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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 78, Issue 9, November 2011, Pages 1526–1541
This paper investigates the application of the Delphi methodology for the identification of future fields of standardisation complemented by a methodological extension by using various science and technology indicators. By the term standardisation, we broadly mean the process of developing and implementing technical standards within a standardisation body. Underlining the explorative nature of this paper, we describe the process of identifying future fields of standardisation. To provide a systematic forecasting view on complex science and technology fields, a combination of quantitative indicator-based analyses and qualitative in-depth Delphi surveys is choosen. Firstly, statistical analyses of suitable indicators are used to identify dynamic developments in such fields. Secondly, to identify detailed challenges for future standardisation, qualitative Delphi surveys are conducted. To collect and evaluate relevant issues the respective expert communities were included. They were identified by using information derived from the science and technology databases used. The paper concludes with the assessment of the chosen approach and give practical insights for its feasibility based on a review of the existing literature on the Delphi methodology. In addition, an outlook for further improvements and other possible fields of application is given.
Foresight activities are considered to be multi-stage processes. They are always marked by a variety of objectives. Nevertheless, there is one primary purpose for the implementation of foresight in general: The identification of future areas of science and technology in which an organisation, e.g. a country, a company or a research organisation, can achieve an international forerunner position. As Martin  puts it: The ultimate objective of foresight is to ensure that areas of science and technology that are likely to yield future socio-economic benefits are identified promptly. The identification of such future fields can only be achieved by examining the science and technology base, the institutional constitution and the economic strength of a country or of an organisation. This should be put into the context of general technological developments. In other words, a country's or a company's ability to produce and commercialise a flow of new technologies over a longer period of time  is essential for their economic development. The potential to innovate, as well as other important determinants of the innovation process are summarised in the national innovation system (see for example ). It also includes the capabilities or the economic competence of the actors of the system to generate, diffuse and commercialise technologies . Here standardisation can enhance these capabilities. By the term standardisation, we broadly mean the process of developing and implementing technical standards. By including all interested stakeholders, the standardisation process aims ad avoiding technical application obstacles by unifying and standardising. More precisely, a published de-jure standard specifies fixed rules, guidelines or characteristics for tasks and their results. It is a universally accepted and generally applicable rule. Standards are created by a consensual process and are approved by a recognized institution, such as a national standard body (NSB).2 However, they have the form of recommendations, unless their compliance is obligatory under national or international laws or regulations. By promoting the diffusion of technological knowledge by creating and using de-jure standards and technical guidelines, standards are considered to be necessary for the economic development of a technology. Despite its economic importance, there is a lack of references on scientific findings in the day-to-day business of standardisation committees. This is the result of frictions between current scientific research and the roadmap of future standardisation processes. This problem in mind, we developed a supplementary indicator-Delphi approach for conducting systematic foresight studies for the identification of future fields of standardisation. This approach is also applicable to other foresight application areas. The approach supplements the classical Delphi approach with statistical analyses of indicators, which provides a sound overview of complex science and technology fields. The indicator approach is used to identify future dynamic fields in science and technology as well as possible panel experts for subsequent Delphi surveys. Based on the results of this first analysis, in-depth online Delphi surveys with consecutive rounds will be carried out, both qualitative and quantitative. Using the implicit knowledge of participants, the methodology reveals conflicting as well as consensus areas  for these fields. This article focuses on three different objectives. (1) Investigates a possible extension of the Delphi technique using a combination of quantitative indicator-based analyses and qualitative in-depth Delphi surveys. To introduce the method, the set of indicators and some possibilities for the statistical and bibliometric analysis are specified. In addition, specific methodological characteristics are elaborated. (2) By applying this approach to standardisation foresight, a novel practical application area for the Delphi methodology is introduced. This paoer especially focus on the exploratory study of the application area. In particular, the characteristics of the stakeholders of standardisation processes are described. (3) Finally, the applicability of the method will be evaluated. For this purpose, it will be dicussed whether the indicator approach is a useful addition, especially for the identification of key experts for Delphi surveys and weather it can be used in other application areas. The remainder of this article is structured as follows. Section 2 gives practical preliminary considerations for standardisation foresight. Section 3 provides theoretical background on science and technology indicators, the Delphi technique, and the role of standardisation in the R&D process. In Section 4 will give a more general description of the method. It is followed by a comparative analysis of conducted case studies. In addition, modifications made to the approach, addressing some practical issues will be described. The paper concludes with some methodical considerations as well as practical insights for its feasibility. Recommendations and limitations of the approach, as well as its use in other application areas are discussed.