projects. Formalised institutional cooperation has increased, for instance in the form of agreements between standardisation agencies (standardisation, joint testing, measurement, data, samples, etc.). Evaluation of collaborative projects and ex-post evaluation of project outcomes is uniform and transparent.

As regards funding, the availability of dedicated public as well as philanthropic financial resources is significantly higher in 2020 than it was in 2010, coupled with an increased and explicit donor commitment. Regular bi-regional calls for proposals with real joint funding (as well as virtual common pot funding programmes complementing bilateral programmes), complemented by co-funding from the European Commission, are in place. Scientists benefit from exchange schemes in the frame of specific research infrastructure in both regions as well as from access to joint infrastructure. In order to allow scientists to quickly find information and access to EU-India S&T cooperation funding, a single entry point information hub (e.g. in form of a website) for all Indian-European research funding offers is available. The results of successful joint multi- and bilateral S&T cooperation are presented to an interested business community in dedicated showcasing conferences, facilitating academia-business-society linkages. Society is involved in designing cooperation policy, priorities and the goals of collaborative research, while science itself applies a transparent and rigorous peer review mechanism.

R&D activities of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are scanned both in India and Europe and showcased in both regions. Successful or potentially research-performing SMEs are routinely approached to be updated on possible public research partners.

Finally, dedicated funds are available (as part of wider S&T cooperation funding) for hiring outside PhDs who can support the creation of and stabilise long-term exchange between senior scientists. Two-way short-term mobility of postdocs, postdoc exchange schemes supporting young scientists to come back to their home institutions (and countries), and similar programmes are also facilitating brain circulation.

When it comes to training, a central virtual platform exists for preparing, accompanying and motivating multilateral joint research as well as for the development of joint degrees and the exchange of PhDs in sandwich programmes. Activities and results are presented in actual workshops once a year. These support structures trigger significant brain gain in combination with mobility schemes mentioned above, for instance when an Indian fellow spends two years of his/her PhD in Europe and the rest of the time in India or vice versa.

There are mechanisms in place for the development and quality control of joint PhD programmes. Joint programmes take advantage of online and virtual learning systems” (Blasy, C. et al., 2012: 31-32).

 

Authors: Cosima Blasy       blasy@zsi.at

Alexander Degelsegger degelsegger@zsi.at

Sponsors: New Indigo, co-financed by the European Commission (FP7 )
Type: International (S&T) Cooperation Foresight
Organizer: Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), Alexander Degelsegger, degelsegger@zsi.at
Duration: 2010 – 2011
Budget: € 80,000
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: December 2012

Download EPF Brief No 250_New Indigo Foresight 2012

Sources and References

New Indigo Project website: www.newindigo.eu/foresight

Blasy, Cosima; Degelsegger, Alexander; Gruber, Florian; Lampert, Dietmar; Wagner, Isabella (2012): New Indigo International S&T Cooperation Foresight: A study of S&T cooperation future(s) between Europe and India. Project Deliverable 4.5 to the European Commission, online at http://www.newindigo.eu/foresight; last accessed on 13 October 2012.

Degelsegger, Alexander; Gruber; Florian (2010): S&T Cooperation Foresight Europe – Southeast Asia, in: Форсайт (Foresight), 4(3), 56-68.

ipts/Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (2007): Online Foresight Guide. Scenario Building, online at http://forlearn.jrc.ec.europa.eu/guide/3_scoping/meth_scenario.htm; last accessed on 13 October 2012.

UNIDO (2005): Technology Foresight Manual. Volume 1 – Organization and Methods, Vienna: UNIDO.

Technopolis Group et al. (2008): Drivers of International Collaboration in Research. Background Report 4, online at http://ec.europa.eu/research/iscp/pdf/drivers_sti_annex_4.pdf, last accessed on 24 July 2011.

Georghiou, Luke; Cassingena Harper, Jennifer; Keenan, Michael; Miles, Ian; Popper, Rafael (2008): The Handbook of Technology Foresight. Concept and Practice. Great Britain: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

EFP Brief No. 248: Drivers, Trends and Grand Challenges in Security

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

This brief gives an overview of the recent trends, drivers and ‘grand challenges’ in the area of security as they were iden-tified in the mapping and analysis of the 2nd EFP Mapping Report on Security Futures (Amanatidou et al., 2012). These findings were compiled from 16 different forward-looking activities (FLA), representing four types of FLA, namely: fore-sight, impact assessment, horizon scanning and forecasting. The selected FLA offer an interesting and complementary mix of national views and European perspectives.

Key global and European Security Issues

The concept of security has changed fundamentally over the last 25 years. The end of the cold war accompanied by a shift in global power distribution, failing states due to corruption, crime and religious fanaticism, risk of climate change and the interconnectedness of global hotspots giving rise to cyber-crime make the range of security challenges we are facing today and in the near future.

However, there is no clear separation between drivers, trends and ‘grand challenges’. The analysis of the original sources is not of a generic type but focuses on the security perspective. Some issues are mentioned in more than one group (as both trend and challenge, for instance) while some clustering would also make sense. This is attempted in this brief.

Globalisation is a major driver of evolutions with significant implications for security. Globalisation is likely to raise the level of interdependence between states and individuals within the globalised economy. Resources, trade, capital and intellectual property rely on complex networks of physical and virtual infrastructure that are likely to be vulnerable to physical disruption or cyber-attacks by multiple actors. Consequently, increasing dependency on this infrastructure, and the global supply chains that underpin globalisation, will leave the global economy vulnerable to disruption (DCDC 2010).

