Emergence of shared perceptions of futures in a foresight system

Mikko Dufva, L. Ilmola-Sheppard, Toni Ahlqvist

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference articleScientific


    Foresight is an approach for anticipating future developments in a given topic area. Foresight both explores alternative futures and facilitates discussion on the preferable futures, often aiming to generate shared future perceptions. The shared perception emerges from the interaction between the agents. However, the dynamics through which this shared perception arises has gained little attention in the foresight literature. In this report we study the emergence of shared perceptions in what we call a foresight system. we define the notion of foresight system based on literature on foresight, complex adaptive systems and social constructionism. In this study the foresight system is studied as a subsystem embedded in a wider innovation system. For scrutinizing the construction of shared perceptions, we made an empirical analysis of the written documents generated during the production of the Finnish Government's Report on the Future. Through qualitative analysis guided by text-mining we tracked the conceptual changes documented in the different phases of this process. The concept of growth was the key analytical target. The results show that foresight system does not function as foresight literature commonly anticipates; instead of producing radically new concepts, the foresight project changed the contents of the concepts. In the analyzed material, the concept of growth firstly changed from economic growth to sustainable growth, and, secondly, economic growth was reframed as sustainable growth by decoupling it from material growth. The results imply that intensive interaction during the foresight process supports the reframing. The systems view contributes to the theory and practice of foresight by providing a frame for understanding the interactions between agents involved in a foresight system.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages15
    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
    • foresight process
    • shared perceptions
    • sensemaking
    • complex adaptive systems


    Dive into the research topics of 'Emergence of shared perceptions of futures in a foresight system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this