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this paper, a possible effective, methodological supplement for classical Delphi approaches to involve more and a larger variety of experts have been introduced. The combination of acknowledged quantitative indicator-based analyses with qualitative in-depth Delphi surveys provides systematic forecasts on future fields of science and technology developments. As all Delphi surveys, the introduced supplementary approach also depends on reliable expert evaluations in order to identify relevant issues. Thus, it depends on the appropriate identification of experts. Nowadays, the landscape of actors and institutions in science and technology becomes more and more intransparent due to new actors form emerging countries entering the scene. In addition, especially radical developments in science and technology emerge at the interfaces of different science disciplines and in converging technologies. Consequently, the challenge of identifying the “right” experts is increasing. Here, the analysis of bibliographic information facilitates the identification of all necessary actors and stakeholders. This requires an issue-oriented set of indicators as well as accurate preliminary investigations of appropriate stakeholders. Hence, Delphi experts should be selected from all domains relevant for the future of the specific issues. The method is generally suitable for all foresight applications aiming to analyse technology developments. Nevertheless, a simple transfer of the methodological approach on other application areas is not enough. The implementation will require some adjustments to the indicator set to ensure adequate foresight results. Preceding qualitative survey rounds also offers the possibility to collect topics from the corresponding expert community, i.e. references on recent scientific findings. Moreover, the aggregation of these specific topics requires some additional effort. In addition, the introduced approach is suitable for identifying respondents with the necessary expertise. Depending on the subject area and the specific topic, an average of 14 to 48% of experts with high expertise could be identified. There are also a number of issues for which none of the identified stakeholders possessed technical expertise, even if these issues were a result of the qualitative survey round. This indicates that in these areas only few experts are obviously active. In new and emerging fields, sufficient experts might not be available to provide their technical knowledge. The more specific the foresight issue, the smaller the circle of available experts. On this, alternative methods may help to identify suitable experts with desired attributes. Here methods like the so-called snowball approach were used. Starting from a small number of individual experts, other experts can be identified with the help of new contacts. This approach, however, requires considerable time and research efforts. Therefore, in some cases it may be suitable to narrow the possible alternatives down. This is especially true when desired attributes are very rare. In such cases, approaches exist to improve the snowball systems, i.e. reduce the screening costs. For example, there is the approach of von Hippel et al. . This approach is also a kind of snowball system in which only experts with higher expertise were recommended. It seems suitable for identifying the most renowned experts of a subject area. In addition, software programs offer easy ways for bibliometric analysis to complement such simple screenings as presented. Especially network analyses provide similar scopes of application. A closer look on the indicator set shows there are more indicators on the technology push side. Even though it is much more difficult to select stakeholders from the user and even the consumer side, there is a need to extend the methodology towards these indicators. The same is true for representatives of public organisations and regulatory bodies. Also simple quantitative approaches, as described in this approach, are not sufficient to characterise the developments of specific technologies in subject areas. Here, the indicator data includes more information on the state of the art in science and technology as well as additional micro-data. This provides further information about content relevant developments. This information, collected systematically, might also help to identify potential new fields of science and technology. To study the general technology development and to identify important research communities, other methods and tools, like text mining for the analysis of word frequencies and co-occurrences for the evaluation of content proximity, as well as citation analyses may be helpful. In preliminary analyses, only few and unsystematic foresight experiences regarding future priorities for regulations and standards could be identified . Although the Delphi technique has many similarities to the standardisation process, there is a lack of relevant applications in this field so far. Even if the application of the Delphi method provided some practical issues, the rarely used Delphi technique in combination with an indicator-based approach proved suitable not only for this novel application area. As already explained, experts change their opinion less frequently than non-experts. For the general evaluation of the applicability of the Delphi method for standardisation foresight, he approach therefore relies on the hypothesis that panel members with high expertise give more correct first assessments compared to non-experts (see ). Despite the practical issues, e.g. low response rates, this assumption speaks for the applicability of the method. From a methodological point of view, the Delphi technique improves estimation accuracy and the level of consensus, as long as the method is appropriately applied. For the application of the Delphi approach, practical considerations should be considered, too. It should be noted that the Delphi method does not provide per se a consensus. This is particularly true with issues of high uncertainty. Divergence shows crucial conflicting areas, indications for an increased need for discussion or technical problems. In cases where the level of detail is very high, connections and similarities between individual respondents might only be comprehensible by very few experts. Thus, the chosen approach allows the identification of very specific future standardisation issues. The major aim of this investigation was not to predict the accurate time of occurrences, but to identify priorities to start standardisation in specific topics. The implementation problems are caused by the topic of standardization itself. As in normal standardisation processes, surveys focusing on standardisation, meet similar barriers for the participation. Here, especially the lack of knowledge, time as well as transparency in the structure and the development of standard procedures, are decisive reasons for not participating . Therefore, the goal of this investigation was to raise the awareness of the relevance of standardisation among relevant stakeholders. Furthermore, in contrast to the classical Delphi approach with a long-term perspective of up to 25 years or longer, the standardisation foresight focuses on shorter periods. The time period mainly depends on activities that should be planned in the next 10 years.