Futures Studies in the European Ex-socialist Countries

30 YEARS OF FUTURES STUDIES IN POLAND: Experiences and Conclusions

Andrzej Karpinski

Professional futures studies in Poland were initiated in 1969. First projects of this type were created by the institutes and committees of the Polish Academy of Sciences and at a few universities. Initially the University of Wroclaw was the leader in these studies, while currently the University of Lodz is the leader. Before 1989, the year of the breakthrough associated with Poland’s entrance on the road of market economy, some achievements in this area were accomplished also by some of the democratic opposition groups at that time, such as the group “Experience and future”.

Government agencies began the activities in this field much later. Currently the main role among them is played by the Governmental Centre for Strategic Studies.

  1. From classic prognoses to strategic studies on the future

This study is limited mainly to the presentation of the situation in futures studies conducted by the Polish Academy of Sciences. These studies began with the foundation of the Futures Studies Committee “Poland 2000” in 1969. The Committee has been working unceasingly for over 30 years now, including nowadays[^7] . However, after 1989 fundamental changes took place in the approach to these studies and the methodologies used in them.

The direction of these changes may be characterised best if one confronts them with the main world currents in these studies. For on the world scale today one may distinguish three main trends in the thinking about the future.

The first one may be called:”the current of global visions”. For it seeks the answer to the question: what will the world or the particular aspects of the economy or society look like in 10, 15, or 25 years ahead, i.e. it seeks to determine the vision of the future. This trend of studies is represented by such researchers as:Bell, Kahn, Wiener, Naisbitt , theTofflers , and many others.

Those who represent this trend use mainly the typical methods of making prognoses with a broad use of econometric methods and mathematical models. In some prognoses of this type there are also some elements of normative character, i.e. attempts at answering not only the question what will the future look like, but also what should it look like.

The second current of these studies is worst-case scenarios orwarning prognoses . Examples of this trend are the works of the Club of Rome or the subsequent reports signed by the Meadows. The methodology, similarly as in the former case, is classic, routine methods of making prognoses.

In contrast to the prognoses of the first trend, the more the projections of the warning prognosis are avoided, i.e. the more the reality favourably departs from these prognoses, the better it is.

The third current of futures studies may be called “adapting-preparative”. It was developed most extensively and consistently by the Japanese[^8] . In this trend the main function of futures studies is seen not in the answer to the question what will the future be like, but how to act in order to prepare oneself for this future in the best possible way and in its various possible options. Hence the key role in this trend is played by the works on the formulation of a long-term strategy of development, which reaches far into the future. To this end it uses mainly the methods of system analysis and a scenario approach.

In the light of the three main currents of futures studies in the world, as described above, the works conducted in this field before 1989 at the Polish Academy of Scienceswere closest to the first one. For they were dominated by the attempts to answer the question what will the future be like. This trend had a number of important achievements in Poland, concerning both the methodology and the subject matter, particularly in the area of social studies, which during that period dominated the works of the Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences. One of the important examples is Poland’s contribution in the area of prognoses concerning education and the role of Prof.Bogdan Suchodolski , who for many years has actively worked also in the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), to mention the least.

The top achievement of this period is the development of the prognosis “Polish society on the brink of the 20th century and the 21st century”[^9] in 1982. Many predictions included in that work turned out to be valid.

However, at the same time this trend experienced many failures in predicting the future, both in Poland and in the world. In particular it was not able to predict the fundamental changes in the political system of the world, following the fall of the Soviet Union. Today this is the main subject and direction of criticism of this trend. In Poland this criticism was joined by additional criticism after 1989, which was a result of reaction against central planning, dominating in the former system. This was expressed in the press in a wave of total criticism of the failures of predictions of this type. It questioned the scientific justification and the sense of prognoses of this type. As an example one may mention a number of articles published in the press of mass circulation, with self-evident titles such as, for example, in “Polityka” - “The poverty of prognoses”[^10] and subsequently - “A prognosis cut short”[^11] , or in “Rzeczpospolita” - “Under the charm of false prophets”[^12] . In the effect of this criticism the concept of futurology took up pejorative features. Today this still affects public opinion on that matter, despite the complete change of futures studies methodology, which took place after 1989.

