Purpose – This paper addresses a challenging topic, which in both academic and professional literatures has been widely discussed but mainly from one single angle – that is, how to select foresight methods. From that point of view researchers and consultants promote (even if unintentionally) the use of particular methods. Here the question of selection is raised from a different perspective: how are foresight methods selected?
Design/methodology/approach – The guiding ‘‘theory’’ is that a better understanding of the fundamental attributes of foresight methods and their linkages to the core phases of a foresight process, together with the identification of possible patterns in the selection of methods, will provide useful insights as to how the selection of methods is carried out.
Findings – So far the selection of foresight methods has been dominated by the intuition, insight, impulsiveness and – sometimes – inexperience or irresponsibility of practitioners and organisers. This paper reveals that the selection of foresight methods (even if not always coherent or systematic) is a multi-factor process, and needs to be considered as such.
Practical implications – The results can be utilised by lecturers and students to describe and understand better the use of foresight methods, and by organisers of foresight (including practitioners) to better inform decisions during the design of (hopefully) more coherent methodological frameworks.
Originality/value – The paper combines practical concepts and frameworks (such as the Foresight Process and the Foresight Diamond) with innovative analyses to represent and visualise better the combination of methods in 886 case studies, for example introducing the Methods Combination Matrix (MCM) to examine the dynamics of a mix of methods.
Keywords – Research methods, Design, Forward planning, Strategic planning, Creative thinking, Decision making
Type – Research paper
Authors – Michael Keenan and Rafael Popper
Purpose – The paper sets out to explore the nature and degree of variation in foresight ‘‘style’’ across six world regions. The underlying hypothesis is that differences in regional context – in terms of political, socio-economic, and cultural conditions – will affect foresight ‘‘style’’. At the same time, a secondary hypothesis acknowledges that policy tool transfer and international learning might soften the influence of contextual conditions.
Design/methodology/approach – Using the data collected for more than 800 foresight exercises in six world regions, the paper considers eight different dimensions of foresight ‘‘style’’, including domain coverage, time horizon, target groups, and methods used. It interprets regional differences (and similarities) with reference to dominant political and economic traditions in each region. In so doing, it tests the hypothesis that foresight ‘‘style’’ is influenced by regional context.
Findings – The analysis suggests that some foresight ‘‘style’’ dimensions vary between regions more than others. For example, there is marked variation in the domain areas covered by foresight across the world, while some regions appear to prefer particular methods over others. Time horizons also vary. For other dimensions, such as participation levels and the identity of target groups, there is a good deal of similarity. Thus, some dimensions of ‘‘style’’, at least at the aggregate level, seem to be more influenced by regional context than others.
Originality/value – The paper is unique in being the first publication to survey such a large sample of foresight activity across a wide part of the globe.
Keywords – Politics, Political science, Delphi method, Democracy, Governance, International organizations
Type – Research paper