English glossary

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A party that plays an important, often controlling role within a system, organisation, etc. In change situations, the party/parties which make(s) the process happen. See, for example, Soft systems methodology (SSM).

Age card

An anticipation tool especially developed for Regional foresight, aiming to identify quantitative and qualitative educational needs.

Analogiskt tänkande

A method in which the phenomenon under observation, often slow to provide information, is considered to be on a par with another different phenomenon, which can be observed or analysed more easily. For example, in physics, the phenomenon of a magnetic field can be researched using an electrical field and electrical phenomena using mechanical phenomena, because even though those phenomena are different in character, their mathematical descriptions are similar in form. Therefore, it is possible to deduce from measurements for one phenomenon the values that different factors might have when researching another relevant phenomenon. In futures studies or in humanities or social sciences in general, it is not possible to make such analogies between different phenomena. The means of hermeneutic analogy are interpretative and insightful. In order to understand the research matter, such as the future course of development of a certain phenomenon, another time period from history, where the course of events is already known, can be looked at more laterally. It is assumed at the same time that the course of events known from the past, even though it may be different in content, is analogous to the phenomenon being researched in form and/or in some other interesting respects. The known course of events provides a chance to draw conclusions on what may also happen in the phenomenon being studied.


Examination of parts and their relationship, research through decomposition, specification. The phases of analysis are (1) description of the phenomenon being studied, (2) its causal explanation and/or intentional interpretation, (3) law-like logical or analogous reflection beyond observation spatially, temporally or conceptually, and (4) presentation of grounded generalisations.

Anticipating Quantitative Educational Needs in Vocational Education and Training (MITENNA)
Kvalitativ prognostering av utbildningsbehoven (MITENNA)

The Project to Anticipate Quantitative Educational Needs in Vocational Education and Training was implemented by the National Board of Education with support from the Ministry of Education and the European Social Fund. The objective was to acquire the statistical and other information necessary for anticipation and to create a calculation model that could be applied to anticipation, which would utilise this material. On the basis of the results, a national forecast of educational needs was produced, stemming from the needs of working life. With the aid of the calculation model, forecasts of needs for vocational education and training for 2001-2005 were derived from the forecasts of changes and natural wastage in the total labour force, through until the year 2010. These forecasts were then presented for different fields of study and levels of education in qualification-oriented initial vocational education and in higher (polytechnic and university) education. Abridged English version of an anticipation publication entitled Vocational education and training 2010, Demand for new labour in 2010 and the dimensioning of vocational education and training.

Argument analysis

Argumentation means justifying one's own arguments. Presentation and justification of arguments form an integral part of debate. In scientific debates, arguments must have well-founded justifications. Futures-related argumentation and argument analysis play a key role in Delphi studies, for example.

Attrition; natural wastage

In foresight, attrition usually refers to the permanent exit of people from the labour force. When demand for labour is anticipated using various applications of the labour force method, attrition is often considered to comprise three components: retirement, disability and death. For example, the Mitenna project, which ended in 1999, anticipated that about 820,000 people would leave the employed labour force during the period 1995-2010. Disability, retirement and death were estimated to account for 67%, 28% and 5%, respectively, of that figure. Combined, the change in the amount of the labour force and attrition lead to demand for new labour (= job openings).



Backcasting, takaisin tulevaisuudesta ennakointi
Backcasting (prognostiseringen Tillbaka från framtiden)

Backcasting - making reverse predictions from a possible future state - is an approach used in futures studies that, by its problem-solving nature, is well suited to long-term problem areas, such as problems relating to sustainable development. Backcasting aims to provide decision-makers and the general public with images of the future for the purposes of forming opinions and making decisions.


A system of measurement, in which the same questions are repeated over certain time periods and the differences between the results from different times are compared. See Futures barometer (FUBARO).

Baronet, (Baronetti)
Baronett, (Baronetti)

A system of anticipating working life skills developed in the Satakunta Region of Finland.

Basis of classification standards

Statistics describing different data are generally compiled from a large set of individual observations. The observations have to be grouped to produce statistics so that they form a structured and controlled description of the real situation. Such grouping of observations or statistical units is possible by means of classification. Classification means that units are divided into groups according to specific features so that each unit belongs to just one group. In the classification, the groups are named and given identifiers (codes). Statistics Finland compiles and publishes several classification and concept standards. Their general objective is to advance the comparability, uniformity and combination of statistical data, to improve the acquisition possibilities of basic statistical data and to reduce the social costs of data collection. The classification and concept standards published by Statistics Finland are intended to be used in statistics but can also be used in other information systems. The classification and concept standards are recommendations. Where the standards cannot be applied due to administrative or other practices, it is desirable for a conversion key to be formed of the classification used with the statistical standard compiled by Statistics Finland. Read more about classifications on the website of Statistic Finland.


1) forecasting the development of living organisms, i.e. evolution; 2) human and cultural influence on biological evolution; 3) possibilities brought about by science and technology, esp. gene technology, to change and create new species and ecological communities. 


Free idea creation and exploration of possible alternatives, often carried out in a group. The aim is to find a creative model or models in order to resolve actual problems. See also Futures workshop, futures studio

Brändi, brandi

Means a label, a trademark and a proprietary product. However, a brand is more than just a product. A brand may be an organisation, a company, a product, a product group, a project or even a person. In narrow terms, a brand is taken to mean a trademark or a company logo, whereas the broader definition is an organisation's internal value-adding process that creates competitiveness.




Expressing cause; relating to cause and effect. 

Causal chain
Kausaalinen ketju

A chain of cause and effect. Causal chains are generally connected with phenomena to be explained in natural sciences. 

Sammanträffande, slump

A matter, an event or a process, which doesn't have a scientific cause or an explanation. Evolution change and Chaos include chances, which can not be anticipated or measured in time or in amount.

Change in the number of employed people
Työllisten määrän muutos
Kvantitativ förändring i sysselsättningen

The difference in the total number of employed people between two points in time (the forecast point and the present). The change in the number of employed people may be examined by occupation or occupational group, for example, or in terms of the entire group of employed people. Combined with attrition, the change in the number of employed people forms the demand for new labour (change in the number of employed people + attrition = demand for new labour).


The term is associated with chaos theories, especially when applied to social sciences in this case. It is a special form of order. It does not mean the same as disorder, but is instead a complex form of order.

Chaos theory

In many fields, theories presented especially in mathematics, information technology and systems theories on the character of development including sudden springs and surprising elements. For example, social development includes phases of chaotic or transitionary leaps and it is impossible (or difficult) to predict and which produce alternatives for new stable development or lead to a collapse of the system (organisation, society, business etc.)


Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers and associated institutions in a particular field that exist in a nation or region. Clusters arise because they increase the productivity with which companies can compete. The development and upgrading of clusters is an important agenda for governments, companies and other institutions. Cluster development initiatives are an important new direction for economic policy, building on earlier efforts in macroeconomic stabilization, privatisation, opening up of markets and reducing the costs of doing business.