The main change which occurred during the decade of 1990-2000was the shift from making prognosis according to the first model of the three described above, to the third one , i.e. from classic prognoses to strategic studies on the future of the new type. They answer completely different questions than the prognoses of the classic type. In the futures studies conducted by the Polish Academy of Sciences today this trend is definitely a dominating one.

The shift to the domination of strategic studies on that subject took place in a few stages.

In the first stage after the breakthrough of 1989 the activities of the Committee until 1995 were dominated by the striving to justify in general the need to think about the future, which in this period, as mentioned above, was questioned. The Futures Studies Committee devoted its main publications during this period to this subject[^13] . The work of Prof.Józef Pajestka [^14] , who became the main advocate of the need to think about the future, although in different forms than before 1989, was of particular importance here.

The second stage began in 1995 with the publishing of the first Polish comprehensive concept of a long-term strategy, encompassing the period until the year 2010[^15] . For the conditions of the time this was a pioneer work. The priority for education and human investment proposed in the strategy, was not adopted by the subsequent governments. However, the concept played an important opinion-making role. This postulate received a growing support over the following years, although it was not practically implemented until the end of the century.

Finally,the third stage began with the publishing in 2000 a more advanced new version of the long-term strategy for Poland, with its horizon extended until the year 2020[^16] . This concept is essentially more mature with regard to methodology and clearly represents the third of the trends in futures studies as distinguished before.

The specifics of this strategy as compared to the traditional prognoses is delineated by its four main features.

The first one is making the starting point a different research question than in traditional prognoses. For it answers not the question what will the future look like, but the question how to act, what to do, in order to prepare the economy and the society to various possibilities of development in the future. All observations as to how will Poland look like in 2020 are only a derivative of the answer to the mentioned above fundamental question how to act. According to this, for example, it is of greater importance to determine the manner of modernisation of a given industry with regard to its adaptation to the needs of the future than to precisely predict how much will the given industry produce in the final year of the period encompassed by the prognosis.

The second feature is placing the main emphasis of the strategy not on the year that ends the period encompassed by its horizon, i.e. in this case - the year 2020, but on the identification of roads of reaching that target year, and hence the answer to the question what to do today in order to reach a specific target level. The problems to solve, which are necessary to reach that target, are defined in a more precise manner in the case of the first decade of this period (2001-2010), while only approximately for the second decade (2010-2020). What is particularly emphasised is the definition of the way to put the development process in motion already in the beginning period of the two decades, i.e. in 2001-2005, in order to reach the targets in 2020.

The third specific feature of this strategy is expressed in adopting as the basis various scenarios of possible development of the situation, while in the prognoses of traditional type the aim was usually to determine a one-dimensional picture and shape of the future in the target year. Each of the adopted scenarios has adequate variants of the strategy.

The fourth feature is using mainly the method of system analysis. This means giving attention only to those elements of the economy, which may dynamise the whole system. Hence they are of strategic importance in the implementation of the central objective. Contrary to that, traditional prognoses tended to include the economy as a whole or its large part in the prognosis.

  1. Polish approach to some methodological problems

A broader discussion of the content of the strategy presented by the Committee exceeds the framework of this article. It would be impractical even more so, considering the fact that its English version has been published[^17] .

However it is worthwhile to turn our attention to a few original methodological solutions, which lie at its basis. They concern mainly seven matters, namely: 1) diagnosis of the starting point, 2) scenarios and the ways of determining variants, 3) manners of formulating priorities, 4) key role given to the changes in the macro-structure of the economy, 5) manner of checking the degree to which the adopted premises are feasible, 6) manner of determining the investment priorities, and 7) implementation calendar. These matters are presented below.

