Exploration of Weak Signals methodology and conceptual position in Futures Studies and Emerging Technologies literature؛ A Comparative Qualitative Study

Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD student at Supreme National Defense University, Tehran, Iran

2 Supreme National Defense University, Tehran, Iran


Weak signals are the most basic information whose identification and analysis is vital for early forecasting of future changes and strategic surprises prevention. Weak signals were first proposed by Ansoff in the theoretical literature of strategic management, but entered into the Futures Studies field and was also noticed by futurists. This question arises, what is the conceptual and methodological position of WS in other fields, especially in the field of Technology? Considering the irreplaceable role of technology in fast and comprehensive changes; In this research, the conceptual dimensions and methodology of WS in the field of technology and FS are studied based on comparative study approach. In terms of methodology, data and results, this research is a qualitative research and in terms of the purpose is a developmental research. The research data was extracted from ScienceDirect database based on Systematic review Protocols including valid scientific articles. The articles were reviewed and studied by use of Thematic analysis approach, and key themes were extracted and compared, based on the extracted themes the "Technology Weak Signals Box" tool is produced and introduced in this paper.

Examining the definitions and concepts of weak signals in fields of FS and technology shows that the concept of weak signals in the scientific literature of Technology does not have a specific definition and certain methodological platform. The qualitative results obtained from the reviews of the articles in the field of emerging technologies and WS show that methodological development of WS in the literature of technology requires the adaptation of technology life cycle models and the appropriate time structure of WS concept. Considering the close relationship between the prevention of strategic surprise and the identification and interpretation of WS, especially in the Technology area, the concept of WS should be redefined and restructured in the Technology literature.


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