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Strategic dialogues for research policy making in Germany

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Abstract

Purpose – The mere generation of foresight results is not sufficient in itself to influence research policy. Research policy makers need specific information and insight on how the structured view of the future provided by foresight affects their strategic planning. Therefore, deriving the maximum benefit from foresight activities requires a carefully designed and actively driven transfer process of foresight results into research policy making. This paper aims to present such a process (“strategic dialogue”) and illustrate it with recent examples from Germany. Design/methodology/approach – The authors compare strategic dialogues with existing dialogue instruments and investigate the relevance of their theoretical foundations to transferring foresight results into research policy making. They capture the lessons learnt from such dialogues in a seven‐step process that can be adapted to specific situations. Specific success factors are identified and linked to the process. Findings – Strategic dialogues have proved to be an effective and efficient instrument for achieving the transfer of results from strategic processes such as foresight into research policy making. They ensure that foresight results are processed into a form that is directly useful as an input for policy development. They also help to create a joint vision for the future and to shape supporting infrastructure measures. Originality/value – The transfer of foresight results into research policy making has not featured prominently so far in discussions of foresight efforts and methods. However, it is a crucial element in ensuring that such activities have maximum impact.

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