  1. One of the most difficult methodological problems in futures studies is to maintain the right proportions between the work devoted to the diagnosis of the existing state, and the work concerning the problems of the future. It is obvious that the diagnosis of the starting point must determine both the strategy goals and the manner of its implementation. However, an excessive concentration of attention on this diagnosis may weaken the attention devoted to the future. For it is easier to evaluate the existing state than to solve the problems of the future. Such tendencies of escaping into diagnosis occurred also in the Polish practice in the past. In order to avoid this danger and to direct as much of the analytical efforts as possible to the future, in the Polish practice a decision was made to separate the work on diagnosis into a distinct phase. Hence the results of this phase are not directly included in the synthesis of this strategy.

  2. In turn, in the diagnosis of the conditions of future development, an original manner of classification of the particular predictions was used, which distinguishes four groups of predictions. From that point of view, there are predictions, which may be considered to be: a) certain, b) probable to the degree that they should be taken into account, c) possible, but not yet needed to include in the strategy, d) so difficult to recognise that they must be considered to be unknown. Of course such division of the evaluation of predictions does not replace the normally used SWOT method, i.e. the evaluation of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, but it supplements it. Both external and internal factors are subject to such classification.

In the recognition of conditions of the future much attention is devoted to the recognition of the consequences of demographic processes and the repayment of foreign debt. In turn, in the evaluation of the investment possibilities much attention is devoted to the recognition of the degree of economy’s involvement in investments already begun and the evaluation of expenditure necessary for their completion. For only after taking that into account one may define the area of freedom of choice in investment and of the undertaking of new investments.

  1. In the Polish practice the choice of the central goal is not the subject of variants, but the variants concern the conditions and the ways of reaching that goal. In the current strategy two scenarios of the development of situation were adopted, which have two corresponding implementation variants, specified precisely in numbers resulting from macroeconomic calculations for the period 2001-2020.

Variant I assumes less favourable external conditions and lesser possibilities of entering more radical structural changes.Variant II is adapted to more advantageous external conditions and greater chances for accomplishing deeper structural changes. As a result, variant I assumes the growth rate of the total production at close to 4.5%, while variant II - at about 6% annually.

  1. The choice of main priorities plays a key role in futures studies striving to define the strategy for action. These priorities result from the adopted central aim and the partial goals resulting from the imperative goal. Priorities determine the hierarchy of importance of the specific tasks and the order of implementation of the particular actions. In the strategy for Poland, discussed here, three main directions for action in the initial period, necessary to dynamise the economy, were considered to be the following: educational offensive, breakthrough in residential construction, and increased spending on science and research.

From this point of view, the concentration of the intensification of financial effort, necessary to reach these goals, in three subsequent waves of one-year periods between 2001-2003, is characteristic. This should give the economy strong stimuli for development. It reminds the solutions used during the post-war Germany in the form of the so-called “Bildungswelle, Wohnungswelle, Autobahnwelle”.

An integral element of a thus understood strategy is also the identification of the preferential area of the state’s economic policy, i.e. fields, which - in the authors’ opinion - require particular promotion and support by the state during this period both in industry as well in science.

In those fields state should facilitate fast development with support and aid to the extent approved by the EU legislation. This is information, which is important to foreign investors. It allows maintaining a conscious innovative policy through the association and co-ordination of industrial policy based on structural preferences with the policy of development of science and technical progress.

When determining the priorities, equal attention was given to the avoidance of the danger of an excessive diffusion of these priorities into too many goals and a too large area of economy, because then they lose their sense and effectiveness. That is why, to follow the world literature, the authors warned for the area encompassed by the priorities not to exceed 10% of the economy as a whole.

