Escaping Path Dependence - Essays on Foresight and Environmental Management

Totti Könnölä

Research output: Book/ReportReport


The dissertation examines linkages between foresight, innovation and environmental management and policy to escape undesirable path dependencies at the different levels of innovation systems, especially with the means of foresight. The dissertation is characterized as action research that applies literature reviews, semi-structured interviews, direct observations, Internet-based group support systems, decision analysis, trend analysis and computer assisted workshops within case studies and empirically grounded theory-building. The dissertation consists of six articles and the summary. The first article deals with responsiveness in the management of foresight activities. The second article studies possible ways to escape techno-institutional path dependencies by combining methods used in foresight activities and drafting environmental voluntary agreements. The third article applies this approach to the analysis of a hydrogen energy foresight. The fourth article examines how environmental management systems may strengthen path dependencies. The fifth article develops and applies a new foresight method RPM Screening, which is also applied in the sixth article in connection with a European coordination tool. The implications of the mechanisms of path dependence on foresight objectives are identified as follows: (i) improved systems understanding calls for attention to continuous and discontinuous changes, which can be facilitated by diversity considerations, (ii) enhanced networking requires not only strengthening existing networks but also restructuring or even destruction of possible lock-in conditions by a redefinition of stakeholder roles and (iii) strengthened innovation activities necessitate fostering prospective innovation ideas, rivaling coalitions and the development of new technological and institutional arrangements. The results of this dissertation suggest extending the locus of foresight processes closer to decision-making and conducting them in connection with other coordination-oriented policy tools to address also institutional arrangements for discontinuous systemic changes. Whereas the dissertation identifies and responds to these challenges by developing responsive and modular foresight methods, further policy experimentation is recommended to support policy learning and the collection of further evidence for the findings.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherHelsinki University of Technology
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)951-22-8209-7
ISBN (Print)951-22-8207-0
Publication statusPublished - 2006
MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

Publication series

SeriesHelsinki University of Technology: Systems Analysis Laboratory. A: Research Reports


  • foresight
  • environmental management
  • group decision-making
  • innovation policy
  • path dependence


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