Incorporating network perspectives in foresight: A methodological proposal
Purpose – A particular feature that makes foresight powerful is its capability to learn from past trends to help guide decision-making for future policy. However, in studying both past and future trends, network perspectives are often missing. Since networks are capable of revealing the structure that underpins relationships between stakeholders, key issues and actions in the past, they are powerful to help envisage the future. The purpose of this paper is to propose a methodological framework to incorporate network analysis in foresight.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper develops a generic framework to incorporate network analysis into foresight’s five stages. Trends identified by respondents of the Big Picture Survey are used to demonstrate how we operationalize this framework.
Findings – A network perspective can enrich foresight analysis in that it helps reveal structural linkages between trends and thus can better identify emerging future issues, both of which are critical in foresight.
Research limitations/implications – The inclusion of network analysis can shed light on the process of understanding complex data and assist in building a model based on links and relationships. Network analysis can reveal otherwise unobservable structural features of the data and can help boundary setting discussions in foresight.
Practical implications – Network concepts and measures could usefully enrich the interpretation of foresight data for further analysis, or plausible scenarios.
Originality/value – Network analysis offers a new way of looking at the foresight data by disentangling complicated issue webs. As shaping the future becomes more essential because of the complexity of science, technology and society interrelationships, the incorporation of network perspectives in foresight might be one of the ways to propel future studies.
Keywords: Networking, Social networks
Article type: Research paper
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