NTV – The predictable future


In 2010 the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy launched the publication Out of sight: Studying the future with policy (Uit zicht. Toekomstverkennen met beleid), presenting the practice of future research within central government. For comparison, the Dutch Foresight Network subsequently studied the practice of foresight studies in companies, local governments, and networks for transition. The empirical research mainly consisted of interviews and questionnaires.

Differences and similarities

This led to interesting differences and similarities. Central government feels partly responsible for the future because this is what society expects from government. This has consequences for government foresight studies. On the one hand, it acknowledges that the future is unpredictable, but on the other it is framed by ideas about what the future should look like. Companies have a different attitude. Companies want to have an early image of future developments in markets, society and technology, in order to timely adapt their activities. This is particularly the case in the service industry.

Flexible or not

Capital-intensive companies are less flexible. This is reflected in the way they do foresight studies, which is more oriented towards determining the markets in which they want to be active. Local government takes an in-between position. Also, local government foresights are meant as a process to create support for policy. In networks for transition, participants try to change the rules of the future game, as old rules will not lead to the desired new future.

The predictable future (De voorstelbare Toekomst) (English summary)
Edited by: Cock Hazeu, 2011
ISBN 978-90-809613-9-5