Foresight: Turning Challenges into Opportunities
Foresight has gained much attention as a tool for developing and informing science, technology and innovation policy and company strategies. It is frequently used for detecting not only potential development paths of technologies but also possible economic and societal changes; and for identifying challenges that nations, societies and companies might face in the future. Raising awareness within the respective communities of trends and challenges is critically important—and the biggest challenge is how we can develop measures to meet these anticipated challenges. Paradoxically, perhaps, it may be more helpful for creating and implementing successful measures if these are elaborated by thinking about grasping opportunities, rather than framing them in terms of threats that have to be responded to. Accordingly there is a need to change the mindsets in science, technology and innovation policy making—and to engender solution and opportunity orientation among scientists and engineers.
Science, technology and innovation (STI) involves numerous policy fields which are championed by different government ministries or agencies. A consistent and coherent anticipatory policy mix is understood to be one that ensures a timely development and implementation of various forward-looking policy instruments. Such timely implementation is crucial for the eventual impact of the policy measures. This also requires that foresight for STI policies looks beyond the potential development paths and challenges but includes the time dimension and the outline of necessary policy responses including a relevant implementation framework. In addition the institutions which are part of the National Innovation Systems (NIS) should to be considered thoroughly for a well-balanced and comprehensive policy mix. Not only national but also regional and local actors need to be involved—and they need to be involved not only in the implementation of policy but at much earlier stages in the foresight and subsequent design procedures of the policy mix. One practical approach for convincing and engaging NIS actors at different levels is to stress opportunities which offer advantages to each of them, instead of just focusing on challenges and problems.
Technology foresight has been increasingly undertaken by developing countries to identify technologies whose adoption might serve as a platform for future economic growth. However, foresight activities have not, by and large, resulted in well-developed policy initiatives. Three factors are relevant for improvement. First, foresight activities would benefit from being more informed by the convergence literature and global convergence experience over the past several decades, and should therefore incorporate organically the concepts of absorptive capacity and technology gap into foresight exercises. Second, certain preconditions – in particular the existence of a functional national innovation system – enhance the likelihood that foresight exercises will be successful. Third, in order to achieve wide buy-in and promote the sustainability of initiatives generated by the foresight activity, developing countries are advised to consult widely in the foresight process. Policies emanating from foresight activities should additionally address two core challenges: a) a clear definition of those technologies that should be developed internally vs. those that should be sourced from abroad and b) identification of the internal capabilities to be developed in conjunction with those technologies targeted for acquisition from abroad.
This book develops foresight techniques to turn future societal challenges into opportunities. The authors present foresight approaches for innovation policy and management. Future developments in fields such as education, energy, new materials, nanotechnologies are highlighted for different countries. Readers will discover tools and instruments to capture the potentials of the grand societal challenges as defined by the United Nations. This book is a valuable resource for researchers and scholars with an interest in foresight methods and gives practical hints for policy makers and managers to take account of the grand opportunities in their business and policy strategies.
Three approaches are developed for assessment of different types of organizational ambidexterity proposed in the relevant literature. The new model for measurement of organizational ambidexterity using data envelopment analysis (DEA) is introduced. The DEA score based on innovation activity inputs and two different performance outputs acts as a proxy for organizational ambidexterity. Sustainability goals and product ambidexterity are also analyzed as the key characteristics of ambidextrous behavior. The introduced three approaches are tested for their aptness to complement each other as well as to support a strategic decision-making. Empirical examples from energy and pharma sectors associate organizational ambidexterity with firms’ performance. We measured the organizational ambidexterity of energy and pharma companies by (1) pursuing long-term versus short-term organizational performance measured as a DEA two-output efficiency score; (2) the share of disruptive products in a company’s activities assessed through the proportion of R&D expenditure or sales; and (3) sustainability versus financial performance of the company, where the Green ranking and participation in innovative financing programs were used as proxies for sustainable development. Positive relation between performance and organizational ambidexterity for energy sector are discovered. At the same time, orientation towards sustainability disrupts performance of pharmaceutical companies. Results of the OA impact on performance are highly industry-sensitive and depend on the methods used in empirical assessment. Our findings suggest that the scarcity of data sources make all three approaches complementary and mainly functional for strategic decision-making.
Decision-makers at all levels are being confronted with novel complexities and uncertainties and face long-term challenges which require foresight about long-term future prospects, assumptions, and strategies. This book explores how foresight studies can be systematically undertaken and used in this context. It explicates why and how methods like horizon scanning, scenario planning, and roadmapping should be applied when dealing with high levels of uncertainty. The scope of the book moves beyond “narrow” technology foresight, towards addressing systemic interrelations between social, technological, economic, environmental, and political systems. Applications of foresight tools to such fields as energy, cities, health, transportation, education, and sustainability are considered as well as enabling technologies including nano-, bio-, and information technologies and cognitive sciences. The approaches will be illustrated with specific actual cases.
The book gives practical guidance for policy makers, analysts and researchers on how to make the most of the potential of Foresight studies. Based on the concept of evidence-based policy-making, Foresight studies are common practice in many countries and are commonly understood as a supportive tool in designing future-oriented strategies. The book outlines approaches and experiences of integrating such Foresight studies in the making and implementation of science, technology and innovation (STI) policies at different national levels. It delivers insights into practical approaches of developing STI policy measures oriented towards future societal and technological challenges based on evidence drawn from comparable policy measures worldwide. Authors from leading academic institutions, international organizations and national governments provide a sound theoretical foundation and framework as well as checklists and guidelines for leveraging the potential impact of STI policies.