  1. In Polish practice much attention is focused on the changes in the structure of economy and society. The acceleration of these changes is considered to be an important factor for the dynamisation of the development of the economy. Hence much attention was devoted to the identification of those fields, which are able to accomplish that. This is the purpose for the identification of those branches of economy, which in the predictable future are characterised by a strong tendency for development. In the discussed strategy, on the basis of world prognoses, five branches of economy were selected. These branches - due to the high dynamics of demand for their products and services observed in them - may play a fundamental role in the dynamisation of the economy, mainly in the period at least until 2010, but also later. They include: 1) business services, 2) high technology industries, particularly those associated with information technology (IT) and biotechnology, 3) production and services associated with use of the leisure time, which will be increasing in a recognisable way along with the automatisation and robotisation of production, 4) products and services associated with health care and the prolonged active period of human life, which is a particularly current issue due to the ageing of the population, 5) natural environment protection and its shaping. The support of the process of moving economy resources from declining branches and of decreasing importance to those five areas may significantly contribute to the dynamisation of development of the economy. It is estimated that creating conditions for transferring by the year 2010 from 0.8 to 1 million people presently working in non-developmental industries to those five areas may accelerate the annual growth rate of the economy after 2010 by 1-1.5 points. This is also why much attention was devoted to the delimitation of boundaries of two sectors which compose the dual character of economy in Poland, namely the sector representing advanced technologies and the traditional sector. The first one includes: high technology industries, firms with foreign capital participation, enterprises with strong export orientation, in which exports constitute at least 30% of production, telecommunications, science, and universities. Particular attention in the presented strategy is focused on that sector.

  2. When making investment choices, in the Polish practice there are areas or complexes, which are considered to be constant priorities and are distinguished from those, which are considered to be changeable priorities of economic policy. The former include those investments, which are necessary regardless of the GDP variant, since they determine the functioning or the safety of the society. They include comprehensive investments in the following areas: food and agriculture, health care, environment protection, transportation infrastructure, power safety and state defence. The second group includes those areas of investments, which are the result of choice and may change considerably depending on the assumed strategic priorities.

Among the latter, the first places include the need to undertake significant investments for the development of information technologies sector. It has been estimated that in this field the necessary growth of investment will be the greatest, because from 7 to 10 times between 2000 and 2020, at the expected growth of the investment as a whole at 3-4 times. The investment expenditure on that purpose should increase from 7% of total investments in 2000 to 15% in 2020. During the entire two-decade period they are estimated to be above $180-200 billion, which will constitute their largest position. This is a kind of an investment price for the country’s entrance to the era of information society.

  1. In the Polish practice when formulating a long-term strategy much attention is devoted to the macro-economic equilibrium. For this determines the feasibility of the adopted strategy. Particular attention from this point of view is paid to five areas, in which the disruptions of macroeconomic balance occur the most often. They include price level, unemployment level, budget deficit, trade deficit, and the payment deficit of foreign trade. With regard to each of those areas a border level is determined, the exceeding of which should result in state intervention.

From the point of view of the feasibility of the adopted strategy it is also important to assume that each solution or action proposed in it, which requires spending from the state budget or the system of public finances, must be balanced in its total amount with regard to the expected GDP and the budget. This constitutes a certain test, which allows eliminating those proposals, which may turn out unattainable.

  1. An important methodological element of the discussed strategy is the identification of diverse priorities in the subsequent phases of its implementation, appropriate to the changes of conditions. Such distribution of these priorities over time results in a certain calendar of implementation, which determines the order of solving the particular problems over time. At the same time it makes the adopted long-term economic policy more apparent. In a particular specific case in Poland until 2005 the main priority is to be the initiation of activities dynamising economic growth, which is necessary for the prevention of unemployment growth. In the years 2006-2008 the main priority will be the repayment of the foreign debt, which at that time will reach its peak amount, while in the years 2009-2015 - the main wave of infrastructure investments should take place and a deep modernisation of the economic structure should be intensified. In a turn in the years 2016-2020 the main goal should be a stimulation of an accelerated movement of population from rural areas to the cities. This may remind of a timetable divided into phases and deadlines.

  2. Scale of risks and threats to the adopted long-term strategy

In the work on a long-term strategy the assessment of risk and threats, which may take place during its implementation, is always a difficult and very important problem. This is particularly true in the case of threats, which result from the conditions of the global environment and the situation of the world market. The first to mention here would be the risk of a global crisis, which could undermine the conditions for development of the modern world for a longer time. In the Polish practice it has been considered impractical to develop a separate scenario, which assumes such a crisis, although such possibility is today believed to be more real than 10 or 20 years ago[^18] . The main argument in this case is that fighting such a crisis requires completely different means that those, which are used to promote the development processes, and therefore this would require a completely different study.

