Inderscience Publishers

The use of foresight: institutional constraints and conditions

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The idea of foresight as a new tool for S&T policies rests on the need to face the challenges of high tech developments, to respond to increasing global competition and to develop inter-organisational strategies. However, the impact of technological and global changes varies per country and per innovation sector, as do possibilities to develop inter-organisational strategies. In this article, we analyse how the use of foresight studies depends on institutional characteristics of innovation sectors. We distinguish two independent factors to explain why foresight has more impact in certain countries and in certain sectors than in others. The first factor is the dependency between the actors involved in the foresight activity. The second is the strategic uncertainty due to the technological and global developments. The argument is supported by a secondary analysis of national foresight studies and of environmental technology foresight in the Netherlands, and a first analysis of foresight in medical technology.

Keywords: foresight, innovation policy, systems of innovation, institutional theory, comparative studies

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