In statistical studies, a group whose members have experienced the same thing at the same time.

Committee for the Future

A permanent committee of the Finnish Parliament whose task involves continuous assessment of various factors, elements and courses, as well as models of development, such as Finland's position in globalisation and use of natural resources. The Committee also acquaints itself with current issues relating to futures methodology and is also preparing a proposal for statements on the Futures declaration by the Government. In addition, one of the main duties of the Committee is Technology assessment for Parliament. Read more about the committee on the website of the Parliament of Finland.

Competence qualifications

Changes in working life often require changes in competences. By analysing these changes systematically, core competences can also be identified.


A multifold phenomenon, built from various parts (elements, incidents, chains of cause and effect) and woven together into an inseparable whole, which is difficult to analyse, solve, itemise or sort out. The concept includes an idea that, firstly, the whole is something different and more than merely a sum of its parts. Therefore it cannot be solved or measured by explaining its parts. Thus, a complex phenomenon is qualitatively different from the component parts. Secondly, a specific complex whole also affects partial phenomena, things and features it is composed of and therefore also changes them. A system, an organisation or a being can be understood as being complex, if it is open and if it has continuous, two-way information flow.

Conjoint analysis
Yhdistelmäanalyysi eli Conjoint -analyysi
Conjoint-analys (kombinationsanalys)

Conjoint analysis means simultaneous comparison of several contributory factors. Conjoint analysis is a fast and efficient market research method based on the theory of consumer choice, which allows analysis of consumer spending behaviour. Conjoint analysis is typically used for designing new products, pricing products and services and segmenting customers. In addition, conjoint analysis is also an umbrella term for analytical techniques used to open up interrelated decomposition models in decision-making. Some applications of the method have been developed in the field of foresight.


The quality of an incident or phenomenon which includes risk typically indicating that it is not possible to know in advance the alternative form that it will take or when it will finally happen. A phenomenon can be understood as contingent, if it can have several different states, values and/or forms which are impossible or nearly impossible to define in advance from its earlier state, value and/or form. One can also speak of subjective contingency which is a quality of such phenomena which might (probability 1) or might not (probability 0) occur.

Creating the future
Tulevaisuuden tekeminen

A way of thinking according to which the future is seen as being a result of one's own choices and decisions. This is why it is important to pay attention to the "Objectives" and to explore the range of possible futures so that the future which will one day come about can be as close as possible to the goals set previously.
Futures thinking a way of thinking oriented towards the future and interested in or concerned with things and phenomena dealing with the future. It is based on both the need to gain information on what will happen in the future and on finding solid ground for decisions and choices to be made in the present.

Creative class
Luova luokka
Kreativ klass

According to Richard Florida, human creativity is the ultimate economic resource (Florida 2002). He states that the ability to come up with new ideas and better ways of doing things is ultimately what raises productivity and thus, in turn, living standards. The creativity of society is reflected in the number of creative individuals, the 'creative class', which consists of those working in creative occupations: scientists, engineers, teachers, journalists, artists, musicians, designers, etc. In developed countries, the creative class covers about 30% of the population. In terms of innovation policy, a key observation made by Dr. Florida is that, on average, innovative activity is livelier in tolerant regions. This is based on the fact that tolerant regions attract creative people and are open to new ideas. Tolerance is measured using four indices relating to the number of gay people, bohemianism, cultural diversity and racial integration. According to Florida, economic growth depends on three T's - Technology, Talent and Tolerance.

Creative economy
Luova talous
Kreativ ekonomi

The creative economy refers to an economy where competition and growth in productivity are based on innovations. The creative economy may also mean a creative industry, which refers to cultural production and industry and the economic significance of arts and culture. The creative economy may further refer to a creative way of action. The creative economy means that creativity emerges as a key value-adding factor in all economic activities. Creativity thus plays a significant role in all activities, not just within high technology or traditional creative industries, such as cultural services. 'Creative industries' is a term related to 'the cultural industry'.

Cross-impact analysis
Korsverkan analys

A method used to consider the effects of different forecasts on some specific theme to the probabilities of realisation of other forecasts. Olaf Helmer originally developed the method to supplement the Delphi technique. The analysis is often built up into a matrix form. Cross-impact matrix is a matrix of effects where the different parts and/or courses of development are grouped both horizontally and vertically and the effects between the variables are marked in the squares.




A Dynamic (upgradeable, modifiable, updateable) Skills Classification, which can be used for statistical processing of qualitative data describing the skills needs of business enterprises.

Data mining
Tiedon louhinta / data mining
Data mining

Data mining involves development and application of (semi)automatic mathematical, statistical or IT-based methods to analyse large data warehouses. The aim is to seek interesting data from databases in an algorithmically efficient manner. Data mining is not exactly statistics, but their objectives are ultimately the same in practical terms, as both aim to predict the future. In addition to forecasting and a clear understanding formed on the basis of data, data mining also emphasises automated and AI methods as well as algorithmic efficiency. The material being analysed may also have been collected for purposes other than data analysis (log databases, newspaper corpora, etc.). Foresight can also make use of methods such as text mining.

Delphi technique
Delfoi-tekniikka, delfoi, delfitekniikka

Expert technique; a phased, structured or half-structured survey method, in which the opinions of a group (esp. experts) on some specific topic are brought out and refined into knowledge. Knowledge constructed on subjective opinions can be seen to include Tacit knowledge, which forms a part of futures-oriented knowledge. The method was developed by Olaf Helmer and Norman Dalkey in 1953 and was then used in planning strategies for warfare as part of the RAND-project. The Delphi is usually composed of two or three rounds of surveys, during which time opinions are collected and information is gleaned from them, fed back to the experts (esp. the ones out of line with the majority and their reasons) for further consideration. Originally, Delphi was created in order to reach consensus and the rounds were repeated as many times as was necessary to reach this goal. Today, the principle of Delphi is more concentrated on the divergence and the aim of the researchers is to gain a wide understanding of the various ideas and opinions that the experts have on some topic, as well as their justification for them. Today, Delphi is often also included in network-based computer programs, such as the Professional Delphi Scan. Together with Scenario working, the Delphi technique is one of the most well-known research methods in futures studies.

Demand for education
Koulutuksen kysyntä
Efterfrågan av utbildning

In foresight, demand for education usually refers to applications for education and/or training. Demand for education is said to be high (in a certain field of vocational education and training, for example), if a considerable number of people have applied. This phenomenon can be measured through the number of applicants per place available in a certain field and/or at a particular level of education, for example. From the perspective of the labour market, people sometimes say that demand for education in a certain field is high, if those who have completed an educational qualification in that field are part of a highly sought-after labour force.

