Posts Tagged ‘SNA’

New Instruments in Foresight Studies

October 13, 2011 Comments off

Dr Popper (2011)Presentation on New Instruments in Foresight Studies at the “Research Workshop Foresight and Science, Technology and Innovation Policies: Best Practices” (Higher School of Economics, Russia).

The workshop was attended by some 100 stakeholders representing the research, business and public sectors in Russia. International speakers included Prof. Ian Miles, Prof. Luke Georghiou, Dr. Michael Keenan and Dr. Jennifer Cassingena Harper, among others.

Mapping Foresight

November 5, 2009 Comments off
Mapping Foresight
Mapping Foresight (2009)

The “Mapping Foresight” report is part of a series of publications produced by the European Foresight Monitoring Network (EFMN project, 2004-2008). The mapping activity was one of the main activities of the network. Over 2000 initiatives were mapped between 2004 and 2008 in Europe and other world regions, including Latin America, North America, Asia and Oceania. The report is the result of the first large international effort aimed at understanding the nature of foresight practices. Foresight has become more than just a tool to support policy or strategy development in Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI). Foresight practice is the result of a systematic work to promote effective processes to proactively think about the future. These processes can be applied to a variety of research areas or knowledge domains, such as natural sciences, medical sciences, engineering and technology, agricultural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.

Click here to read more.

Speaking at the International Conference on the Future of SSH (Brussels)

October 22, 2009 Comments off

International Conference on the Future of Social Sciences and Humanities

The future of the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) depends on their ability better to meet the needs of societies. To reach society, the economy and the political system, good interaction is required between the different intellectual communities, an interaction that overcomes traditional feuds between schools and disciplines. The first session presents and discusses the results of the SSH Futures project, a study about the future of the Social Sciences and Humanities in Europe.

The role of SSH in futures research

The role of SSH in futures research

In this conference I was invited to talk about What is the role of social sciences and humanities in futures (SSH) research?

To do so, in my presentation I used 841 cases to look at the role of the SSH in futures research. In Section 1 (Is futures research a fashion?), the study sets the context and argues that foresight is not mere fashion, thus showing that today’s futures research is increasingly becoming a key and systematic instrument for the development and implementation of research and innovation policy.

Section 2 (How to map interdisciplinarity in futures research?) provides a brief introduction to the Mapping Foresight activities carried out by the EU- funded European Foresight Monitoring Network (now European Foresight Platform – EFP). This section describes how the six areas of the Frascati taxonomy (engineering and technology, natural sciences, medical sciences, agricultural sciences, social sciences and humanities) were used to indentify (a) key areas of inter- and transdisciplinary research in Europe and (b) key areas of specialization even within the disciplines.

Section 3 (What is the role of SSH in futures research?) shows the interconnection and interdependency of SSH with other main areas and 62 sub-areas of the Frascati taxonomy. This section reveals, for example, that Engineering and Technology, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences are by far the most popular categories characterizing futures work. The results of the analyses show similar interdependency patterns between Engineering and Technology and Social Sciences. Another (hardly surprising) finding is the low proportion of Engineering and Technology studies interconnected with areas of Humanities (5%). However, it was indeed rather unexpected to find that 65% of the Humanities studies are linked to Engineering and Technology areas. At an aggregated level, these results expose the existence of uneven or asymmetric interconnections between research areas. However, at the lower levels, it is possible to identify sub-areas that might well be considered ‘knowledge junctions’ between SSH and other areas. The analysis suggests, for instance, that there are two equally important sub-areas linking the Engineering and Technology and Social Sciences areas, namely: Environmental Engineering and Communications Technologies. Although the importance of these linkages may be obvious for some, their recognition as fundamental ‘knowledge junctions’ in the relationship between Engineering and Technology and Social Sciences is a significant result of the mapping.

Section 4 (Final remarks and recommendations for the future of SSH) argues that social sciences is the ‘binder’ of all research topics in the foresight exercises. Except for Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences and Law, Justice and Law Enforcement, all topics are highly interconnected with other areas of the Frascati taxonomy. In particular, the study highlights the cohesive role of foresight on sub-areas of the Social Sciences. This is mainly because foresight projects are designed in such a way that, at some time in the process, linkages are established with the policy dimension or (using the Frascati terminology) with sub-area Policy and Political Science. This is quite the opposite with research within Humanities, which have the least salient links to other research topics. For this reason, the study recommends (1) promoting futures research on Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences and Law, Justice and Law Enforcement topics; (2) promoting futures research on sub-areas of Humanities, such as journalism, religion or history; (3) involving SSH researchers in activities aimed at informing and shaping foresight practices; and (4) informing SSH researchers, policy-makers and business communities about the role of SSH in futures research (such recognition could increase the profile of SSH; increase the interdisciplinary nature of research, networking and co-operation; and help identify more coherent and bottom-up Grand Challenges by interconnecting knowledge from a wide range of domains).

Click here to see presentation.

How are foresight methods selected?

November 11, 2008 Comments off
Outstanding Paper Award

Award for Excellence

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.

Using Social Network Analysis (SNA) to analyse foresight methods

Using Social Network Analysis (SNA) to analyse foresight methods

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

If you wish to receive an electronic copy of this paper, please contact me at or