Multi-path mapping for alignment strategies in emerging science and technologies


Robinson, Douglas K.R. and Propp, Tilo (2008) Multi-path mapping for alignment strategies in emerging science and technologies. Technological forecasting and social change, 75 (4). pp. 517-538. ISSN 0040-1625

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Abstract:Roadmapping serves both short and long term (strategic) alignment in science and technology (S&T). Forecasts of the likely future development of S&T are generated; then research and development (R&D) efforts necessary to realize various goals are backcast. But for new and emerging S&T this trusted principle does not work: the likely products are not articulated yet. A promising approach however is building mapping tools based on underlying patterns and indicators of the dynamics of emergence. This paper discusses, based on a first round application in the field of micro and nanotechnologies for single cell analysis, the methodology of such a new approach. The work is linked to a programme of Future oriented Technology Assessment (FTA) activities coordinated within a European nanotechnology research network.

Our paper addresses well-known lacunae of alignment tools from the viewpoints of the path creation/dependency literatures. We then apply these insights to lab-on-a-chip devices for cell analysis. Dynamics of emerging paths can be used to articulate a future structured in terms of prospective innovation chains and potential paradigms. We demonstrate a plausible variety of paths, which provides a broader set of strategic choices. This enables management of expectations and hype by which emerging S&T are characterised, and leads to alignment of actors. Our tool can be applied in strategic management of research and R&D at the level of science-to-industry networks. These are becoming an important element in European S&T policy but will only be successful if ways are found for closing gaps in the innovation chain.
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Copyright:© 2008 Elsevier
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