Futures Research

Futures Research Futures research can be defined as a systematic study of possible future events and circumstances. Remeyni and Money (2004, p.76) differentiate futures research from forecasting in a way that the former has a forward orientation and looks ahead, rather that backwards, and is not as mathematical as forecasting.

Disadvantages of futures research are straightforward – no event or situation can be forecasted in an accurate and complete manner. Nevertheless, futures studies may offer a substantial advantage. Specifically, although futures studies are not able to produce totally accurate and complete information about the future, some researched information about the future is better than no information at all when engaging in decision making for long-term perspective.

There is wide range of techniques available that can be used to conduct futures studies. The following table illustrates types and techniques of the most popular futures techniques.

Method Quantitative Qualitative Normative Exploratory
Agent Modeling

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Complexity based models

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Cross Impact Analysis

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Decision Models

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Delphi

 

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Econometrics

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Environmental Scanning

 

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Futures Wheel

 

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Genius Forecasting

 

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Morphological Analysis

 

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Participatory Methods

 

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Regression

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Relevance Trees

 

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Scenarios

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Science Road Maps

 

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System Dynamics

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Tech Sequence Analysis

 

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Time Series Forecasts

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Trend Impact Analysis

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Source: Millenium Project

 The nature of decision-making using the results of futures studies can be approached from four alternative perspectives:

1. Values perspective categorises forecasted outcome of events and occurrences as good or bad.  Accordingly, value perspective tends to be highly subjective due to value differences of amongst individuals.

2. Rational perspective relates to selection of an alternative amongst decision options guided by the extent to which each alternative meets certain criteria.

3. Judgement heuristics is associated with tendency towards risk taking and relying on intuition when engaging in decision making.

4. Cognitive science perspective to decision making relies on inductive process of thought and taking decisions as a result of inductive analysis by individuals, as well as, related computer programs.

 

References

Remenyi, D, Money, A, 2004, Research Supervision for Supervisors and their Students, Academic Conferences Ltd