Demand for new labour
Uuden työvoiman tarve
Behovet av ny arbetskraft

This concept is used in anticipation based on the labour force method to describe the amount of completely new labour needed over a certain anticipation period in order to satisfy demand for labour. Demand for new labour can be analysed by occupation or occupational group, or in terms of the entire labour force, for example. Demand for new labour is made up of the sum of the change in the number of employed people and attrition. For example, if the number of employed people in a certain occupational group in the target year of anticipation is up by 200 on the baseline year, and if 800 people among the total labour force in that occupational group will exit the labour force between the baseline year and the target year, the demand for new labour in that occupational group amounts to 1,000 people during the anticipation period. Sometimes this is also referred to as job openings. 


Giving a picture in words.


A belief indicating that something that will happen in the future is causally fully determined by what has happened in the past. A more precise definition can be found in literature of philosophy of sciences.

Development path (scenario)
Kehityspolku eli skenaario
Utvecklingsstig eller scenario
A series of images of the future, presented in chronological order. See also Scenario.


A changing trend; a sudden and strong change in the quality or course of development of some phenomenon or idea.

Driving forces, drivers
Driving force -ilmiöt, driver-ilmiöt
Driving force -fenomen, drivkrafter

Phenomena typical to a society or a wider level directing decision-making and choices. They are not continuous in the future in the same sense as a Trend and Megatrends. Driving forces do not necessarily have a direction, but they still function behind decision-making and choices either consciously or unconsciously. They can be a special kind of basic belief held by society, an organisation, or individual participants and connected to the present time and habits. They are a group of general assumptions not usually expressed or written down, nor questioned. Questioning a prevailing driving force often arouses significant attention and opposition. See Environmental scanning.

Dynamic Skills Classification (D.S.C.)
Dynaaminen osaamisluokitus (D.O.L.)
Dynamisk kompetensklassificering (D.O.L.)

See D.S.C..


1) A place and/or a time somewhere in the future where the state of things is worse than in the present time, or in the place and/or time under comparison. 
2) A continuum and transferor of bad affairs affecting the present time. See the opposite form Utopia.




An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is an instrument to influence planning, because the aim of the assessment is to reduce or mitigate the adverse effects of a planned project and to reinforce its positive effects. For citizens, environmental impact assessment provides an opportunity to participate in planning and preparatory phases of matters and to obtain information on future changes. The process often involves the life-cycle approach, where foresight also plays a key role. 

ESF foresight

European Social Fund (ESF) is one of the structural funds of the European Union. The ESF seeks to promote measures to prevent and combat unemployment, develop human resources and improve equal access to the labour market. The activities of the European Social Fund are implemented through programmes. The central participants from the Finnish public and private sectors, labour market organisations and other central organisations participate in the programme work at a national level. The ESF programmes are financed jointly by the EU and the Member States. The EU financing share of Objective 3 and EQUAL are covered by the ESF. Regional objectives 1 and 2 are funded by the ESF and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) among other funds. There were over 200 foresight projects during the previous programming period from 1995-1999, but during the 2000-2006 period foresight is not a measure in itself. Foresight is one of the horizontal themes of the ESF frame of reference. In relation to the frame of reference, it means the perspective of anticipation and the visionary approach, which must be integrated into all ESF activities in order to enhance the effectiveness of a project.

Econometric time series analysis
Ekonometrinen aikasarja-analyysi
Ekonometrisk tidsserieanalys

Use of time series models to describe, analyse and forecast economic phenomena.

Economic surveys

Questionnaire surveys usually conducted several times each year and based on samples, enquiring about respondents' perceptions of the near future. The questions generally concentrate on demand for labour, investments or volume of orders in the near future, or on the general economic outlook in a certain field.

Education and Research 2003-2008 Development Plan
Koulutuksen ja tutkimuksen kehittämissuunnitelma 2003-2008
Utvecklingsplan för utbildning och forskning 2003-2008

The Government has adopted a development plan called Education and Research 2003-2008, which is based on the education and science policy aims recorded in the Government Programme and the Government's Strategy Document. The purpose of the development plan for education and research (2003-2008) is to ensure the realisation of basic security in education. See publication on the website of the Ministry of Education.

Educational Provision 2012, (Koulutustarjonta 2012 -projekti)
Koulutustarjonta 2012 -projekti
Utbildningsutbudet 2012, (Koulutustarjonta 2012 -projekti)

The Educational Provision 2012 project consists of the preparatory group for anticipation of educational needs and quantitative planning of educational provision appointed by the Ministry of Education and of its broad-based expert division. The purpose of the project is to: 1. monitor and assess development of educational needs among young people and adults as well as in working life and, based on this, make proposals to the Ministry of Education to develop educational provision; 2. submit a report to the Ministry of Education by 30th November 2005, covering the possible effects of social, economic and labour developments in 2004-2005 on the targets of educational provision set out in the Development Plan adopted for 2003-2008 and, where necessary, a proposal for revision of the Development Plan; 3. make a preliminary proposal to the Ministry of Education by 31st January 2007 for the targets of educational provision for 2012 intended to be included in the Development Plan for Education and Research drawn up for 2007-2012 and, thereafter, participate in further preparations of this Development Plan in these respects.

Educational need

The concept of educational need has been approached as follows in the Mitenna project, for example: "Determination of educational needs may be examined from three perspectives, which are that:
1) an individual has a need to receive education, i.e. an individual educational need;
2) society needs to train its members, i.e. a social educational need;
3) the educational needs of an individual and society "intersect" in occupational activities in working life, while developments in the latter also create educational needs."
1) Individual educational needs can be measured through the level of demand for a certain type of education and/or training (applicants, entrants, student volumes). These do not, however, describe social educational needs, although they do channel expectations that are not necessarily addressed by social educational needs at all (such as personal development, increasing equality, etc.).
2) Social educational needs stem from the idea that education and training play a key role in terms of society and development of its welfare. Society has a need to train its members, because human capital is considered to be an important factor of production. In general terms, practice also supports the legitimacy of this view. Examined through various indicators of success and welfare, the most successful nations are the ones that invest in education and training.
3) Discrepancies between individual and social educational needs lead to problems in balancing demand for and supply of education: some fields experience difficulties in attracting enough prospective students, whereas willingness to apply for education and/or training in some other fields may even significantly exceed the estimated social educational needs.

Employed person

Statistics Finland defines an employed person as follows: 'An employed person is any person who works at least one hour per week in gainful employment. Employed people are divided into wage-earners, entrepreneurs and those assisting in a family member's enterprise without pay. In addition, those temporarily out of work (due to holiday or illness) and those laid off for a fixed term (less than 3 months) are considered to be employed. According to the ILO's recommendation, even a modest amount of work is better than unemployment.'