One of the main trends mentioned in the security FLAs is the emergence of new centres of power and the consequent redistribution of global power (EU-GRASP, NIC 2008). Associated to this is the shift of power to Asia as a major trend. In particular, the world of 2030 will be diffusely multipolar and polycentric. Polycentrism will be accompanied by an economic power shift toward Asia where over half of the world’s population will be concentrated by 2030. China is projected to be the largest economic power, and India will continue to rise. Both countries will face major structural challenges, however. Brazil may become a successful example of sustainable development during the next two decades. Russia and Japan will lose the great power status they enjoyed in the twentieth century (ESPAS 2012).

A constellation of rising middle powers, including Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa, will become ever more prominent (NIC 2008). The international system that is likely to emerge as a result of all these shifts will probably mix balance-of-power politics and multilateralism, with states making issue-by-issue shifts and alliances. This will generate a higher level of unpredictability in international relations and make it harder to attain a broad consensus even on matters requiring urgent global action (ESPAS 2012). This shift of global power is likely to result in a period of instability in international relations, accompanied by the possibility of intense competition between major powers as there will be several states and institutions competing for regional and global influence, cooperating and competing within the international community (DCDC 2010).

The grand challenges addressed in the security FLAs are climate change, scarcities, global inequalities, changing demographics and migration.

Climate change has a central position in the analysis of trends and challenges. Temperature increases are likely to lead to significant environmental change that may, for example, include desertification in the Saharan margins and changes to rainfall distribution patterns within the monsoon belt of the Arabian Sea and South Asia. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will change, possibly with severe impact on low-lying coastal regions. Rapid glacial melt, particularly in the Himalayas, may exacerbate water management problems in China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Disease carriers, such as malarial mosquitoes, are likely to spread into previously temperate zones (DCDC 2010).

Special reference is being made to the consequences of climate change affecting living standards and public safety by exacerbating water and food scarcity with environmental degradation expected to continue to provoke humanitarian disasters, including desertification and floods of increasing magnitude. The severest impact will be felt in China, South Asia and the Sahel where millions of people will be displaced; but no region of the world will be spared (ESPAS 2012).

Scarcity in energy, food and fresh water resources is also separately addressed in relation to the social unrest and conflicts they may cause. The frequency, scale and duration of humanitarian crises are likely to increase. Many states, including China and India, are likely to become more dependent on food imports to feed their large and increasingly affluent populations. A shift in agricultural patterns and the distribution of grain growing areas, coupled with the rise in animal and plant diseases, is likely to disrupt food production, resulting in increased migration. However, improvements and efficiencies in agricultural production are likely to meet much of the increased demand, given likely scientific advances that develop high-yield, disease resistant crop strains, combined with better land usage and improved irrigation. Humanitarian crises due to water scarcity and related food and health emergencies may become recurrent, particularly in some parts of Africa. Competition for resources is likely to exacerbate tensions and trigger conflicts. Energy crises will heighten the sense that the world is entering an ‘age of scarcity’, putting the prevailing model of development into question (ESPAS 2012).

Inequalities of opportunities is another grand challenge due to globalisation and increased access to more readily and cheaply available telecommunications. This type of inequality is likely to be a significant source of grievance, possibly resulting in an increased incidence of conflict. However, states that experience lower birth rates and increased longevity are likely to benefit from a growing workforce and a falling dependency ratio. The result is a ‘demographic dividend’, which can produce a virtuous cycle of growth (DCDC 2010).

Demographic trends are also mentioned among the grand challenges as possible causes of tensions. Demographic trends may fuel instability especially in the Middle East, Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The developing world will account for most of the growth, remaining relatively youthful, in contrast to the developed world and China, which will experience little population growth and undergo significant increases in median age. In the West, however, ageing is likely to lead to policies to employ the ‘younger old’. This cultural shift may yield a second demographic dividend leading to a lower demand for migrant workers and decreasing the social welfare burden. (DCDC 2010) The populations of several youth-bulge states are projected to remain on rapid growth trajectories. Unless employment conditions change dramatically in parlous youth-bulge states, such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen, these countries will remain ripe for continued instability and state failure (NIC 2008).

Nevertheless, populations in many affluent societies are likely to decline, encouraging economic migration from less wealthy regions. Environmental pressures, economic incentives and political instability will continue to drive population movement from afflicted regions. Conflict and crises will also continue to displace large numbers of people. Such movement is likely to occur in regions of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia (DCDC 2010).

In terms of responses to humanitarian crises, we will witness a world characterised by the diffusion of power. Meeting the challenges of human development will depend increasingly on non-state actors, be they private companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), or philanthropic institutions. Non-state actors, in particular national and transnational civil society networks and private corporations, will play a critical role in the coming decades. Their power and influence will be greater than that of many states and may lead to new forms of governance and civic action. But not all contributions by private actors will be positive: extremist non-state actors are likely to present a threat to the well-being of human communities (ESPAS 2012).

The rising power of non-state actors vis-à-vis the state is a central theme examined from several perspectives. Concurrent with the shift in power among nation-states, the relative power of various non-state actors—including businesses, tribes, religious organisations and criminal networks—is increasing. The global political coalition of non-state actors plays a crucial role in securing a new worldwide climate change agreement. In this new connected world of digital communications, growing middle classes and transnational interest groups, politics is no longer local and domestic, and international agendas become increasingly interchangeable (NIC 2008).