When it comes to internal threats, both social and economic ones, the Polish practice considers the development of a separate worst case scenario, and not a separate variant of the present strategy assuming such threats, to be the best solution. The purpose of such a warning prognosis is the answer to the question what dangers might occur with regard to the specific and already adopted strategy, which is more useful in practice. It has also been decided that the concept of a long-term strategy and the warning prognosis adapted to it should both be examined together and treated as two elements on one entity. Such a warning prognosis is the subject of the Committee’s work in 2001.

The preliminary phase of discussion on the proposed strategy indicates that the threats to the strategy may take place mainly in the social area or within the specific economic processes, but to a lesser degree will concern external factors (if the global crisis does not take place). Among the social dangers three issues are the source of the greatest anxiety.

The first one is the ability of the existing institutions to undertake tasks, which actually require deep innovative activities. Bad work of many sections of state administration, weakened too much during the past decade, may not be up to the quality requirements of the presented strategy. This may become the greatest threat to the implementation of this strategy. At the same time, the implementation of the presented strategy requires deep changes in functions, competencies, and the organisational structure of state agencies. From this point of view the need to determine the position of the Ministry of Finances, different from the present one, becomes important. Until now, the work of this ministry was completely dominated by short-term criteria, which resulted from the cycle of planning yearly state budgets. Without changing the position of this ministry and extending the horizon for the shaping of the state’s finances, a long-term strategy would have small chances for implementation.

The second threat is the uncertainty whether the decisions to be made by the state, the extent of which was seriously limited through privatisation and the operations of foreign corporations, will suffice to start the development process. For a large number of decisions was overtaken by the foreign capital and moved abroad. Of course, in this situation the implementation of the presented strategy would be impossible without cooperation with the foreign decision-making centres.

The third social threat results from the very critical assessment of the current innovative and initiative ability of the some part of the society. Sudden changes in modern technologies and radical processes of system transformation, too abrupt for the endurance of a single generation, result in the fact that among some parts of the society there occurs a phenomenon of psychological passivity and an aversion or even inability to undertake more active tasks. This may become a great threat if no means are taken on to change the situation in this area and to stimulate the initiative and innovative positions of the society.

Among economic threats, the most crucial with regard to results could be the inability to increase the domestic savings, without which it would be difficult to undertake the investments necessary for the future, without the danger of disrupting the balance of payments or even a monetary crisis.

  1. Government long-term strategies - similarities and differences

As stated in the beginning of this article, the concept of strategy presented by the Polish Academy of Sciences is the expression of the opinions of the scientific community represented by the Polish Academy of Sciences Committee. However, it does not have any executive power, which may be activated through constitutional rights of the government and the parliament.

That is why, from this point of view, it is necessary to present the similarities and the differences between the suggested strategy of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the government concept of a long-term strategy[^19] . The first elaborate government’s document on this subject was published in May 2000, hence relatively late. Indirectly this indicates that in the past the interest in such a strategy was not great. This results partially from the fact that under the conditions of the 4-year parliamentary life cycle the main interests move onto short-term problems, for which the particular parties are politically responsible. This is not a good situation and it does not contribute to make the horizon of economic decisions longer.

The main differences between the strategy postulated by the scientific community and the strategy of the government might be expressed in 3 points. First, the strategy developed by the government is closer to the first current in futures studies, described in the beginning, which is purely prognostic. It even contains some normative elements, i.e. it attempts to answer not only to the question how Poland in 2025 will look like, but even how it should look like.

Secondly, the character closer to prognosis results in the fact that the government strategy does not distinguish most important priorities and does not attempt their quantification, i.e. quantitative or qualitative account. At the same time the government strategy is not delineating the area of preference in the country’s economy as the proposal of the Polish Academy of Sciences does.