Employment Bulletin (Ministry of Labour Employment Bulletin)
Työllisyyskatsaus (työministeriön työllisyyskatsaus)
Sysselsättningsöversikt (arbetsministeriets sysselsättningsöversikt)

A description of the Employment Bulletins issued by the Ministry of Labour: 'The Employment Bulletin is a report on the recent development of unemployment, vacancies and measures taken by the labour administration and made by the Ministry of Labour on the basis of the employment service statistics each month. The comparison of the statistics is made to the corresponding month of the previous year. In addition to data from the reference month, the tables included in the Bulletin also cover data from the previous month and/or the corresponding month of the previous year.' Read the description of Ministry of Labour Employment Bulletin at the Ministry of Labour website.

Employment rate
Relativt sysselsättningstal

The percentage proportion of employed people in the total population. The official employment rate is calculated as the percentage of employed people aged 15-64 in the total population of the same age, as follows: e = E/P × 100, where E is the number of employed people aged 15-64 and P is the population aged 15-64. (Source: Statistics Finland).

Employment service statistics (Ministry of Labour employment service statistics)
Työnvälitystilasto (työministeriön työnvälitystilasto)
Arbetsförmedlingsstatistik (arbetsministeriets arbetsförmedlingsstatistik)

An extract from the description of employment service statistics issued by the Ministry of Labour: 'Employment service statistics publications contain key data on job-seekers registered with local employment offices, in particular those currently unemployed, as well as data on labour market measures and vacancies. The scope of job-seeker groups is defined in terms of the number of people, similar to the numbers of participants in labour market measures (employment training, etc.). Vacancies refer to the number of open positions advertised at local employment offices on the reference date. Unemployed people are required to register with their local employment office as unemployed job-seekers in order to receive unemployment benefits. Likewise, those on unemployment pension are required to be registered with their local employment office as job-seekers for the duration of the pension period.'

Employment statistics

Quatation of description done by Statistic Finland: "Employment statistics are annual statistics providing data by region on the population's economic activity and employment. The population for the statistics is the permanently resident population in the country on the last day of the year. The data are mainly derived from administrative registers and statistical data files. The unit-specific data of the employment statistics are confidential by virtue of the Statistics Act. Data can be produced by all regional divisions based on municipalities and co-ordinates, as well as by postal code area." Read full description of employment statistics on the website of Statistic Finland.

Endogenous growth model
Endogeenisen kasvun malli
Den endogena tillväxtmodellen

Modelling the origin of technological progress. The endogenous growth theory assumes that the accumulation of knowledge, competence and technology, involving complex networking between economic actors, produces a higher impact of economic efficiency than allocation of capital and work. 

Entrepreneurial futurology / business futurology

Strategic, entrepreneurial planning with the help of methods developed in futures studies for that purpose; especially scenario methods and visionary leadership.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA)
Ympäristövaikutusten arviointi (YVA)
Miljökonsekvensbedömningar (MKB)

See EIA.

Environmental scanning
Toimintaympäristön muutosten tarkastelu, (environmental scanning)

Exploration into and understanding of changes and their course in phenomena from the point of view of their different future consequences caused by events, decision-making and choices. Often also called monitoring. The tracing of forces of change forms one of the most important working phases in futures studies. This phase is often connected with systems thinking, but it is of special importance in scenario working. Environmental scanning is composed of the tracing, recognition and analysis of Trend, Megatrends, Weak signals or emerging issues, Wild Card and so-called Driving forces, drivers. The environment here means the socio-cultural, political, ecological and economic scene or whole of the participant where the events take place.

Estimation, assessment

Evaluation; for example, the calculation of statistical parameters using research data.


Michael Scriven's definition of evaluation: 'Evaluation is the process of determining the merit, worth and value of things, and evaluations are the products of that process.' The core of evaluation is that its target is examined in relation to a certain criterion of evaluation in order to present a judgement from this point of view.
Chelimsky & Shadish have determined three key purposes for evaluation:
1. Evaluation for accountability - measurement of results or efficiency
2. Evaluation for development - provision of information to improve performance and help to strengthen institutions
3. Evaluation for knowledge - provision of information to acquire a more profound understanding of activities.

Evaluation of education
Koulutuksen arviointi

Evaluation and anticipation of education is carried out to inform and help political decision-making. Evaluation is done both at local, regional and national levels and also internationally.

Evolution change

Process of a structure from a simpler level to a more complex level. Gradual change of biological species, race, etc.; the development of a relatively peaceful social, political, economic etc. process. Evolution is based on adaptation to different environmental factors and changes in them. Evolutionism = theory of evolution; an idea that all that happens, happens as part of some larger, uniform and deterministic course of development.

Expert panel

A group of experts on some specific theme or phenomenon brought together to discuss and/or produce materials based on their opinions in some other way. The opinions deal with issues on future challenges and changes in the theme area. See, for example, Futures barometer (FUBARO) and Delphi technique.

Extrapolation, trend extrapolation
Ekstrapolointi, trendiekstrapolointi
Extrapolering (trendextrapolering)

Continuation of development into the future by assuming that the phenomenon being studied changes along the same lines as in earlier observations. The projection of information gained so far about development into the future along the same lines. A part of time series analysis in which the course of the time series is continued into the future or into the past with the help of observed regularities. See also Trend.

Extrapolation, trend extrapolation
Ekstrapolointi, trendiekstrapolointi
Extrapolering, trendextrapolering

See Trend extrapolation, extrapolation.




See Futures barometer (FUBARO) 

Factor analysis

Factor analysis aims to find latent correlations, or factors, from a set of variables describing the properties of an observational unit. The underlying principle is that observational units have certain properties that cannot be observed directly and that it is only possible to obtain indirect information about these. A factor can be understood as being a certain type of hypothetical construction or theoretical concept, the existence of which is deduced from concrete observations.

Field of vocational education and training
Studieområde (på finska opintoala, jfr. ubildningsområde = koulutusala)
A classification defining the general distribution of education and training in different fields of society and working life. A field of vocational education and training usually refers to an overarching field that is more extensive than an individual upper secondary or post-secondary vocational qualification.

Finland Futures Research Centre
Tulevaisuuden tutkimuskeskus

Finland Futures Research Centre is an organisation for futures research, education and development, which has operations on local, national and international levels. The Centre produces and promotes visionary information about the future trends of society and the environment.  

Forecast, forecasting, prediction

To assess the future of something using information. Also the future state of things or phenomena assessed in advance, such as a weather forecast. Prediction: A future state of affairs which the participant regards as being the most likely among the possible and conceivable alternatives especially when the participant him-/herself is not able to affect the course of events for his own sake or for somebody else's sake. A prediction or an image of the probable future is therefore a passive opinion of a bystander on the future of some thing most often not in the very distant future. Predictions are necessary from the point of view of aimed action and rational planning of choices and acts related to it.

Forerunner analysis
Trend Setter -metod

An expert method in which the operations, models and ideas of the person/organisation who first introduced some new thing, action, phenomenon, etc. are studied.

