Multi-path mapping for alignment strategies in emerging science and technologies

D.K.R. Robinson, T. Propp, Tilo Propp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Roadmapping serves both short and long term (strategic) alignment in science and technology (S&T). Forecasts of the likely future development of S&T are generated; then research and development (R&D) efforts necessary to realize various goals are backcast. But for new and emerging S&T this trusted principle does not work: the likely products are not articulated yet. A promising approach however is building mapping tools based on underlying patterns and indicators of the dynamics of emergence. This paper discusses, based on a first round application in the field of micro and nanotechnologies for single cell analysis, the methodology of such a new approach. The work is linked to a programme of Future oriented Technology Assessment (FTA) activities coordinated within a European nanotechnology research network. Our paper addresses well-known lacunae of alignment tools from the viewpoints of the path creation/dependency literatures. We then apply these insights to lab-on-a-chip devices for cell analysis. Dynamics of emerging paths can be used to articulate a future structured in terms of prospective innovation chains and potential paradigms. We demonstrate a plausible variety of paths, which provides a broader set of strategic choices. This enables management of expectations and hype by which emerging S&T are characterised, and leads to alignment of actors. Our tool can be applied in strategic management of research and R&D at the level of science-to-industry networks. These are becoming an important element in European S&T policy but will only be successful if ways are found for closing gaps in the innovation chain.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)517-538
Number of pages22
JournalTechnological forecasting and social change
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Multi-path mapping
  • Innovation chain
  • Emerging irreversibilities
  • Constructive technology assessment
  • Strategy support system
  • METIS-248511
  • IR-78881
  • Strategic alignment

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