The impacts from the empowerment of individual and non-state actors are addressed. In democratic societies, new forms of protest and anti-establishment politics may emerge in response to a growing expectations gap, deepening income disparities and the power shifts that are limiting the action of countries that have been used to acting as major global players. From the security perspective, it is expected that over the next two decades the cyber sphere is likely to become an arena of conflict and tension between states of all political stripes and also between individuals or private companies.

The examination of the role of the individual in future societies goes even further, indicating that the citizens of 2030 will be much more aware of being part of a single human community in a highly interconnected world. This may signal the rise of a new ‘age of convergence.’ Democratic aspirations will tend to be perceived as compatible with, even as facilitating, a greater awareness of national and sub-national cultural identities (ESPAS 2012).

The role of women is also examined. Over the next 20 years, the increased entry and retention of women in the workplace may continue to mitigate the economic impacts of global aging. Examples as disparate as Sweden and Rwanda indicate that countries with relatively large numbers of politically active women place greater importance on societal issues such as healthcare, the environment and economic development. If this trend continues over the next 15-20 years, as is likely, an increasing number of countries could favour social programs over military ones. Better governance also could be a spinoff benefit, as a high number of women in parliament or senior government positions correlates with lower corruption (NIC 2008).

The current economic crisis is referred to as a driver that may reverse the trend of decreasing inequalities due to the emergence of a middle class in Asia, Latin America and also Africa. Overall, however, inequality will tend to increase and poverty and social exclusion will still affect a significant proportion of the world population (DCDC 2010). At the same time, increasing social and economic pressures may undermine liberal institutions and the long-term prospects for greater democratisation (NIC 2008).

The proliferation of modern weapons’ technologies will generate instability and shift the military balance of power in various regions. Nuclear weapons are likely to proliferate. Terrorist groups are likely to acquire and use chemical, biological and radiological or nuclear (CBRN) weapons possibly through organised crime groups (DCDC 2010), but a major conflagration involving CBRN weapons is not likely to happen over the next two decades (ESPAS 2012, NIC 2008).

The possibility of inter-state conflict cannot be discounted entirely. Looking ahead to 2030, the border tensions between China and India over water resources have the greatest potential to disrupt international peace. Conflicts are also foreseen due to current tensions between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara, the problems emerging as a result of the possible collapse of North Korea, and unresolved conflicts in Eastern Europe. Tensions over raw materials may also cause conflict and require new forms of crisis management. Intra-African and trans-regional forced migration due to economic factors, conflicts and environmental degradation will tend to grow. Wars fuelled by nationalism and extremist identity politics, and the associated dangers of mass murder and genocide, will be among the core security challenges of the coming decades (ESPAS 2012).

Despite the emergence of a possible ‘age of convergence’, ideologically driven conflicts are another form that continues to exist. The social tensions caused by intrusive global culture are likely to be most acute amongst those who seek to maintain their indigenous and traditional customs and beliefs, and feel threatened by changes. This is likely to lead to an increasing number of individuals and groups forming around single issues that differentiate them from wider society and becoming marginalised and possibly radicalised. When such conditions exist, particularly when exacerbated by high levels of marginalisation and social exclusion, sections of the populace will develop grievances that may lead to extremism (DCDC 2010).

Urbanisation is also seen as an important trend. By 2040, around 65%, or 6 billion, of the world’s population will live in urban areas, attracted by access to jobs, resources and security. The greatest increases in urbanisation will occur in Africa and Asia. As up to 2 billion people may live in slums, these areas are likely to become centres of criminality and disaffection and may also be focal points for extremist ideologies. Rapid urbanisation is likely to lead to an increased probability of urban, rather than rural, insurgency (DCDC 2010).

In addition, megacities are also highlighted as possible sources of conflicts as well as important future players. By 2030, the fifty greatest megacities in the world will concentrate more resources than most small and middle-income states, and they will demand more autonomy and exert greater power, even taking on a more prominent international role. Preserving humane living conditions in the world’s megacities will be the major challenge facing some states. Cities will also absorb most national security resources (ESPAS 2012).

Trends in innovation and technology are also being examined especially for solutions to the major trends and challenges mentioned above. Technology will provide partial solutions for both adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change. However, it is unlikely that, by 2040, technology will have produced low emission energy sources capable of providing the majority of the energy demanded. Nevertheless, advances in carbon capture technology are likely to be significant, allowing fossil fuel usage to continue in a limited emission regime using more coal. Despite this, resource competition, carbon pricing, increased energy demand and the limitations imposed by climate change are likely to increase the cost of fossil fuels, stimulating the development of cleaner, renewable energy solutions and nuclear power (DCDC 2010).

However, from a security perspective, technology will also facilitate the organisation of protests and high impact terrorist attacks. The future global environment will be defined by physical, social and virtual networks. The physical system will consist of complex interconnections, including extensive resource pipelines, communication cables, satellites and travel routes. The virtual networks will consist of communications servers linking individuals and objects, many of which will be networked through individual Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Avenues for protest and opportunities for new and old forms of crime will emerge and may allow hostile groups to form and rapidly create effect (DCDC 2010).

In terms of defence technologies, many states are likely to develop ballistic and cruise missiles capable of delivering CBRN weapons as well as conventional payloads (DCDC 2010). The majority of the technological breakthroughs are likely to be driven by the commercial sector, although technological adaptation in defence will continue at a rapid pace. Nonlethal, directed energy weapons (DEW), space and cyber technologies will be available to a wide variety of actors, both state and non-state (DCDC 2010).