Foresight Forum (organized by the MTI)
Ennakointifoorumi (KTM:n järjestämä)
Prognostiseringsforum (organiserad av HIM)

The Foresight Forum is a co-operation platform set up and organised by the Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), which promotes practices to generate and utilise various types of information about the future. Read more about the forum on the website of the Foresight Forum.

Foresight framing
Ennakointikehys / foresight framing
Prognostiseringsram / foresight framing

Delineation of a foresight process (subject, participants, time span, processing, etc.).

Foresight network

Carrying out a Foresight exercise involves many participants - the number can vary widely from tens up to thousands - including representatives of regional governments, universities, businesses, chambers of co, mmerce, local media, industry associations, NGOs and citizens. The identity of key players will depend upon the objectives and orientation of Foresight activities. As a general rule, the more leading local players that can be mobilised the better. Three approaches for recruiting potential participants are commonly used, namely personal contacts, nominations from stakeholders and more formal (transparent) processes, such as co-nomination (a variation on snow-ball sampling). Players will need to be convinced of the worth of Regional foresight, so arguments in its favour should emphasise the potential benefits to be gained through such activities. Various tools can be used to promote regional Foresight more widely, including publications and traditional communication tools (databases, newsletters), forums, events requiring participation (hearings, seminars, conferences, workshops, meetings), and illustration of Foresight success stories in other regions. There are three main organisational dimensions in any Foresight activity that need to be considered: its formal structure (roles and responsibilities), the decision processes (management style) and resource procurement (sponsorship). A number of formal and informal roles can be discerned in regional Foresight, including promoters, stakeholders, sponsors, the steering committee, the project team, champions, experts, process experts, monitoring groups, etc. Formal roles and responsibilities require careful definition so that players know what they need to do and by when. Players should be frequently consulted throughout the course of regional activities, although Foresight offers many 'natural' opportunities to do this. Consultation is important, since it gives participants and other stakeholders a sense of ownership of the process and its outputs.

Foresight, anticipation
Framsyn, prognostisering, förutsägelse, anticipering

Was first developed as a critique to more traditional forecasting, prediction and practices. The principle of foresight is that the present and the future are inseparably interconnected. Therefore, phenomena and phenomena dealing with society, technology, science, education, political practice, culture and economy, as well as their future, are examined as inter-linked systemic wholes and it is important to also consider values and openness in their understanding and development. Foresight is often a process-like activity where the aim is towards technological development through social decision-making and in which new, often hidden possibilities are put forward by studying different viewpoints and sectors together.
Anticipation: A synonym for Futures studies, futures research, control of the present which changes towards the future with the help of information about the past, the present and the future. Also assessment of the course of development of a trend at some assumed degree of probability during a determined period of time. Anticipation is regarded as being composed of the description of the future, the creation, development and utilisation of methods of analysis, and the production, procurement, processing, formulation, analysis and reporting of information on the future. The word is often also used to refer to planning methods in order to separate those from actual futures studies. 

Futures Wheel
Futures Wheel, (tulevaisuuspyörä, tulevaisuusratas)
Futures Wheel, (framtidshjul)

A structured, brainstorming-related method created by Jerome Glenn in the 1970's. With the help of a wheel and arrows drawn on a piece of paper, the first, second and third-order impacts of a particular trend, event, decision or emerging issue on the functioning and values etc. of society or some organisation are traced. With the help of a futures wheel, different ideas and possible future consequences of a certain phenomenon can be organised, understood and specified. Widely used in futures work among children and young people, as well as within businesses and organisations.

Futures awareness

An active standpoint towards the future, past and present and the relationships between them, leading to action. A way of constructing human thinking. An integral form of building an opinion on the meaning and consequences of the meanings of everyday actions.

Futures barometer (FUBARO)
Tulevaisuusbarometri (TUBARO)

A method to explore experts' opinions on development and change, as well as their possible future influences and the qualities of some phenomenon or institution (education, for example). The collection of materials is often collected by expert panels (see the Delphi technique, for example) and analysed using Cross-impact analysis. FUBARO produces background materials for discussion and to support decision-making relevant to the theme area. With the help of Futures barometers covering a specific theme area and carried out at certain time intervals, it is possible to collect and study emerging issues (Weak signals), trends and other issues for Environmental scanning. In addition, the resulting change phenomena can be used as grounds for Scenario working.

Futures map

The set of futures paths and their indication of possible futures. See Futures path (futures trail) or Path for the future.

Futures path (futures trail) or Path for the future

A possible course of events towards a certain futures situation; a logical continuum of decisions, choices and their consequences. See also Scenario

Futures studies, futures research
Tulevaisuudentutkimus, tulevaisuuden tutkimus, tulevaisuustutkimus
Framtidsforskning, framtidsstudier, framtidssyn

The collection, critical analysis, creative synthesis and systematic presentation of intuitive and other knowledge and information about the future. The futures viewpoint is determined by the active subject (individual, firm, office or institution, community, society, state, group of states, humankind, living nature etc.) who gives orientation towards the future. See also Futurology, Foresight, anticipation and Forecast, forecasting, prediction.

Futures table
Framtidstabell, framtidsmatris

A tabulated collection of different futures states, arranged in sectors, which usually represent one specific viewpoint at a time previously determined. The analysis of a Futures table should recognise the central variables of the problem field (phenomena, actors, factors) and their possible alternatives of coming true in the future.

Framtidstabell som metod
Futures table method

Developed in California in the late 1950's. An expert panel composes thoughts from the topic being studied and the ideas produced are then collected into a table. Small groups build Images of the future from the Futures table and a synthesis is created from them. Widely used to complement other futures methods, such as Scenario working.

Futures workshop, futures studio
Tulevaisuusverstas, tulevaisuusstudio, tulevaisuustyöpaja
Framtidsverkstäder, framtidsstudio, framtidsworkshop

A working group method first developed by Robert Jungk. Composed of several consequential phases; mainly used for solving a timely problem/problems within a community, firm, commune etc. from a futures-oriented point of view or for exploring their futures alternatives. At present, there are several futures workshop methods that are different in nature and length. In a futures workshop, the aim is to bring up the threats and possibilities of the study objective (field or factor). The participants are seen as being experts in their own field, region or in their group's situation who, would also be the best placed to understand the complete situation and whose opinion is essential in the process of choosing the most desirable future state and strategy


A possible course of future development. A concept created by a Spanish Jesuit, Molina, in 1588 by connecting the French (or English) words "future" and "possible". The concept is used especially by French futurists and it meant the objective where a person's thoughts are looking towards when considering the future.


The school of art first created in Italy in 1910 by the poet and painter Emilio Filippo Martinetti (1878-1944).


A field of study originating in Germany in the early 1940's. The concept was first used by Ossip Flechtheim (1943). He stated that futurology was close to modern development research and mainly concentrated on significant human issues, global problems and problem definitions. So-called historical futurology is mainly limited to artistic or philosophical science fiction literature, which deals with different social Utopias or Dystopias brought about by scientific or technological development.

