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Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag

Mix of Methods

TA projects, monitoring and innovation reports

TA projects, monitoring activities and innovation reports are central fields of operation for TAB. These fields have proved their worth, particularly as a tool to channel the numerous requests for topics received from the committees and parliamentary political parties into analytical processes suitable for the purposes of the German Bundestag.

  • TA projects use a broad analytical approach to tackle complex issues relating to scientific and technological developments. These issues are frequently of a pronounced transdisciplinary nature and have long-term societal significance. Comprehensive sustainable development is the key principle underpinning the analysis and assessment of scientific/technological, economic and social potentials and associated research and policy options.
  • Relevant constituent aspects of scientific, technological and societal change (e.g. status of research and development, regulation, international comparisons) and possible impacts are explored in monitoring projects with a defined thematic focus.
  • Innovation reports address areas which feature highly dynamic innovation activities in both scientific/technological and societal respects. These hold out the promise of substantial economic and application benefits and thus have the potential to fundamentally affect the structural transformation of the economy, science and society.

Horizon scanning, discourse analysis and dialogue with stakeholders

These analytical approaches are used to open up specific additional prospects:

  • Horizon scanning enables scientific/technological trends to be monitored at early stages of development and put into the context of societal debates with the objective of identifying innovation signals as early as possible and assessing their relevance. In most cases the focus will be on particular thematic areas which represent scientific and technological trends and/or specific areas of societal demand. To some extent horizon scanning will also be performed without thematic restrictions.
  • Encouraging public discourse and the formation of opinions in society is a fundamental constituent of TA in the German parliament. Systematic sharing of experiences and opinions with stakeholders is of particular importance in the process of identifying and structuring new topics and in the public discussion of results. Participative discourse analyses are used to examine the attitudes and approaches of representative stakeholders in order to take systematic account of societal demands and positions in TA studies.