Finally, there is growing demand for multilateral policies in the global and regional arenas for an increasing number of issues from the fight against climate change to disease control. There is, therefore, need for more multilateralism and, arguably, for a larger European role (EU-GRASP).

The Way Forward in European Security Research

In several studies, recommendations address a number of grand challenges from a security perspective, for instance, in the field of energy, the environment or migration. FORESEC, for example, recommends developing a common EU energy security strategy – energy policy is still driven by national-level approaches. FORESEC also recommends a dialogue with the security and intelligence services across the EU as useful input in formulating counter-terrorism legislation at the EU level.

EU-GRASP places special emphasis on the role of the EU in a multi-polar world and recommends that the EU adapt to changing global multilateralism. The EU must be steady in promoting multilateralism as an ideal but extremely flexible in its multilateral practice; it must find ways to engage with legitimate sub-national, multinational and transnational non-state actors and their networks.

In its recommendations, the NATO Security Jam study (Dowdall 2012) focuses on security issues of global concern, managing relations with emerging powers such as establishing a NATO-China Council (NCC) similar to the NATO-Russia Council.

SANDERA produced a long list of suggestions for further research. One suggestion regards the analysis of the portfolio of policy instruments at the EU level in view of defining the potential for strengthening European synergy in defence research.

FORESEC repeats the importance of researching certain definitional and analytical aspects of security (i.e. on societal aspects of security, unintentional threats, external dimension of security and its link to internal security, cultural aspects of terrorism, societal resilience and cultural and social identity). In addition, it suggests assessing impacts of certain challenges on security, i.e. vulnerability of societies in the EU, migration and demographic shifts and security, climate change and security, urbanisation and security.

EFP Mapping Results represent a major step forward in the successful implementation of a new mapping framework (SMART Futures Jigsaw) capable of providing customised forward-looking research and innovation policy intelligence on a wide range of sectors, such as security. Both the Mapping Environment (a web-based platform available online at www.mappingforesight.eu) and our mapping work (1st, 2nd and 3rd EFP Mapping Reports) demonstrate the commitment of EFP to the mapping of FLA practices, players and outcomes. Thus, our FLA mapping work will almost certainly continue beyond EFP.

Authors: Effie Amanatidou         effie.amanatidou@mbs.ac.uk                   Rafael Popper             rafael.popper@mbs.ac.uk                         Thomas Teichler thomas.teichler@technopolis-group.com
Sponsors: n.a.
Type: Thematic overview on security
Organizer: MIoIR/MBS, University of Manchester
Duration: n.a.
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020-2050
Date of Brief: December 2012

Download EPF Brief No. 248_Drivers, Trends and Grand Challenges in Security

Sources and References

Amanatidou et al. (2012): 2nd EFP Mapping Report on Security Futures. Towards a Fully-Fledged Futures Mapping: Results of Mapping 16 FLA on Security, available for download at http://www.foresight-platform.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Deliverable_2-4_2nd_EFP_Mapping_Report_Security_Futures.pdf

DCDC – Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (2010): Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2040, available for download at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/33717/GST4_v9_Feb10.pdf

Dowdall, Jonathan (2012): The new global security landscape. 10 Recommendations from the 2012 Security Jam, available for download at http://www.securitydefenceagenda.org

ESPAS – European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (2012): Global Trends 2030 – Citizens in an interconnected and polycentric world, available for download at http://www.espas.europa.eu/home/

EU-GRASP, http://www.eugrasp.eu/, last access 15 January 2013

NIC – National Intelligence Council (2008): Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, available for download at http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Newsroom/Reports%20and%20Pubs/2025_Global_Trends_Final_Report.pdf

EFP Brief No. 247: Delphi-based Foresight for a Strategic Research Agenda on the Future of European Manufacturing

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

This follow-up brief recapitulates the foresight exercise of the “Manufacturing Visions – Integrating Diverse Perspectives into Pan-European Foresight (ManVis)” project. Six years after the project was concluded, we look back with the purpose of extracting key lessons learned. We ask what the mid-term and long-term implications of this foresight exercise are, specifically how effectively the Delphi method was deployed to examine a wide spectrum of aspects underpinning the future trajectory of European manufacturing with a particular emphasis on the elaboration of scenarios that provide a broad basis for public discussion on the future of European manufacturing. This follow-up brief draws particularly on the lessons learnt from the organisers’ perspective.

Creating a Vision of the Future of European Manufacturing

The central purpose of the ManVis project was to inform a continuous process of policy development to enhance the competitiveness of the European manufacturing industries through a structured foresight exercise. In particular, the ManVis project was expected to contribute to completing the picture of the socio-economic dimensions that shape the technology dynamics in European manufacturing industries.

The policy relevance of the ManVis project was essentially linked to its role as one of the central strategic foresight studies in which the preparation of a more detailed Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), aimed at paving the way for the definition of research priorities to be implemented via the EU’s future RTD Framework Programmes, was anchored. The ManVis foresight was launched in response and complementary to the results obtained from previous foresight exercises and empirical surveys indicating that manufacturing in Europe needed to strengthen its innovation capacity in an environment where manufacturing is increasingly being relocated to locations outside Europe. Together with the FuTMaN (“Future of Manufacturing in Europe 2015-2020 – The Challenge for Sustainable Development”) project, the ManVis project was a central pillar of the Manufuture European Technology Platform, composed of high-ranking representatives of European industry and the scientific community, that was initiated in December 2004 with the explicit purpose of elaborating specific technology roadmaps, both horizontal and sectoral, to define the priorities for the first calls for proposals of EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

In sum, the ManVis project addressed the following questions:

(a) Which technologies will be relevant to European manufacturing?