Fuzzy logic
Sumea logiikka
Oskarp logik

Fuzzy logic was developed to meet the needs of fuzzy systems. These include those systems where, contrary to traditional logic, it is not possible to draw direct conclusions from assumptions, because these do not usually match the requirements of the situation in full. Examples include human behaviour based on different baseline values and in different situations. The theory of fuzzy sets has indeed been applied in a very wide variety of areas that may be quite different from each other, such as control theory, diagnostics, decision theory, optimisation theory, robotics, mathematics (incl. logic, topology, algebra), "intelligent" systems, sociology and behavioural sciences.



Game theory

The game theory is about mathematical modelling of strategic behaviour. In terms of foresight, game theories can be applied to creating a game theory model involving several decision-makers, i.e. players, and to analysis of the model and related suitable solution concepts. The game theory is concerned with "games", in other words, the behaviour of rational players in various strictly defined, simplified situations, and with the rules of these games and applications of the situations in practical research.


Globalisation or internationalisation is a multidimensional term. Globalisation is a multilevel process which embraces an economic, political, social as well as cultural dimension and where new institutions, structures and organisations operate at a transnational level, independent of nation-states. In social and cultural terms, globalisation means dissolution of geographic restrictions. It is a concept that describes the current phase of social change, where borders are becoming less significant and interaction is increasing.

Government Foresight Network
Valtioneuvoston ennakointiverkosto
Statsrådets nätverk för prognostisering

The Government Foresight Network was created for the purpose of co-ordinating central government foresight activities. Its term of office lasts until the spring of 2007. The Foresight Network consists of representatives of 10 ministries and the Prime Minister's Office. The network is chaired by the Ministry of Labour. The network's members and duties are detailed in the decision on its appointment. The purpose of the Government Foresight Network is to ensure sufficient co-ordination of foresight activities between different ministries and the Prime Minister's Office. The network develops competence in foresight, supports regional foresight efforts and ensures utilisation of foresight results in central, regional and local administration. The aim is to specify key questions for the future, introduce the viewpoints of different administrative sectors on important issues and make use of foresight information in decision-making and planning.

Government Report on the Future

The Finnish Government submits a Report on the Future to Parliament once every term of office. The Report on the Future is one of the instruments that the Government uses to anticipate future developments. Reports on the Future are usually results of extensive research projects aiming to explore the topic from the perspective of a specific research design. Reports on the Future have aimed at extensive and goal-oriented assessment. The intention of preparatory work for the current Report on the Future was to take into account information about development up until around 2050. The time-span used to define policies is less far-reaching.

Graduated upgrading model
Kunskapslyft hos arbetskraften

This model refers to a situation where the most qualified workers in an industry are systematically trained to produce success products. This means that the next group of workers can be trained to fill the occupations vacated by the first group, producing good margins. This makes it possible to protect certain parts of the labour force from the risk of unemployment. It requires equivalent win-win situations to emerge between companies. Further information: Timo Sneck (2002): Hypoteeseista ja skenaarioista kohti yhteiskäyttäjien ennakoivia ohjantajärjestelmiä (From hypotheses and scenarios towards forecast-initiated action platforms for decision-making networks; English abstract available).




A model for reconciling supply of and demand for labour, developed in support of regional planning as part of a joint project between the Finnish Ministry of the Interior and the Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo. The abbreviation "HEMAASU" comes from the model"s developer, Henrik Rissanen (HE), and a Finnish word meaning regional planning (MAASU). The first part of the model comprises anticipation of the population and the supply of labour. The model automatically calculates the supply of labour for each alternative demographic forecast. This is accomplished through labour force participation rates. All indicators (net migration, population, age structure and labour force participation rates) can be changed in the desired direction, thus increasing or reducing the amount of labour within the model. The model also allows manipulation of net commuting rates, which influence the supply of labour. The second part of the model is made up of anticipation of demand for labour (jobs) and the gross regional product.
Jobs and the gross regional product are presented with accuracy reflecting 28 industries. The model allows anticipation of jobs in two different ways: 1. by first assessing jobs and productivity of labour per industry, after which the model automatically outputs the gross regional product per industry; or 2. by anticipating annual changes in the regional product and labour productivity in different industries over a 5-year period, in which case the model automatically calculates and outputs the number of jobs per industry. When both parts of the model have been performed once, the model automatically outputs data on the total population, age structure, labour force participation rate among people aged 15-64, jobs, job ratio, number of unemployed people, unemployment rate, employment rate, economic dependency ratio, the so-called cost of ageing, and added value for the target years. In other words, the model makes it possible to reconcile the supply of and demand for labour. The model is a logical whole, where each change results in changes to all other indicators. In addition to numbers, the model also allows monitoring development of different variables by means of diagrams.


A general term for philosophy of sciences, a more precise definition can be found in literature on philosophy of sciences. A field of science or paradigm which aims to explain human existence and which states that scientific research problems can be interpreted using comprehensive methods. Those methods are often participatory in nature and emphasise commitment.
Ihmisiin kohdistuvien vaikutusten arviointi (IVA)

Human impact assessment (HuIA)
Ihmisiin kohdistuvien vaikutusten arviointi (IVA)
Bedömning av konsekvenser för människan

Human Impact Assessment (HuIA) is a form of prospective (ex ante) assessment. HuIA is a tool for anticipating the effect of a programme, a project or a decision on human health and welfare. More information on HuIA in the website of the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (STAKES).



Image of the future
Tulevaisuudenkuva, tulevaisuuskuva
Framtidsbilder, framtidsimagen

An idea of a specific future state; a mental structure which is composed of understanding the present and the past, knowledge and interpretations, perceptions, beliefs, expectations, values, as well as hopes and fears. Images of the future affect decision-making and choices both on individual and social levels, both consciously and unconsciously. The positive and negative evaluations of images of the future are meaningful on individual and social levels as being motivating and activating factors. The impact is dialectic in nature or self-enforcing through contrasts: in the same way that decisions and choices made today influence the quality of the actual future, the tone of images of the future influences the content of choices and decisions. Such images of the future which represent future states that are impossible in reality are called impossible futures. Of possible futures, some present the best futures for a specific participant and are called desirable futures. For some images of the future, a specific estimate of their greater likelihood of coming true than others can be included and they are called probable futures. Possible, probable, desirable and plausible futures are important basic concepts in futures studies. The image of the future is also a description of some alternative future gained by using the methods of the futures table (FAR) with the help of variables. See Futures table.

Impact assessment
Vaikutusten arviointi, (impact assessment)
Konsekvensbedömning, (impact assessment)

An umbrella term for a wide range of assessment concepts, the most well-known including EIA, Social impact assessment (SIA), Technology assessment (TA), Risk assessment (RA) and strategic impact assessment. In addition, people also speak about integrated impact assessment. The common denominator for impact assessments is futures-oriented anticipation of effects, minimisation or prevention of adverse effects and impact monitoring systems. Part of sociopolitical planning at project and policy levels.

