Title: Emergent Foresight Processes: Industrial Activities in Wireless Communications

Authors: Jukka-Pekka Salmenkaita and Ahti Salo

Status: Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Vol. 71, No. 9, 2004, pp. 897-912.

Keywords: Technology foresight, science and technology policy, innovation studies

Technology foresight has received growing attention among those involved in the shaping and implementation of science and technology (S&T) policies. However, although evaluative analyses of foresight exercises have supplied evidence on acclaimed benefits - such as the generation of future-oriented knowledge and strengthening of collaborative networks - they also point to challenges in translating foresight results into actions within research and technology development (RTD) organizations. In this paper, we address these challenges by considering the work of the Wireless World Research Forum (WWRF) which has sought to promote the conception, development and diffusion of wireless communication technologies. Specifically, by contrasting this work with well-known government-initiated foresight exercises, we typify so-called explicit, emergent, and embedded foresight activities and explore their interrelationships. Our comparative analysis points to conditions under which policy interventions may not be needed for the emergence of foresight activities that exert a major influence on RTD agendas. It also suggests several context-dependent roles for public policy, among which government-driven foresight exercises and the catalysis of more narrowly focused activities are but two examples.