(b) What role will European manufacturing play in a more competitive world?

(c) Is European manufacturing prepared to meet the challenges of knowledge-based manufacturing?

(d) Which visions and challenges emerge for European manufacturing?

The ManVis Foresight Approach:
Delphi and Demand-side Scenarios

Delphi is a long-established methodology to create consensus among a wide range of opinions as a basis for developing an informed view on visions and alternatives in the setting of priorities in controversial or complex fields of science and technology policy. The ManVis Delphi survey collected the views of more than 3,000 manufacturing experts in 22 European countries as well as those of stakeholders and overseas experts that were collected during workshops and through interviews.

The Delphi survey covered developments of all relevant aspects of manufacturing from technological dynamics to organisational concerns and issues related to sector-specific developments. In parallel to the survey, scenarios on the future development of the demand side of manufacturing were elaborated.

Flexible Automation Instead of Unmanned Factory

The following key messages on technological dynamics in European manufacturing were derived from the ManVis Delphi survey:

(a) Micro-electromechanical devices, smart materials and products using nano-coatings represent long-term developments of new types of products with the potential to disrupt markets.

(b) New manufacturing technology principles, such as bottom-up manufacturing technologies are only expected in the long run. Manufacturing technologies using biotechnologies to create and manipulate inorganic material and products, such as nano-manufacturing, should be on the long-term “radar” of RTD policy.

(c) Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) as well as flexible organisation and automation strategies combined in reconfigurable manufacturing systems supporting flexible business strategies are important topics on the short-term research agenda. However, as a particular aspect, the experts surveyed viewed the unmanned factory with skepticism. Instead, they forecast that humans working with flexible automation solutions will play an important role in creating flexibility.

(d) Only long-term automation visions comprise human-machine interfaces such as man-machine speech recognition, self-learning systems and co-bots.

From these key messages the following implications were derived for the role of manufacturing research in combining the long-term horizon in technology trajectories with the short-term needs of firms to innovate successfully: Basic manufacturing research needs to prepare for new challenges, whereas applied manufacturing research should focus on the adaptation and transformation of existing technologies and organisational processes. Considering the functions of manufacturing research, it has been suggested that these key messages on future technology dynamics be discussed using the concept of the combined science-technology cycle of innovation (see Figure 1).
bild1

Figure 1: Manufacturing-related technologies on the sci-ence-technology cycle for macro innovations (Source: ManVis Report No. 3, Delphi interpretation report)

Integrating Non-technological Aspects

The ManVis Delphi survey covered many aspects of knowledge-based manufacturing related to the working environment. In particular, organisational concerns as they are linked to new challenges of product development were examined. In one of the interviews conducted for this follow-up, however, one of the organisers of the foresight process highlighted that – although the ManVis project was considered a “creative pool” for the construction of the Manufuture platform – contributors to the platform were skeptical concerning several of the organisational challenges. This was explained by a lack of interest in issues of work organisation at the company level, in particular on part of the predominantly larger industrial firms represented on the platform (SMEs were not represented). In addition, the organisers stated that the ManVis foresight contributed greatly to the integration of non-technological aspects in the debate on the future drivers shaping technological dynamics and on the demand for skills and competencies.

Furthermore, the interviewee argued that the Delphi results had the intended wide-ranging impact because the survey did not focus on sector issues alone. Although this impact was important in consolidating the field of manufacturing research, the foresight results were not followed up by more in-depth indicator-based (e.g. patents) research with a greater focus on sectoral issues. This was, however, not considered a methodological constraint but rather a weakness in following up on the Delphi results.

In addition, the organisers mentioned two methodological aspects as particularly important in shaping the results of the Delphi survey:

(a) The organisers’ interventions during several workshops at the national level, held to prepare the Delphi survey, played a central role in condensing the themes and elaborating the Delphi statements. As in any Delphi survey, the heterogeneity of the participants assured the validity of the results. In particular, the responses to the survey highlighted the facilitator’s role in coordinating the pool of heterogeneous expertise coming from a great diversity of technological and non-technological fields during the initial workshop, at which a list of 100 statements on a wide range of manufacturing topics was generated, as very important for the final outcome of the Delphi process.

(b) With regard to the stability of the responses to obtain a consensus among the participating experts, the summary feedback of aggregated responses of the second round did not generate any significant new changes. Under efficiency considerations, it could therefore be argued that the survey administration could have used statistical methods to analyse the data from the first round to assess whether any subsequent rounds were needed and, if not, terminate data collection after the first round.

Direct and Indirect Achievements of the ManVis Foresight

The ManVis Delphi survey results provided a broad basis for public discussion on the future of manufacturing in Europe. In particular, by complementing previous foresight studies intended to improve the self-understanding of the European manufacturing industry, it constituted an important pillar in the development of a strategic manufacturing research agenda at the European level. Several of the issues that were highlighted by ManVis, such as the need to explore the implications of user-driven innovation for manufacturing systems, were taken up in FP6.

Beyond its intended effects, the ManVis foresight also had some important unintended effects such as making a central contribution to the definition of research needs of the new member states that joined the European Union during the 2004 enlargement. Another central achievement of the ManVis foresight process was also an unintended side effect, namely to involve these new member states in the development of a Strategic Research Agenda on manufacturing in Europe.

