Technology foresight in transition
Technology Foresight (TF) became an increasingly popular approach for science, technology and innovation (STI) policymakers from the mid-1990s on. Achieving prominence in Japan and Western Europe, it attracted the attention of researchers and policy analysts in many parts of the world in subsequent decades. TF is often seen as a set of tools for informing decisions about STI priorities within established innovation systems. These priorities have necessarily changed as scientific knowledge, technological opportunities, and social demands have evolved. But so too have the ways in which innovation processes operate, and understandings of the roles that STI policies can play. Accordingly TF has also been applied to inform efforts to restructure innovation systems - and, indeed, it was often seen as also providing tools to assist in such efforts. The need for such restructuring has been particularly acute in countries undergoing massive transitions. These include transitions from centrally planned to market economies, from non-industrial to newly industrialized countries, and from being imitation-oriented to becoming innovation pioneers. Correspondingly, considerable effort has been put into TF in many such countries. But much of this TF effort has been largely invisible, or at best poorly documented. TF may itself require redesign, taking different forms in various contexts, and as experience with the tools has accumulated. This might involve different patterns of emphasis of, and ways of articulating: the methods that are employed; the stakeholders engaged; the linkages with STI policymaking; and so on. Informed by the contents of this Special Issue, this essay considers the issues arising from this diffusion and evolution of practice, outlining the main capabilities required to mount successful TF exercises in different contexts.