A Strategizing Perspective in Foresight: - in search of theories behind foresight

Publication: ResearchSound/Visual production (digital) – Annual report year: 2011


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Background: Foresight is a well-established field of practice and more recently an emerging academic field. The most academic foresight literature is descriptive or normative and relates to the practice of foresight (Georghiou et al. 2008, Popper, 2008). However, it is generally acknowledged in literature that there is gap between practice and theory in foresight (Hideg, 2007, Barré & Keenan, 2008), and recently literature has discussed the possible ‘theoretical underpinning’ of foresight and possible theory building in foresight (Fuller & Loogma, 2009; Öner, 2010; Borch, Forthcoming). Purpose: The overall purpose of the paper is partly to contribute to the discussion on the theoretical perspectives behind the practice of foresight and partly to suggest a strategizing approach in foresight practice. More specifically we focus on foresight as a policy tool for sectoral innovation. Approach: As repeated by numerous practitioners and scholars foresight is not only about looking in to the future but also about make things happen today. Also as noted by several scholars the practice fo foresight over the recent decades has changed from focusing on intra-organisational planning and forecasting in science and industry to put more emphasis on open and inter-organisational “strategizing” with inclusion of external stakeholders in the processes. The approach of the paper is to develop a concept for such strategizing. The paper uses three different theoretical approaches to gathering insights and inputs in order to facilitate strategizing in sectoral innovation systems. First, the literature of the innovation systems gives theoretical elements for ex post analyses of actors, institutions, knowledge flows, interaction patterns and dynamics of the considered system. This approach comprises both the current state of the sectoral innovation system and its ability to change (e.g. Lundvall, Nelson, Cooke, Edquest). Second, the litterature of futures studies gives an ex ante approach, with focus on long-term opportunities and trends and thus outlining future goals, roadmaps and priorities. Third, the litterature of governance of innovation policies focus on realization and implementation of plans and in this way suggest how to reach goals. This litterature also dicuss the policy measure tool box that might be available for policy makers (e.g. Lengrand, 2002; Edler & Georghiou, 2007; Mytelka & Smith, 2002). The paper draws on a cross-disciplinary study on the Danish agri-food sector.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2011


ConferenceYeditepe International Research Conference on Foresight and Futures


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ID: 5730741