Effective Dissemination of the Results under Budget Constraints

Since the financial budget for dissemination activities was cut significantly during the negotiation phase with the European Commission, the ManVis dissemination approach was under strain from the beginning of the project. Nevertheless, the project reported the results of the foresight to a wide audience of industry and governmental stakeholders at the Bled Conference in October 2005. This conference, which would not have been realised without the national resources of the Slovenian ManVis partner, provided a strong signal of interest in and relevance of identifying the manufacturing research needs in the new eastern member states.

Reaching the Policy Level

The ManVis key messages have been disseminated at the policy level to a wide set of stakeholders and actors of the European Commission, the member states, and industry. During the interviews for this follow-up brief, the communication with European policymakers was described as very good and the interaction with the EC as very supportive, in particular with regard to the central goal of feeding the results of the foresight exercise into key European initiatives such as the Manufuture European Technology Platform.

In sum, the outcomes of the Manvis project served to bring manufacturing experts with different national and professional backgrounds together to discuss the visions and the possible paths for securing the future of manufacturing in Europe. The results of the ManVis project have been fed into the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme.

Learning about the Manufacturing Research Needs of the New Member States

It was reported during one interview with the organisers of the foresight that a central achievement of the ManVis project was to involve the new member states in the development of a Strategic Manufacturing Research Agenda at this particular time. While the EC only had partial knowledge about key institutions and actors shaping policy development processes in areas related to manufacturing, it was an important indirect achievement of the ManVis foresight initiative to involve many experts and policy stakeholders from the new member states in defining and assessing the manufacturing research needs at the European level. In this sense, the networking effect, particularly during the Delphi preparation workshops, was highly appreciated by European policy stakeholders because they provided a unique opportunity to get acquainted and build strong relationships with key experts from these countries and to use the foresight initiative to define priorities for the first calls for proposals for the upcoming Seventh Framework Programme.

In this sense, the direct involvement of the new member states in the definition of research topics to be supported was stated as one of the most important, yet unplanned and indirect, contributions of the ManVis foresight process. The research topics thus identified are considered to have real industrial relevance and the potential to produce measurable impacts in terms of marketable products and services or more efficient manufacturing methods in the context of the catch-up process that these countries are undergoing.

Contributions to EU Enlargement

The ManVis foresight process made an important contribution to completing the picture of technology dynamics in manufacturing. At the particular time of realisation, i.e. in the aftermath of the 2004 EU enlargement, the Delphi survey not only set out several possible trajectories for developments of future manufacturing processes and policy scenarios, but it also helped to define the R&D position of 22 EU countries. In the context of the shifting comparative advantages due to the salary increases to be expected particularly in the new member states, the ManVis foresight provided an important platform to learn about manufacturing research priority topics and the adaptations needed at the level of companies and innovation systems. Beyond the identification of research needs, a concrete achievement of the ManVis foresight lies in the strong integration of key stakeholders from both public policy and industry of the new member states in the long-term planning of European research funding for manufacturing.

Authors: Dirk Johann             dirk.johann.fl@ait.ac.at

Elisabetta Marinelli   elisabetta.marinelli@ec.europa.eu

Sponsors: European Commission (Directorate General Research)
Type: International foresight activity (Specific Support Action) covering the enlarged European Union, focusing on the thematic area of manufacturing
Geographic coverage: Europe
Organizer: Fraunhofer ISI Karlsruhe, OPTI,  JRC-IPTS, Cambridge University, IVF Sweden and national correspondents in 22 European countries
Duration: 2003 – 2006
Budget: € 1,500,000
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: July 2012

Download EPF Brief No. 247_ManVis_Follow-up

Sources and References

Dreher, C. et al. (2005), ManVis Report No. 3 – Delphi Interpretation Report, Deliverable D15, Contract No. NMP2-CT-2003-507139-MANVIS

Dreher, C. et al. (2005), ManVis Report No. 6 – Manufacturing Visions – Policy Summary and Recommendations, Deliverable D17, Contract No NMP2-CT-2003-507139-MANVIS

European Commission (2006), Manufuture Strategic Research Agenda – Assuring the Future of Manufacturing in Europe – Report of the High-level Group, European Commission, Directorate-General for Research: Brussels

Jung-Erceg, P. K. Pandza, H. Armbruster, C. Dreher (2007), “Absorptive Capacity in European Manufacturing: A Delphi Study”, Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 107, 1, 37-51

Link to the original Foresight Brief No. 53 “European Manufacturing Visions – ManVis 2020”: http://www.foresight-platform.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/EFMN-Brief-No.-53-European-Manufacturing-Visions-ManVis-2020.pdf

EPF Brief No. 241: Embedding Futures Thinking in Environmental Policymaking

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Many of society’s most pressing problems are long-term policy challenges, lasting a generation or more. Policymakers and business leaders often face strategic decisions with uncertain future outcomes. Despite numerous unpredictable factors, decision-makers need to be confident that they can achieve specific outcomes. Failing to do so could result in systemic failures with major consequences for society. The European Environment Agency (EEA) undertook analyses through the BLOSSOM project (Bridging long-term scenario and strategy analysis: organisation and methods) to identify a ‘toolbox’ of approaches to institutionalise long-term futures thinking in government; to explore which countries have introduced respective approaches and tools, and to identify the pioneers as well as which methods have become commonplace and which have not; to look for commonalities and differences and identify the factors that can explain the success or failure of efforts to embed a long-term perspective in policymaking.

Why Bring Foresight to Environmental Policymaking?

