Identifying emerging generic technologies at the national level: The UK experience

Michael Keenan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A main reason for the popularity of national technology foresight exercises over the last decade has been their promise of allowing emerging generic technology areas to be identified and prioritized for resource-allocation purposes. Yet descriptions of the conduct of such exercises tend to be superficial, providing few clues to those wanting to undertake similar exercises. Taking the UK Technology Foresight Programme as an example, this paper sets out to describe the processes used to obtain a list of prioritized generic 'themes'. We show that several difficult choices have to be made, often requiring an assessment of opposing and synergistic tendencies. In the case of the UK Programme, a number of decisions seemed to be taken without adequate regard to some of the consequences. This resulted in the identification of generic themes that were, for the most part, subsequently ignored. This paper sets out to explain how this state of affairs came about, and points to possible lessons for those intending to embark upon similar exercises. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-160
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Forecasting
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003


  • Prioritization
  • Science and technology policy
  • Selectivity
  • Technology foresight


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