The 4th edition of the International Seville Conference on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis (FTA) focuses on the need and potential of FTA to address disruptive transformations in response to grand societal challenges. FTA offers policy and decision makers the potential to look across such transformations, enabling governments and other organisations to become more adaptive and capable of enacting systemic change.
Transformations can occur in the form of disruptive events (i.e. unexpected, short-term and sudden events, with immediate and ongoing impacts, for which we are usually unprepared), ongoing processes (i.e. difficult to detect processes since change is gradual, with slow diffusion and with medium to long-term impacts), or transformation by design (i.e. change processes that are planned, such as social or economic structural transformations). Drivers of dynamic processes of change and sudden disruptive transformations range from rapid technological changes to shifts in social norms, values and lifestyles. Current and future societal challenges as well as their combination emerge from such transformations and call for appropriate forms of FTA to support and enable both organisations and individuals to anticipate, adapt and respond pro-actively to change.
In this context, FTA has a potentially useful role to play in enabling a better understanding of the complex systems which interact in each situation and in defining effective policy responses, including:
Innovation is both a source of and possible key response to disruptive transformations, if broadly conceived in technological, social, organisational and institutional terms. The scale and direction of innovation is determined by a mix of factors, many national-specific though increasingly less so as economies and societies become more globalised. In this context, FTA can contribute not only to the steering of innovation systems, but also to their adjustment, adaptability and ability to shape responses to challenges and transformations.
At the same time, FTA can contribute to building absorptive capacities that allow organisations to become more adaptive and capable of anticipating and addressing continuous as well as disruptive change. This can be achieved through institutionalised and embedded FTA providing both integration and networking within and across organisations, which in turn provides insights and capabilities to shift organisations and ultimately societies towards new directions.
Appropriate FTA premises and practices are essential requirements to enable FTA to fulfil such roles. These should follow certain principles to ensure quality in both processes and outputs and be supported by appropriate combinations of quantitative and qualitative methods, which are fit for purpose and context, and which enable the building of trust through inclusiveness and transparency in processes.
Accordingly, the 2011 FTA Conference addresses the following specific themes:
The 2011 FTA Conference seeks contributions from academics, research, business, government, intermediary organisations and civil society representatives across the globe. Contributions should be in the form of posters or scientific papers which are empirically grounded, with a strong theoretical component and demonstrating critical or new methodological approaches. These should also describe potential or actual results and impacts, as well as policy options, and should address one of the three conference themes. Scientific and policy-oriented good practice sessions will be organised in parallel during the conference.
A pre-conference online survey will also be launched among experienced FTA practitioners, policy makers and other stakeholders to share ideas and explore future emerging issues. Results will be discussed during the conference.
The Conference Committee consists of the following members:
The 2011 FTA Conference is being organised following the success of the previous events in 2004, 2006 and 2008.