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Four fundamental frameworks of foresight

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Charles Featherston would like to introduce the work he and Eoin O’Sullivan have been doing in foresight for science, technology, and innovation policy (technology foresight).

Despite technology foresight’s wide use, Government reviews indicate that clarity about the various approaches to foresight is poor in practice (House of Commons, 2014; Cabinet Office, 2013). Often a metaphor of a journey is used to describe the various approaches taken in foresight exercises, but like all metaphors it has explanatory and descriptive limits. Foresight is important for policy because it helps inform policy decisions, supports implementation, helps build knowledge communities, and enhances capabilities for thinking about the future and organisational agility. However, the conceptual underpinnings for foresight is dispersed among its various practicing communities, and attempts to bring these together reflect the varied approaches and difficulty with which foresight is defined.

This work draws on literature from technology foresight, technology management, futures, public administration, and the resource-based view and dynamic capabilities perspectives from strategic management to identify four frameworks that help to describe some common approaches to foresight. How these frameworks are applied in practice is illustrated using three case studies.

This talk is part of the Manufacturing Research Forum series.

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