A Policy Sciences View of Future Studies

Alternative Futures and Present Action

by Yehezkel Dror


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A discussion of the requirements for policy-oriented future studies — saliency, credibility, transformability into policymaking inputs, and desirability by the policymaking system. To be salient, future studies should relate alternative futures to present decisions, deal with matters of actual or potential concern, recognize possible future developments, examine critical issues even if unlinked to the present, explore alternative future values, and develop alternative comprehensive futures covering all social institutions. To be credible they must be of high quality. In order that they be communicable to policymakers, the methodology should be adjusted to policymaking needs, formats for concise presentation of findings should be developed, and future political feasibility should be explored. Changes in the policymaking system to make the studies desired and used and alternative futures of the system identifying relevant future-shaping variables should be explored. Attention should be paid to the limitations of even good studies and to the interface of the studies with policymaking.

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