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Terminology and Methodology for Benchmarking Foresight Programmes

Havas, Attila (2005): Terminology and Methodology for Benchmarking Foresight Programmes.


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This report, prepared for the ForSociety ERANET project, addresses a need to develop a common language and approach in comparing national foresight programmes. An appropriate terminology and methodology is particularly important, as foresight activities in various countries are characterised by a high level of diversity of structures, as well as varying levels of maturity, intensity, and efforts. This is often based on a diversity of perception and understanding of the role of foresight, linked to differing country context and approach. A meaningful comparison of foresight depends on a deeper understanding of the background to the evolution of foresight in each country and the template developed in this report is aimed at providing this level of detail. The report is organised in three parts: (1) the underlying concepts and framework for benchmarking – presenting (a) an overview of evolutionary economics of innovation, as a theoretical background, (b) a taxonomy of foresight programmes, as well as (c) the concept of intelligent benchmarking –; (2) a template for individual programme descriptions, together with (3) a glossary of key terms. The report claims that mechanistic or naïve benchmarking is likely to produce misleading policy conclusions. Intelligent benchmarking – learning by comparison, taking into account the broader context – is a more promising way forward. There is no ‘one best way’, and thus actual foresight programmes should not be benchmarked against an ‘ideal’, ‘optimal’ or ‘best practice’ design of foresight. They can be benchmarked against 3-4 ‘ideal types’ of future-oriented programmes, and this can lead to meaningful methodological and policy lessons.

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