Posts Tagged ‘governance’

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. 194: Envisioning Digital Europe 2030: Scenarios for ICT in Future Governance and Policy Modelling

Monday, September 19th, 2011

This foresight exercise was conducted as part of the CROSSROAD Project – A Participative Roadmap for ICT Research on Electronic Governance and Policy Modelling, a FP7 Support Action that aimed to provide strategic direction, define a shared vision, and inspire collaborative, interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder research in the domain. This research set out to help policy makers implement the Digital Agenda for Europe, the flagship initiative of the EU 2020 strategy launched to increase EU growth and competitiveness in the fast-evolving global landscape and address the grand challenges our world is confronted with today.

Combining ICT for Governance and Modelling to Assess Policy Impacts

In 2009, the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (Work Programme ICT 2009-2010) launched a programme of research on ICT for governance and policy modelling, joining two complementary research fields that have traditionally been separate:

  • the governance and participation toolbox, which includes technologies such as mass conversation and collaboration tools; and
  • the policy modelling domain, which includes forecasting, agent-based modelling, simulation and visualisation.

These ICT tools for governance and policy modelling aim to improve public decision-making in a complex age, enable policy-making and governance to become more effective and more intelligent, and accelerate the learning path embedded in the overall policy cycle.

In 2010, the European Commission funded the support action: CROSSROAD A Participative Roadmap for ICT Research on Electronic Governance and Policy Modelling (www.crossroad-eu.net) in order to advance the identification of emerging technologies, new governance models and novel application scenarios in the field of governance and policy modelling.

The main goal of the CROSSROAD project was to design the Future Research Roadmap for this domain and to structure a research agenda, which could be fully embraced by the research and practice communities.

Overall, the research roadmap aims to push the boundaries of traditional e-government research to new limits and help resolve the complex societal challenges Europe is facing by applying ICT-enabled innovations and collaborative policy modelling approaches, which include the harnessing of collective intelligence, agent-based modelling, visual analytics and simulation, just to mention a few.

In this context, a foresight exercise was conducted to look at the future of ICT-enabled governance and develop a vision of the role of ICT research in shaping a digital European society in 2030 through four thought-provoking visionary scenarios.

The scenario design developed aimed to provide a structured framework for analysis of current and future challenges related to research on ICT tools for governance and policy modelling techniques. The scenario framework proposed was chosen to stimulate further debate and reflection on possible, radical alternative scenarios. It takes today’s world and constructs images of possible future worlds, highlighting ways in which key uncertainties could develop. The aim is to present clues and key impact dimensions, thus increasing the ability to foresee possible development paths for the application of ICT tools for governance and policy modelling techniques. Thus risks can be anticipated and better preparation can be made to take advantage of future opportunities. In turn, this outlines key elements to be taken into consideration for the further roadmapping and impact assessment of future research in this domain.

Four Views on European Information Society

Instead of attempting to forecast possible future ICT-enabled scenarios, four internally consistent – but radical – views were defined of what the future European Information Society might look like in 2030. These give four distinctly different visions of what Europe’s governance and policy making system could be and what the implications of each could be for citizens, business and public services.

Following the mapping and analysis of the state of the art in research themes related to ICT for governance, policy modelling and the identification of emerging trends, the main impacts on future research in this area were defined. They were further refined through an analysis of existing scenario exercises and the current shaping of policies and strategies for the development of the European Information Society.

The uncertainties underlying the scenario design were: 1) the nature of the dominant societal value system (more inclusive, open and transparent or exclusive, fractured and restrictive), and 2) what the response (partial or complete, proactive or reactive) could be to the acquisition and integration of policy intelligence techniques in support of data processing, modelling, visualisation and simulation for evidence-based policy making.

Accordingly, the key impact dimensions were classified on two axes: degree of openness and transparency (axis y) and degree of integration in policy intelligence (axis x). The axes represent ways in which social and policy trends could develop.

Based on these dimensions, scenarios were then developed in a narrative manner as descriptions of possible outcomes in selected key areas, representative of the European context, where emerging trends related to the development of ICT tools for governance and policy modelling techniques could have an impact.

The Open Society…

The vertical axis indicates the degree of openness and transparency in a society in terms of democratic and collaborative governance, which could be further enabled by ICTs. The most open and transparent society would be one where even traditional state functions are completely replaced by non-state actors through opening-up and linking public sector information for re-use. Such a society would be characterised by open standards and principles of transparency and accountability in governance and public management. An important aspect of this scenario would be the regulatory and technological solutions and also the socio-cultural attitudes to the basic digital rights underpinning the future Information Society. In fact, the concept of openness is not strictly related to technological solutions but rather to socio-cultural and organisational aspects that can be enabled and supported by technological advancement.

