The Relevance, Types and Practices of Foresight in Decision-Making

Attila Havas, Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Foresight has evolved as a distinct prospective analytical tool: it considers alternative futures of various S&T fields or socio-economic systems (sectors, local, regional or national economies, etc.) by bringing together the representatives of various stakeholder groups, and thus assists the decision-making processes at different levels. The increasing number of foresight programmes suggests that it can be a useful decision-preparatory tool in rather different innovation systems. In order to avoid the emerging of “hype –disappointment cycles”, the potential contributions to decision-making processes by foresight should be clearly understood.

To assist this better understanding, first the theoretical underpinnings of this type of prospective analysis is summarised briefly. Then the rationale of conducting foresight is presented: what policy challenges can be tackled by applying foresight? It is followed by a discussion of a new typology of foresight programmes, distinguishing the ones with an S&T, techno-economic or societal/ socio-economic focus. Then the paper puts foresight into the above broader context of decision–making processes: it describes the evolution of different policy rationales, develops a framework to classify the impacts of various types of prospective analyses, and reviews the evaluation results of several national foresight programmes by using this framework. The concluding section summarises the major lessons, but also presents some policy and methodological dilemmas.

About the speaker
Attila Havas (MA 1983, PhD 1997) is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (e-mail: His academic interests are in economics of innovation, theory and practice of innovation policy, and technology foresight. In 1997-2000 he was Programme Director of TEP, the Hungarian Technology Foresight Programme. He has participated in a number of interantional research projects on STI policies, innovation and transition, as well as on foresight and prospective analyses, been a member of several EU expert groups on foresight, and given invited lectures at international conferences and workshops. He has advised national governments and international organisations on the above issues.

Venue: Conference room 4th floor, Keizer Karelplein 19

Date: 14 April 2008

Time: 16:00 - 17:00  CET