Indicator study

An indicator (in social sciences, economics and environmental sciences and in quality systems) is a parameter that describes the current state of affairs and trends. By way of example, the OECD measures the performance of educational institutions using 11 indicators, which suggest that the strengths of Finnish schools include good learning attainments, diversity of guidance counselling, diverse feedback from school stakeholders, high numbers of computers in schools and teachers" active participation in continuing professional development. Indicators are conventional and it is important that indicators selected for research purposes describe developments in unambiguous terms.

Industry class

Statistics Finland, for example, defines industry classes in its Guide to Classifications and Standard Industrial Classification section as follows: 'The Standard Industrial Classification arranges enterprises, enterprise-type units and establishments into classes that are called industry classes or, in brief, industries. The activities are similar when they are alike in terms of the commodities they produce, their production inputs and process. The industrial classification categorises enterprises, other organisations and individual enterprises into industry groups according to principal activity. The same kinds of functions or activities are grouped into each industry group. Principal activity means the activity which increases a unit's base-price added value the most. This definition of principal activity does not necessarily cover at least 50% of the unit's total added value.'


Linguistic information can be mediated and preserved as a coded signal or sign, which carries a meaning that can be interpreted. Non-linguistic or physical information is a quality included in all things, activities and phenomena and it can become visible in measurable information processes. This quality is composed of the order typical to things, activities and phenomena and/or of their inclination to behave in a certain regular way. Using some material object such as a glass surface as an example, one can immediately conclude that it includes information, because light is refracted from it. The information included in the glass surface determines the refraction of the light and it can be measured quantitatively. In other words, the amount and quality of information in the glass can be determined. See also Knowledge.

Information society

An information society is a society where production, dissemination and processing of information play a major role in economic and cultural terms. Related terms include 'knowledge society' or 'knowledge-based society'. 'In the information society, knowledge is the basis of education and culture and constitutes the most important production factor. Information and communications technology (ICT) promotes interaction and exchange of information between individuals, business enterprises, and other organisations, as well as the provision of services and access to them.' (National Information Society Strategy 1998).

Information society

A transition period in the process of the industrial society where Western industrial societies have arrived since starting in the 1970's from the historical point of view; also a form of industrial society created and organised by IT and the worldwide use of new scientific knowledge. Typical of the information society is the transformation of knowledge into material information and, based on that, a new kind of informational industrial activity, as well as a strong emphasis on the meaning of information in all production, products and services.


It is common to distinguish between ideas, inventions and innovations. An idea is a preliminary insight or vision of a new device or solution. An invention is a discovery that is not yet functional or commercially applicable as such. An innovation, in turn, is a novelty with practical significance. The path from an idea to an innovation is often long and winding.
An innovation may be construed as being an idea, practice or object that individuals consider to be new. Joseph Schumpeter defined innovation in 1934 as follows:
1. The introduction of a new good - that is one with which consumers are not yet familiar - or of a new quality of a good.
2. The introduction of a new method of production, which need by no means be founded upon a discovery scientifically new, and can also exist in a new way of handling a commodity commercially.
3. The opening of a new market, that is a market into which the particular branch of manufacture of the country in question has not previously entered, whether or not this market has existed before.
4. The conquest of a new source of supply of raw materials or half-manufactured goods, again irrespective of whether this source already exists or whether it has first to be created.
5. The carrying out of the new organisation of any industry, like the creation of a monopoly position or the breaking up of a monopoly position.
According to Schumpeter, innovations are the key driving force behind economic growth. New products and technologies introduced to the market and companies producing these challenge old products and companies, and the resulting 'creative chaos' clears the way for progress. In his earlier works, Schumpeter emphasised the significance of individual entrepreneurs, but subsequently switched his focus to the role of major companies and their R&D units.
According to the current view, innovations are characterised by:
• practical benefits (added value, economic significance, etc.)
• a broad base (products, processes, business models, social innovations, concepts)
• changing practices (user action)
• combination of different skills (combinatorial approach)
• clusterisation and concurrence.

Innovation capability

Innovation capability generally refers to actors' ability to develop their competence so as to achieve a significant competitive edge over other actors. Innovation capacity, in turn, refers to the ability to use and combine different resources as operating environments change. Based on these factors, an organisation's capability for innovation is thus made up of the ability to understand and perceive opportunities brought about by change and the ability to make use of its own resources and those available through co-operation networks forged with the right partners. In this context, the specific role of networking can be seen to be the intention to share and control risks 

Intangible assets
Aineeton pääoma
Immateriellt kapital

Capital is often divided into tangible and intangible assets. There is no unambiguous definition for intangible assets, but the concept often refers to all assets produced for a company as a result of intellectual capital, i.e. staff competence. Intangible assets consist of employees' abilities and innovativeness, information built within the company's structures and processes, corporate image, trademarks and intellectual property rights, as well as customer relationships and partnerships.


An investment is expenditure that has long-term effects and is expected to yield profit over a longer period of time. In its narrowest sense, investment means acquisition of capital, i.e. means of production or land, for production purposes. The purpose of investment may be to launch, increase or streamline production, facilitate work performance, reduce environmental burdens, or to comply with official regulations. A capital investment may also be intangible, i.e. intellectual or social (such as an educational investment). Such investments are controversial and difficult to measure. 


Repetition, renewal; for example, in mathematics, a counting method based on the consecutively repeated calculating operation where the result becomes more and more accurate with each repetition. Also the repetitive renewal and improvement of plans.



Job openings
Öppningar för nyrekrytering

Reveals the amount of new labour needed during the period of time under investigation in order to satisfy demand for labour. The number of vacancies arising. Consists of the change in the number of employed people and attrition. Usually equivalent to the concept of 'demand for new labour' in foresight.



Key to Expertise, (osaamisen avain)
Osaamisen avain
Kompetensnyckeln, (osaamisen avain)

The Key to Expertise (osaamisen avain) project was an ESF-funded anticipation project carried out by the Salo Region Educational Federation of Municipalities and the Turku Vocational Institute in 2003-2005, which developed an operating model enabling upper secondary level educational institutions to anticipate skills needs in business enterprises operating in their respective areas. The operating model is based on the idea that teachers conduct interviews with experts within working life, the resulting data is then recorded on an information system developed for this purpose and, finally, the data is analysed at the educational institution in co-operation with working life. The interviews conducted generate data for the information system covering both quantitative and qualitative data on business enterprises" current and future skills needs, demand for new labour and acute educational needs. Even though the operating model and the information system produce quantitative data, their main value lies in provision of qualitative information. Teachers are able to make direct use of this qualitative information on skills needs in teaching situations and when determining focus areas for educational contents.


A well-defined true belief of the character of some thing or phenomenon. See also Information.