…and the Integration of Knowledge

The horizontal axis shows the degree of integration of data and knowledge and the mode of enabling collaboration between all stakeholders in policy design and decision-making. This involves the possibility – enabled by ICTs – to mash up data and information available from different sources in an ‘intelligent way’, meaning in a way that is efficient, effective and suitable to generate public value. It also involves the extent to which users, individually or as members of formal and informal social networks, can contribute to the co-design of policies, simulating and visualising the effects of legal and policy decisions, and engage in real-time monitoring and prior assessment of possible expected impacts at local, regional, national and pan-European levels. This horizontal axis is also associated with the capacity and willingness of policy actors to share power and change decision-making mechanisms in order to facilitate the redefinition of basic democratic freedoms in a collaborative fashion. This could go to the extreme of redesigning the traditional mission of the state and the role played by governance stakeholders. Again, ICTs are not the driving force; rather change is driven by changes in social values, attitudes and new paradigm shifts in terms of information management, knowledge sharing and the allocation of resources.

Scenarios for Digital Europe 2030

In the Open Governance Scenario, users will enjoy unprecedented access to information and knowledge. By shifting cognitive capacities to machines, humans will be freed from the work of memorising and processing data and information and will be able to focus on critical thinking and developing new analytical skills. This will enhance collective intelligence (both human and ICT-enabled). Humans will be able to use policy modelling techniques to help solve global challenges. Possibilities for the provision of personalised and real-time public services will be opened up. The online engagement of citizens and various governance stakeholders will increase. Citizens, businesses and researchers will have direct access to data they need, and this will create new opportunities for people to interact with and influence governance and policy-making processes and help to make progress in solving societal problems. Governance processes and policy-making mechanisms will be based on intelligent, ICT-enabled simulation and visualisation systems, which will be able to find meaning in confusion and solve novel problems independently of human-acquired knowledge. New, open ways of producing and sharing knowledge will radically change traditional governance and decision-making. This will herald an era of open innovation, with unimagined opportunities for research and technological development. Public, private and third sector institutions will start to listen more carefully to their stakeholders, and a sort of ‘molecular democracy’ will arise.

The Leviathan Governance Scenario assumes that an ‘enlightened oligarchy’ will emerge that uses high-tech tools and systems to collect and manage public information and services. Judgement and decision-making will be based on analytical processing of factual information from the many by the few for the benefit of all. Full-scale automatic simulations and policy intelligence tools will facilitate decision-making and the oligarchs will simply approve the recommendations of these tools for the best policy option for the majority of citizens. ‘Real-time governance’ will be possible where the government/citizen relationship is under total control. Public service delivery will be personalised without people having to ask, thus saving a great deal of time. Citizens will trust the government and will be willing to delegate their right of initiative. They will be persuaded to be happy with this situation, as no human-caused problems will exist; emotions and thoughts will be controlled and directed towards the public good. Citizens’ choices will be restricted by predefined and pre-calculated algorithms that optimise people’s performance. However, information overload or potential failure of information systems to respond to critical, unforeseen situations would result in chaos, with humans and devices not knowing how to respond.

In the Privatised Governance Scenario, society will be shaped by decisions taken by corporate business representatives. Discussion on social issues and about the role and behaviour of citizens will be muted, as people will be pawns whose needs and desires will be managed by large corporations. Interactive and participatory governance mechanisms will be sidelined, along with democracy as we know it today. Simulations based on data gathered by sensors and collected from continuously monitoring and analysing networks, businesses, customers and the environment will produce global information that will nonetheless be fragmented and owned by corporations. Systems will be threatened by frequent attacks from independent groups and dissident communities. The media will be owned by the large corporations and will generally support them. Misinformation and jamming campaigns will be launched, making it necessary to verify all information and data. In this scenario, there will be opportunities for high innovation and development due to the pressure of competition on a free market. However, such opportunities will be useful only for the limited number of users able to afford them. Risks will arise due to private interests and fragmentation of the public good, leading to a ‘fragmented society’ where social welfare services will not be guaranteed to all, thus exacerbating possible social tensions and conflicts.