Thirdly, the assumptions of the government strategy aim at encompassing a much larger area, much closer to the area of the economy as a whole, while the strategy of the Polish Academy of Sciences concerns only selected problems and the areas associated with them, which may dynamise the economy. This is most visible in the case of devoted much greater attention to the situation in the fields of declining importance which cause difficult social problems, disappearing or sensitive to foreign competition, than to the promotion of development industries, to which the future belongs. It would be a result of the fact, that fields, which in the world literature are considered to be declining, constitute a much larger share of the total economy in Poland than it is the case in developed countries.

By and large the strategy of the government and the proposals of the scientific community are two different works based on different methodological assumptions. This is an advantageous phenomenon, since it increases the scale of choice and creates a perspective for a broader look at the problems of the future.

  1. Substantial elements of the accomplishments of the Polish practice

When analysing the experiences of the Futures Studies Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences during the over 30 years of its existence, one may recognise some processes and methods, which may be considered a substantial accomplishment, worthy of continuation in the future. For the adopted methods and assumptions proved themselves in these areas in practice.

Particularly seven of them may be considered to be accomplishments.The first one to list is the cross-disciplinary character, i.e. approaching matters and issues from various points of view and from the perspective of various scientific disciplines. This not only enriches the assessments, but also leads to the uncovering of aspects not revealed when approached by a single discipline. Such approach also prevents the tendencies of excessive specialisation and closing the particular disciplines within their own issues. The composition of the Committee also serves that purpose, since the Committee includes scientists of various specialisations (philosophers, engineers, lawyers, historians, sociologists, economists, and ecologists). For some time, the members of the Committee included internationally acclaimed Polish writers and journalists such as, for example,Stanislaw Lem - the science-fiction writer, orRyszard Kapuscinski . It is also for that reason that people completely unrelated to the given discipline are invited to participate in the Committee’s discussions. This formula proved to be right considering the objective tendency of growth of importance of the interdisciplinary forms of science. This direction was later confirmed by the international experiences. Multisided approach also favoured the principle of selecting people representing various worldview orientations and political beliefs, full freedom of expressing different, often even opposing opinions. Such type of thinking, however, does not accept any limits.

The second element of solid accomplishment is the fact of examining the problems of Poland always against the world background. Consistently observing this rule resulted in the development in the Committee’s works of the subject matter of world mega-trends and their effect on the situation in Poland. Such approach provided most of all with the possibility of objective assessments and the avoidance of one-sidedness. This approach was later confirmed by the international experience, which found expression in the well-known formula: “think globally, act locally”.

The third element is alternative thinking. It is not limited to the analysis of the existing forms or forms known from other countries. It continuously seeks the answer to the question whether there are any other ways leading to the same or an even better final result. Because of this the Committee was sometimes accused of too critical approach but it provided positive effects. For even if some solution functions effectively, one should think about the alternative ways of its replacement in the case when it would stop providing good results. It is important not to undertake the work in that direction too late and to have an alternative solution in reserve. For the most important and at the same time the most difficult is always finding a new idea for organising the reality.

The fourth solid element is the holistic, comprehensive approach. The Committee aimed at the most complex syntheses, at large syntheses, although often based on working hypotheses. Hence the Committee aimed at the integration of problems of the society, politics, culture, and economy, and the analysis of mutual relations between them.

The fifth solid element is the priority for the humanistic, social aspects of the development process. This protected from technocratic threats, quite effectively in fact, and from the excessive “economism”. On the one hand the studies on systems of values as well as education, culture and cultural heritage should be mentioned and on the other hand on the phenomenon of social pathology (delinquency, alcoholism, corruption) are worth mentioning.

The sixth solid element of the Committee’s work is the above-mentioned application of the method of system analyses.

Finally,the seventh element of the Committee’s work is its educational role among the staff conducting similar studies in various areas of economy, society, and culture. The literature published by the Committee raised at least two generations in the expert and scientific communities involved in the futures studies in Poland. On the average the Committee publishes 5-6 books yearly in the area of prognostic literature.

