Elements in the construction of future-orientation: a systems view to foresight

Mikko Dufva, Toni Ahlqvist

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference articleScientific


    Foresight is currently perceived as a critical activity in the development of innovation policies and corporate strategies. While there are many descriptions of the benefits of foresight, there is little research on how these benefits are created. In addition, although the view about innovations has shifted towards a systems understanding, the same has not happened in foresight, which is largely seen as a process. The process view and focus on the outcomes has created a situation where the dynamics between agents involved in foresight is still not well understood. One emerging approach to improve the understanding of the dynamics of foresight, and to embed foresight more closely with innovation management and policy, is the systems view. In this paper, we build on the systems view of foresight, and study what are the elements in foresight as a system and how they contribute to the creation of futures knowledge. Based on literature we propose six elements that are useful for understanding a foresight system: agents, cognitive schemes, strategic objects, scaffolding structures, memory objects and embodied metaphors. We illustrate the elements and their interaction with a case example focused on creating future-orientation in a research and technology organisation. Based on the elements and the case study we argue that the strategic objects and scaffolding structures are important leverage points when steering the foresight as a system.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    Event5th International Conference on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis: Engage today to shape tomorrow: FTA 2014 - Brussels, Belgium
    Duration: 27 Nov 201428 Nov 2014


    Conference5th International Conference on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis
    Abbreviated titleFTA 2014


    • foresight system
    • complex adaptive systems
    • innovation systems
    • future-orientation


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