While academic literature has thoroughly assessed the pros and cons of different methodological approaches, systematic analysis of the use, impacts and effectiveness in environmental policymaking is still superficial or absent. It is evident that the institutional and governance aspects of foresight work need to be given more attention. We also need new structures that break with single forecast models, which miss the complexity and uncertainty in future developments, and different institutional arrangements to implement them. For future studies to gain greater relevance in policymaking, there are also two science-policy challenges that have to be tackled: policymakers often perceive future studies to be evidence-based and the time scale of future studies differs from that of policymaking.

The characteristics of the problem-solving context make it very hard to introduce the long-term perspective needed to analyse environmental problems. However, futures thinking and foresight is increasingly being used to inform policy, through the use of techniques such as expert panels, workshops and scenario planning. Explorative or normative scenarios are often used for long-term futures thinking whereas for more short-term purposes predictive techniques such as forecasts and outlooks are more common.

Analysis of Success Factors and Barriers

The analyses proceeded in two stages. In the first stage in 2008, the EEA started to analyse the success factors and barriers to a long-term perspective in public policymaking with particular reference to environmental planning. The EEA report Looking Back on Looking Forward (EEA, 2009) — a precursor to this study — reviewed the available evaluative scenario literature. The research found that only a few studies evaluated the actual impact of scenarios. Most of those studies found that scenarios were indeed useful in preparing corporate strategies and public policy, although most focused on the business sector. Moreover, the public sector presented several difficulties, including the varied set of goals and interests that public agencies face. The research concluded that more empirical evidence is needed particularly on what types of scenarios work in different contexts and the institutional arrangements that enable scenarios to be used more effectively in order to demonstrate that scenarios can deliver on their promises.

The second stage focused on analysing the role and relevance of futures analysis and the practical experiences with adapting institutional arrangements to embed a longterm perspective in government in EEA member countries. Country case studies were developed for eight EEA member countries based on interviews with practitioners in government, administration and policy advisory bodies along with a review of relevant academic and nonacademic literature. During 2010, four additional case
studies were included following the same approach. The project involved consultations on draft case study country reports and the comparative analysis report with the interviewees and other stakeholders in all the countries studied. In the later stage, additional consultations took place with the EIONET network of experts. Upon completion of the case studies, the crosscutting report analysed the key findings and presented a crosscountry comparison (available at http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/blossom/).

Focus on Institutional and Governance Structures

The research did not seek to evaluate the quality of individual futures studies or to explore the whole range of futures work (such as research or technology foresight). It only addressed the aspects most relevant to environmental policymaking, notably the institutional and governance structures.

Design and Analysis of the Country Case Studies

The BLOSSOM country case studies were developed following a common approach. Each started by identifying several important aspects:

Institutions
· Central body for futures thinking vs. diffuse structures across departments
· Internal vs. external advisory bodies
· Formal vs. informal networks
· Role of parliament/parliamentary bodies
· Maturity of formal futures work

Mechanisms
· Permanent vs. ad hoc arrangements
· Degree of independence of futures/foresight bodies
· Formal vs. informal reporting

Process
· Stakeholder vs. expert led futures work
· Use of specific futures techniques, e.g. scenarios, horizon scanning
· Thematic range (cross-sectoral vs. sectoral)

In addition, at least two external factors are crucial for embedding futures thinking:
· Level of political support
· National administrative culture

The case study countries were selected to provide a range of cultural, geographical, institutional and administrative approaches, including countries that were at very different stages of implementing futures thinking. Detailed case studies were compiled and informed by interviews with senior officials in the respective member states. Following the production of individual country case study reports, SWOT analyses were undertaken for each country, providing the analytical framework for understanding which factors facilitated knowledge exchange from futures studies or research into practical policymaking in each country. These were then presented for each country as SWOT-tail diagrams. SWOT-tail© diagrams combine fishbone (Ishikawa) diagrams with SWOT analyses to provide a visual and concise summary analysis for each country. Clearly, there is no ‘one-sizefits-all’ solution; context and path dependency matter.

Development of Futures Thinking over Time

The country case studies revealed very different histories of futures thinking across the countries studied. Taking the introduction of a central foresight body as an example, the analysis showed that some countries (e.g. Portugal, Sweden) had long-standing central foresight bodies (since 1950s/60s) while most countries have established such bodies only since the 1990s. Some countries did not have a central foresight body at the time of the study (i.e. Hungary and Slovenia).

Commonalities and Diversity among Approaches

As noted, the country case studies analysed institutions, mechanisms and processes, and facilitated comparison between country approaches. This showed which approaches and structures were most and least common. A central foresight body, thematic studies and some use of scenarios in policymaking were all seen in 10 out of the 12 countries studied. However, less common were formalised foresight reporting requirements (5 countries), routine stakeholder involvement (5 countries) and horizon scanning formally in place (3 countries).

‘Maturity’ of Futures Work

Futures work and how it relates to environmental policy was classified by its ‘maturity’ into the categories mature, developing and nascent (see Figure 1). Futures work was considered most mature where it could mostly draw on permanent and formalised systems, diverse networks across levels of government and departments, and where experience of futures studies had a clear influence on policy. The category developing was applied where some features of futures work had been introduced and futures arrangements show evidence of lasting structures and influence. Futures work was considered nascent where futures arrangements were in their infancy, i.e. mainly ad hoc or fragmented, or where institutional structures or governance arrangements to facilitate futures thinking in policy at the level of national government has only recently been introduced.

Parliamentary body/role of parliament: Some of the case studies, notably Finland, have shown that parliaments can play an important role in supporting futures thinking.

