Facilitating policy implementation

Online Foresight Guide

Besides supplying specific information as a support to policy design, Foresight attempts, to some extent, to transform the field made up of the diverse actors and organisations concerned with the issues at stake. The Foresight process is seen as enhancing the capacity of the system under consideration (e.g. a territory, an industrial sector, a national research and innovation system) to change in step with the specific policy. As, from the policy-maker's perspective, the main benefit of such an effect of Foresight is that there are better prospects of a smooth implementation of policies due to a better responsiveness of actors in the field, we have termed this function “facilitating policy implementation”.

The Foresight process fulfils this function in various ways: Foresight is reckoned to be effective in creating linkages, interfaces, knowledge flows and networks between people or entities that may not have other opportunities to meet and exchange views and may have opposing interests. Furthermore, it is expected that through the collective reasoning about the future, different interest groups can develop a shared understanding of the current situation, the issues at stake and the future challenges. Indeed they may even share visions on desirable futures. The participants in the Foresight process will develop more “future-oriented” attitudes, will make better informed choices and will be ready to better accept and encourage changes in the right direction.

As a consequence of the increasing complexity of the systems involved, the traditional linear model of policy-making as a process incorporating successive phases such as conceptualisation, implementation, evaluation and then modification to start a new cycle, is no longer adequate. Policy and strategy development are increasingly being interpreted as a continuous reflexive learning process.