The Self-service Governance Scenario envisages a society where citizens will be empowered to play the role of policy makers. In small expert communities, citizens will devise policies according to the do-it-yourself principle; they will choose from a menu of public services those they need and consent to. This ICT-enabled, self-organised society will be able to address emerging problems faster than traditional government could. Its creative, contextual solutions could prove to be more robust and resilient in a crisis. Nevertheless, the diversity of opinions between discrete communities may result in the deepening of existing divides and a lack of social cohesion. Insularity will afflict minorities most severely, as they lack local social networks and may run into communication problems due to language and cultural differences. However, thanks to efficient translation tools, the dissipative communities may, in the end, create a vibrant cross-cultural and multi-language society. The difference between success and failure will be marked by the distinction between creative group thinking and ‘crowd stupidity’. The process of the gradual disappearance of institutions and lack of trust in government will result in the need for new trust providers. Reputation management, for content and people, will play a significant role in service provision. As the majority of citizens will not be interested in participating in governance due to the lack of engagement culture, new Caesars may emerge who unify disparate groups but damage the subtle equilibrium between self-serving and collaborative cultures.

A Radically Different World Due to ICT Disruptions

In all the scenarios developed, the world in 2030 is expected to be radically different from today’s due to the unprecedented growth and speed of ICT uptake in several fields and the related impact ICT tools that enable governance and policy modelling techniques may have. The influences and drivers of innovation and renewal in the public sector, combined with increased financial pressure on states, will result not only in change, but will also affect the pace at which the state adapts to the new environment, to its new roles and to increased engagement with stakeholders and users.

Whichever scenario dominates in the future, conventional wisdom and familiar governance models will be challenged in the coming years as ICT-based disruptions impinge on democratic, consultative and policy-making processes. There is already evidence that the scope and scale of the transformations to come will have a major impact on society.

Since 2005, there has been a phenomenal growth in mass on-line collaborative applications, which has captured the imagination and creative potential of millions of participants – particularly the younger generations. In addition to new forms of leisure pursuits, community-building activities have also entered the political arena. Hence, these tools herald the transition to a different form of dynamically participative governance models.

Current Governance Models Not Appropriate

While such scenarios are readily imaginable, it is recognised that we currently do not have appropriate governance models, process flows or analytical tools with which to properly understand, interpret, visualise and harness the forces that could be unleashed. Present governance processes provide laws and regulations, interpret and define societal norms and deliver societal support services. Their legitimacy is derived through democratic processes combined with a requirement for transparency and accountability.

In a world that is increasingly using non-physical communication and borderless interaction, the traditional roles and responsibilities of public administrations will be subject to considerable change, and classical boundaries between citizens and their governments will become increasingly blurred. The balance of power between governments, societal actors and the population will have to adapt to these challenging new possibilities.

The scenarios developed as part of CROSSROAD served as an input to be compared with the integrated analysis of the state of the art in the domain of ICT for governance and policy modelling. Based on this comparison, a gap analysis was conducted to identify an exhaustive list of specific gaps where on-going research activities will not meet the long-term needs outlined by the future scenarios.

Through a participatory foresight process it was possible to bring together not only experts and interested parties from academia and research, industry and government, but also to involve directly policy-makers and other interested stakeholders. This exercise resulted in a substantial contribution to shaping the roadmapping of future research in the domain, thus proving to be useful and needed.

New Tools to Fully Exploit Mass Collaboration

Altogether, and due to the increasing demand for openness, transparency and collaboration that address broad governance and policy-making challenges, the scenarios identify the need for developing and applying ICT tools and applications that fully exploit the potential of mass collaboration and the open and participatory paradigm underpinning future technological developments and policy directions in Europe.

Research and innovation investment in this domain could create value for the EU community and avoid fragmentation of research efforts. It will require the development of a joint strategic research agenda on ICT for governance and policy modelling to support the building of an open, innovative and inclusive Digital Europe 2030. Innovation, sustainability, economic recovery and growth will in fact depend more and more on the ability of policy makers to envision clearly and effectively both the root causes and the possible solutions to complex, globalised issues.

Author: Gianluca Misuraca     gianluca.misuraca@ec.europa.eu
Sponsor: European Commission, Seventh Framework Programme, Work Programme ICT 2009-2010
Type: 1. European/international – covering issues from a European or even global perspective

2. Field/sector specific: focusing on ICT for governance and policy modelling

Organizer: European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies
(JRC-IPTS), Seville, Spain
Duration: 01-12/2010 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: June 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 194_Digital Europe 2030

Sources and References

European Commission, JRC-IPTS Scientific & Technical Report (2010) Envisioning Digital Europe 2030: Scenarios for ICT in Future Governance and Policy Modelling, Editors: Gianluca Misuraca and Wainer Lusoli, EUR 24614 EN – 12/2010 – http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publications/pub.cfm?id=3879