Internal body: In most countries, some form of futures work is performed in government departments (whether regularly or ad hoc) although not all have a central body that coordinates or advises across all areas of government.

External body: In the Netherlands and United Kingdom, no single centralised body deals with foresight. There are a number of external bodies/agencies that engage in futures work. In Slovenia, the Bled Strategic Forum, which works on long-term thinking at national and European levels, has sponsored debates about long-term futures, drawing thinkers from politics, industry and academia from all over Europe.

Process

Routine stakeholder involvement: The degree of consultation varies between countries, with Finland and Austria at one end of the scale with a high degree of participation and France on the other with comparatively little. Generally, the foresight topics are determined through consultations with expert stakeholders. Stakeholder participation is widespread among most futures programmes across the member states studied and driven by policy needs.

Thematic or sectoral: Cross-sectoral studies appear to be more common in the environmental sphere, even in countries that undertake both types.

Horizon-scanning system in place: Only a few countries have formally established horizon-scanning systems either centrally or within, for example, environmental agencies.

Mechanisms

Formally independent body/degree of independence: Trade-offs between access and independence are dealt with in different ways across countries. In most countries, this is somehow related to how the governmental institutions work.

Permanent or ad hoc arrangements: In general, the most effective bodies for futures studies have had a permanent role and structure within government. Some countries have created ad hoc groups for specific studies.

Governance Culture and Political Support

Governance culture and tradition of futures thinking: A long-standing tradition of futures thinking does not in itself facilitate the embedding of futures thinking in policymaking. Those with the most mature systems tended to have either a strong participatory, consensus-building governance culture (Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands) or a strong external advocacy tradition, as well as strong centralised government and policymaking (the United Kingdom).

Interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary approaches: The increasing importance of interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary approaches can be observed among the many environment-related futures studies considered.

Evidence versus strategy: It is apparent that in a few countries futures studies are used to develop or contribute to the evidence base upon which policies are built (and therefore often strongly associated with ‘science’ and science ministries), but they are also used to identify potential strategic priorities and ensure that the strategies developed have a view to the long term. The distinction between evidence and strategy is not absolute but, based on the individual country reports, it does appear that futures work is generally used for two sometimes distinct purposes: to inform strategic priorities or contribute to the evidence base upon which policies are built, using different methods.

Political support and policy needs: A further element that can shape the approach to futures thinking is the specific need in the policy sector (Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom, Germany) or influenced by work in other countries (France inspired by Finland, Hungary by the United Kingdom). In all four countries with nascent futures systems — Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Spain — advanced technology foresight work in other countries has been prominent. Another important criterion for embedding futures work in policymaking is a government policy calling for the use of futures studies.

Follow-up: The use of follow-up and feedback to futures studies seems to support the successful implementation of futures thinking in policymaking.

Key Success Factors for Embedding Futures Thinking in Environmental Policymaking

Policy demand and political support would appear to be overwhelmingly the most significant factor.

Need for policy-led futures thinking: policy interest and support may be key, and high-level ambassadors or ‘champions’ can help promote and influence the inclusion of futures studies in policymaking. High quality of studies helps to provide credibility and convince policymakers.

Resources: skills and capacity are required for a successful forward-looking programme.

Timeliness and relevance: to be taken up by policymakers, a futures study must be relevant to needs and available when needed.

Stakeholder engagement and participation: broad participation is an important success factor as it increases legitimacy and helps establish familiarity and understanding.

Potential role for parliament: Although parliamentary involvement is not necessarily a success factor, it may be important for facilitating democratic engagement in longterm environmental policymaking as well as a shift of futures work beyond a largely expert-driven process.

Barriers to Success

A major barrier, alluded to above, is the fundamental challenge for futures thinking in the science-policy debate and the dominant focus of government administration on electoral, legislative and budgetary cycles. Other barriers are:
· Departmental upheaval and reorganisation in the wake of establishing institutional arrangements for futures thinking
· Departmental silo mentality
· Lack of futures skills and awareness amongst officials and politicians
· Problems of scale: large futures studies can be unwieldy and miss their window of opportunity
· If not policy-driven, then futures thinking is unlikely to influence policy
· Cultural barriers (administrative traditions)

Recommendations for Action

Rather than rely on a trickle-down effect, there are active efforts governments can make to improve the integration of futures thinking into policymaking. These actions should include:

· capacity building,
· knowledge brokerage through networks,
· coordination of futures work through networks across government: to avoid duplication, to facilitate crosssectoral (thematic) studies,
· institutional arrangements that create policy demand, for instance formalised requirements for futures thinking, building futures thinking into long-term strategy development, formalised reporting requirements on government policy and a parliamentary role for futures thinking,
· techniques for prioritising futures studies (from systematic horizon scanning to top-down and bottom-up stakeholder, public and parliamentary involvement in the prioritisation process),
· clarity on the distinction between policy-relevant futures work and more blue-skies academic futures work (the former responding to policy demand, the latter pushing the boundaries and development of tools, techniques and approaches);
· sufficient resources to build capacity, networks and institutional arrangements;
· increasing participation, including the broad public: new technologies and innovative methods could be used to bring in a wider and more diverse range of opinions and ideas, as well as to disseminate study results and their implications.

Download EPF Brief No. 241_Embedding Futures Thinking in Environmental Policymaking.

Sources and References

EEA, 2009, Looking Back on Looking Forward: A Review of Evaluative Scenario Literature, EEA Technical Report No. 3/2009.