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Personal attitudes in the assessment of the future of science and technology: A factor analysis approach

: Blind, K.; Cuhls, K.; Grupp, H.


Technological forecasting and social change 68 (2001), No.2, pp.131-149
ISSN: 0040-1625
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
Delphi methode; factor analysis; science; technology

In 1996, the second German Delphi study ("Delphi '98) was started. The Delphi '98 is a tworound Delphi expert survey being conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education, Research, Science and Technology (BMBF). The study was publishes in February 1998, and is now getting into its implementation phase. Its inherent focus is on the development of science and technology in 12 thematic fields in the next 30 years. To arrive at a better understanding of the influence of personal attitudes towards general developments in natural environment and society, the respondents were asked in the round of the Delphi survey for their personal opinion towards several megatrends concerning the natural environment, economic, sociological, and political developments. Over 2,300 answers led to a very solid database, which gives insights into the general attitudes of the German R&D experts. One some topics, there is a high consensus, whereas in others, opposite opinions coexist. These results may serve as the database for a factor analysis leading to the identification of five different expert types. This paper examines the crucial question of whether different patterns in assessing the future development in science and technology by expert types can be observed. In general, it turned out that differences in personal attitudes towards megatrends do not influence the estimation of developments in science and technology. However, differences exist in specific topics and the distribution of the five types among the respondents differs significantly in the 12 fields.