Functions of Foresight for policy-making

Online Foresight Guide

In the case of Foresight specifically addressing policy-making, the general objectives described precedently can be declined in six specific functions:

In other words :



Benefit for policy

Innovation policy

Informing policy


Understanding of change

Visions of change


Long term orientation

Additional source for information (based on a broad variety of views)

Awareness of future challenges

Reservoir of options

Facilitating policy implementation

Networks, shared visions

Better receptivity of actors for policy objectives due to ownership of results therefore easier implementation

Better connectivity

Better ability to react to change/to innovate




Embedding participation in policy-making

Transparency of policy making process

Better identification of citizens with policy (legitimacy)

Legitimacy for budget spending

Supporting policy definition

Generation of strategic options together with policy makers

Direct support in strategy development and implementation


Reconfiguring the policy system




Symbolic function




A Foresight exercise can fulfil more than one function but each function demands different methods and approaches (e.g. different levels of stakeholder participation, different forms of policy makers' involvement). It is crucial for any Foresight exercise to be clear about which of these functions it is trying to fulfil for policy.

The functions of Foresight for policy-making (and the guidelines for high-impact) are detailed in this paper accepted for publication in "Technology Analysis and Strategic Management" (Volume 20, Issue 3, May 2008):

See also:

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