Quantitative and qualitative approaches in Future-oriented Technology Analysis (FTA): From combination to integration?
The FTA community relies on a set of disciplines and methods, which try to better understand and shape the future from different methodological perspectives. Whilst the community has grown since the first edition of the International Seville Conference on Future-oriented Technology Analysis (FTA), there is still little dialogue and exchange between those applying quantitative and those applying qualitative methods. The FTA events have, since the beginning, provided an avenue to debate methodological aspects and this paper summarises and furthers the discussion developed during the 2011 edition, building on the debates at the conference and between members of the conference Scientific Committee, to which the authors of this paper belong. In particular this paper describes the methodological state of the field through a tripartite taxonomy of increasing levels of qualitative and quantitative integration. It shows how significant progress has been made for simpler forms of combinations but not for more sophisticated (and perhaps more promising) ones. Following that, it suggests that an epistemological divide, common to the social sciences as a whole, combined with cultural differences and misconceptions within the FTA community are amongst the factors undermining further methodological integration. The paper concludes by suggesting some steps, combining research and practice, to overcome such barriers.