EC-Project on "Integrative Technology Assessment"

Ergebnisse von TA-Projekten – Neue TA-Projekte

EC-Project on "Integrative Technology Assessment"

by Robert Berloznik, VITO

Work has recently started on a project analysing existing methods of so-called "Integrative Technology Assessment" (ITA) in order to identify successfully applied approaches for testing on a number of selected R&D projects being supported by the European Commission. The goal is to assemble a kind of "tool kit" for use by managers and project personnel in R&D projects. The principal contractor is the Technology Assessment group at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) Mol, led by Robert Berloznik, with Karlsruhe Research Centre's Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), and SMIT, Studies on Media Information and Telecommunication of the Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium participating in a capacity as sub-contractors.

The project will consist of 3 phases: Phase 1 will consist of the initiation and a survey. During this, a reference document will be written on TA practices in relation with RTD management. Besides a description of the general frame of reference concerning TA in general and its relation to ITA, this document will focus in particular on the issues of the practical realization of ITA and the problems related to acceptance and the perception of such practices in RTD management.

Through database, internet and literature search, a comprehensive and world-wide survey of practical experiences with Integrated Technology Assessment will be conducted. This will form the basis for an in-depth analysis of methods and approaches to evaluate the quality and success of the methods used. This will enable the selection, in close collaboration with Commission services, of up to five successful methodological approaches in test projects. For this purpose a set of qualitative and quantitative criteria will be developed. Quantitative criteria will include topics such as geographical distribution, size of the project, distance from the market (e.g. pre-competitive, applied, engineering), etc. Qualitative criteria will include among others, research objectives, target groups (e.g. industry, government). Next to these general RTD related criteria, specific TA related criteria, such as user involvement, use of specific TA methods will be developed. An additional problem that will be addressed in developing the selection criteria is the determination of criteria of what is to be considered as a "success". This set of criteria will enable the Commission services to select up to twenty projects under the Fourth Framework Programme for testing.

Phase II will consist of practical application and testing. A tool for content analysis will be developed in order to classify all relevant information from the dossiers on the projects selected. This analytical framework will be used in the analysis of the project dossiers and will also serve as interview guidelines for the five selected test projects.

To prepare the field research, a simulation tool will be developed, to be applied preferably to ongoing projects. This will take the form of an interactive role game, developed by VITO and STAM (The Science and Technology Assessment and Management Unit of the Free University Brussels) that simulates the internal communication and external interaction related to a TA process.

Both tools will focus primarily on the methodological issues raised in the respective projects.

The twenty project dossiers made available by Commission services will first be analysed with the help of the analytical tool. This will enable the contractor to conduct a synoptical screening on success factors and critical features of the studied ITA processes. For each selected project a report will be produced, in addition to reports on relevant and successful methods used.

Five test cases on (ongoing) projects will be selected for in-depth analysis by means of structured interviewing and running simulations of ITA. For practical reasons, these activities will be linked up directly with the ongoing project activities of the respective selected case studies. This means that project/consortium meetings will be used as opportunities to do interviews and run simulations. In this way the contractor will be able to perform field tests of feasible ITA approaches, which might mean discussing alternative approaches for the same project or at least discussing alternatives for various phases or aspects of TA integration in RTD. 

Each case study will result in a test report focusing on critical features of ITA and related methods and approaches. These test reports will also include recommendations on how to apply ITA for ex ante orientation of projects and programmes, monitoring, as an on-going evaluation instrument and if existing methods are shown to have shortcomings, recommendations on the need for further development of methods will be formulated.

The third, and final phase, is the presentation and refinement of results. The draft final report will be a comprehensive synthesis of all tasks performed in this project. It will contain specific recommendations for a practicable ITA approach for the Community RTD Framework Programme. This will be discussed with selected experts at a workshop. Comments, remarks and other results that come out of this will be taken in consideration in writing the Final Report.

For further information, please contact

Robert Berloznik
Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO)
Boeretang 200
B-2400 Mol, Belgium
Tel.: + 32 14 33 59 34
Fax: + 32 14 32 11 85
E-mail: berloznrKbs2∂vito be