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Technology Foresight for Small- to Medium-sized Enterprises

  • Author / Creator
    Phillips, Joanne G.
  • Businesses, regardless of size, require the best information available to them in order to optimize their technological plans for the future. Currently, however, large, multi-national enterprises (MNEs), along with nations, are availing themselves of a set of tools that are not being used by small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These tools fall under the general description of “foresight” and the more specific term technology foresight. Technology foresight applies to all purposeful and systematic attempts to anticipate and understand the potential direction, rate, characteristics, and effects of technological change, especially invention, innovation, adoption, and use. Technology foresight is undertaken for the purpose of managing technology as a corporate resource similar to the tools used for financial management or personnel development. Many foresight methods require significant staff and monetary resources. This research, after providing a history of the concept of technology foresight, describes a majority of the foresight methods and techniques currently in use and pares them down with reference to the special resource characteristics of SMEs to identify eight methods that are determined to be sufficiently economic of time and money to be suitable for use by SMEs. These eight methods are: backcasting, bibliometrics, diffusion modeling, long wave analysis, monitoring, technological substitution, trend extrapolation, and vision generation. Two of the eight methods – bibliometrics and long wave analysis – are further explored through application to a hypothetical SME. Recognizing that eight methods represent a very small sample of the technology foresight methods that are available, a new and original technique for applying the scenarios method for SMEs is introduced and tested. The technique is called Scenario Recycling and involves the use of publicly available scenarios prepared by others for the purpose of providing inspiration and insight to SMEs. It is proposed that recycling may be a valid approach to allow SMEs to access other TFA methods. It is concluded that SMEs can benefit from technology foresight; both from existing methods and the new technique of Scenario Recycling and a simple plan is presented to illustrate how an SME can develop a foresight program. Areas requiring further research are also identified.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2013-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3GH9BJ22
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Specialization
    • Engineering Management
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Hawkins, Richard (University of Calgary)
    • Lipsett, Michael (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Kumar, Amit (Mechanical Engineering)
    • Doucette, John (Mechanical Engineering)
    • Holbrook, Adam (Simon Fraser University)
    • Heidrick, Ted (Mechanical Engineering)
    • Kresta, Suzanne (Chemical and Materials Engineering)