The relations between the Committee and the top-level decision-makers, particularly the parliament and the government, are also worth mentioning. There are still many issues, which are not yet fully resolved and are the subject of mutual criticism.

The government and the top-level decision-makers many times expressed their wish for the Committee’s publications to include, apart from diagnosis elements and general strategic concepts, more concrete proposals for solving the analysed problems.

However, this exceeds the abilities of the Committee as a social organisation without a broader executive apparatus. At the same time the Committee often presents opinions, which depart from the proposals of the government in the case of some issues. In turn, the Committee is of the opinion that its publications are not always sufficiently used in the work of the government. This was particularly true in the case of broad expertises and studies. That is why the Committee developed the new form of short, 4-pages-long at most, memoranda addressed to the highest authorities, which present the opinion of the Committee in the most important matters, regardless of the above mentioned full texts of expertises. This form turned out to be more effective, but there is a belief about the still insufficient use of the scientific publications in the activities of the government and the state administration.

However, the Committee believes that its most important role is its opinion-making function, which is its only strength. This is particularly important considering the fact that, as the surveys show, 80% of the readers of the Committee’s works are young people below 25 years of age.

The technical and engineering community also addresses postulates to the Committee, which are difficult to meet. Engineers and technicians wish to receive from the Committee more detailed and quantitatively precise prognoses concerning new technologies and products, which is not always possible, or even feasible. The Committee is only partially able to fulfil these postulates[^20] . In the face of enormous changeability of the modern world and abrupt, but not in a form of extrapolation, changes in technology, such detailed forms of making prognoses these days do not give satisfactory results. Nevertheless a close cooperation with the technical community is considered to be an important condition of the effectiveness of the Committee’s work.


One may draw the following most general conclusions from the hitherto consideration.

As the economic and social development of the world becomes more complicated and more difficult to foresee, the need for futures studies based on scientific principles does not decrease but to the contrary - it increases. These studies should be of a more continuous character and based on the monitoring of the phenomena, taking place and on the identifying of new tendencies.

Futures studies should draw from the achievements of economic models as broadly as possible. But the methods of formalised econometric models cannot replace the need to make strategic choices concerning the directions and the main concentration points of efforts and means, what the strategy is based on and what the models alone cannot provide.

The practical effectiveness of strategic long-term strategies for the governments depends on a proper resolution of the problems of competencies and making financial decisions subject to longer criteria than those, which decide during the approach to the yearly budget. Hence the too great position of the financial apparatus may undermine the effectiveness of a long-term strategy.

In order to ease the effects of an excessive concentration of attention on the current matters, as part of the 4-years cycle of the parliamentary life, it is important to seek those problems, which could receive support of various political forces of the country in the longer term and could be implemented regardless of changes in governments of various political orientation.

Most arguments favour the pluralistic approach to futures studies, i.e. conducting them in many centres, since then the results of their work will enrich or verify one another.

Scientific methodology creates particularly favourable conditions for the establishment of such studies of a comprehensive character and not subject to various forms of pressure of economic sectors, regional and local.

The development of new advanced technologies and contemporary principles of functioning of the market economies are growing more and more universal. That means that they are more and more common for different countries regardless of the differences in their social, geopolitical and economic position. It makes the application of the simulation method more and more useful. Hence the role of this method will probably increase in the futures studies of tomorrow.

There is a need for a much broader dissemination of knowledge about futures studies among the youth and in universities.

The processes of integration and of creation international communities such as for example the EU, and the creation of a new information civilization, require a fundamental intensification of futures studies both in the particular countries as well as on the scale of the European Union. For example, the vision of the future of Europe and its place in the world is presently particularly needed.

A fundamental broadening of the international exchange of information about the results of prognoses in the particular countries and the appropriate comparative analyses are necessary.

The use of resources of the European experiences in futures studies and programming, which among others concern the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, may create a strong element of comparative advantage of Europe over other partners on the world market. This chance should be used. The creation of the European Centre for Futures Studies, patterned after the Central European Bank, may favour that.