LL model, LLM
PT-malli, PTM
PT-modellen, PTM

The Long-term Labour Force Model of the Ministry of Labour. A calculation model developed in connection with the Labour Force 2000 project, which allows estimation of medium- and long-term supply and demand for labour. The model covers both supply and demand sectors. Factors influencing supply include the population classified into five-year age groups, the labour force, people outside the labour force, labour force participation rates and working hours. Factors of demand used in the model include productivity by industry, fixed-price production, hours worked and the number of employed people. The balance of labour resources combines the supply and demand sectors. The time series of the model are annual. The model has been used as the analysis framework for the Labour Force 2025 project (the English Summary on the website of the Ministry of Labour), for example, and its regional application, the Regional LL Model, has been used in several regional foresight projects. Forecasts prepared using the LL Model have also been used as background material in national and regional projects to anticipate quantitative educational needs.

Labour force

The labour force is the sum of employed and unemployed people. (Source: Statistics Finland) 

Labour force method

A method used with a view to anticipating quantitative changes in demand for labour based on the needs of working life. The labour force method has already been used in Finland for many years to anticipate changes in the occupational structures of the labour force and of educational needs based demand for labour (the Advisory Committee for Educational Planning, KOSUNE, and, subsequently, the Anticipating Quantitative Educational Needs in Vocational Education and Training (MITENNA) model and ROS-model). The method often starts with industrial forecasts and then anticipates occupational structures for these. This results in changes in the figures for demand for labour by occupation (or, more commonly, by occupational group) over a certain period of time. When this is added to the number of anticipated labour attrition, the result is the demand for new labour (= job openings) in the occupational group in question. This, in turn, can then be converted into educational needs using the correspondence key between occupations and education.

Labour force participation rate

The percentage proportion of people included in the labour force in the total population of the same age: l = L/P × 100, where L is the labour force and P is the population. (Source: Statistics Finland)

Labour force survey

Description: The labour force survey collects data on participation in work, employment, unemployment and working hours among the population aged between 15 and 74. The data are collected with computer-assisted telephone interviews and the size of the monthly survey sample is approximately 12,000 persons. The data provided by the respondents are used to depict the activities of the whole population aged 15 to 74. A so-called ad hoc survey with an annually varying theme has been conducted in connection the Labour Force Survey since 1999. Read full description of labour force survey on the website of Statistic Finland.

Pitkä aikaväli
Långt tidsperspektiv

In terms of foresight, long-term is usually regarded as being over 8 years from the present time into the future. 



Keskipitkä aikaväli
Den medellånga tidsperspektiven

In terms of foresight, medium-term is usually regarded as being 3-8 years from the present time into the future. 


A great wave or line of development, a recognisable and coherent whole of phenomena which has both a clear history and direction of development. The direction of a megatrend cannot be determined by merely examining individual participants or units, but a megatrend is a wide whole of macro-level phenomena and descriptions of events, which includes several different and even contradictory sub-phenomena and chains of events (Trends). However, the whole is composed of all that can be seen as forming a direction of its development which is then thought to continue into the future as well. See also Environmental scanning.


A comparison used to refer to something else, something larger, or something more abstract than just where it literally refers to.

Michael Porter's diamond
Porterin timantti
Porters diamantmodell

The term "competitive advantage" was coined by Michael Porter in his work on firm-level factors and clusters of firms. It marks a departure from traditional economic thinking, which focused on comparative advantage. Essentially, comparative advantage is inherited (availability of basic factors of production, like cheap labour or energy, or natural resources) whereas competitive advantage is created. Looking back through the history of industrial development, one can perceive a series of firms, regions and countries busily creating competitive advantage. Sustained industrial growth has hardly ever been built on inherited factors. As a rule, is has been the outcome of interlinked factors and activities. With this technique combined with other futures studies methods, it is also possible to examine a future of a cluster.

Mind Map
Mind map, (miellekartta)
Mind Map, (tankekarta)

Especially used alongside the Futures Wheel. A Mind map is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlocking the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills - words, images, numbers, logic, rhythms, colours and spatial awareness - in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. The Mind map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance. 

Mitenna 2006
Mitenna 2006
Mitenna 2006

A project to develop a quantitative method and regional co-operation for anticipation of educational needs. The Mitenna 2006 project develops different phases of the quantitative anticipation process of educational needs in central and regional administration in support of implementation of the Development Plan for Education and Research (2007-2012). The project is based on experiences gained during preparation of the previous Development Plan from the calculation model of labour and educational needs and, more generally, from co-operation with the Finnish National Board of Education and its close co-operation partners (regional projects and the Educational Provision 2008 project). Objectives of the Mitenna 2006 project:
1. Development of the anticipation method
• reform of classifications
• more comprehensive inclusion of adult education and training as part of calculations
• analysis of the different parts of the anticipation method, charting areas for improvement and making any necessary changes
2. Improvement of the usability of the calculation model
• simplification of the model
• regional anticipation needs
• increasing the descriptiveness of reporting
3. Ensuring and facilitation of the maintenance of the calculation model so as to enable the Finnish National Board of Education to subsequently refine the technical aspects of the calculation model independently
4. Support of regional foresight so as to evaluate the current state of co-operation and promote development of co-operation.


To observe and follow the course of change. See also Environmental scanning.

Morphological analysis
Morfologinen analyysi (morfologinen = muotoa koskeva, muoto-opillinen)
Morfologisk analys (jfr. morfologi = formläran)

A technique or method aiming to systematically recognise all possible ways of achieving a goal. One approach is to create a list or Futures table of all possible variables in order to examine each individual variable and combinations of different variables. Often used as a tool for creative thinking.



National Education and Training Committees

National Education and Training Committees are tripartite bodies made up of the social partners. The chairs of the committees and the representatives appointed by the central organisations of employers and employees make up the National Co-ordination Group for Education and Training. The Ministry of Education appoints the chair and the vice-chair from among members. The role of the National Education and Training Committees and the National Co-ordination Group for Education and Training is to promote interaction between education and working life in co-operation with the Ministry of Education and the National Board of Education (Government Decree 1005/2000, Section 1). Their mandate covers: 1. upper secondary vocational education and training for young people and adults; 2. vocational further training and competence-based qualifications; 3. polytechnic studies and development of professionally oriented education provided by universities. The role of the National Education and Training Committees is to participate in development of vocationally oriented education and training through measures such as monitoring and anticipating developments in requirements of occupations and vocational skills within business and other sectors of working life and producing estimates of development in the amounts of educational provision based on demand within the labour market. The Ministry of Education invites a maximum of 10 members and a personal deputy for each member to sit on the National Education and Training Committees for a three-year term at a time. Committee members and deputy members must represent at least educational administration, teachers, employers and employees.

Networking skills

Particularly human relations skills and communications skills that are essential for working in networks.




An ESF anticipation project carried out by the National Board of Education between 1996 and 1998, which developed a systematic anticipation system and an anticipation method to determine changes in the educational and skills needs of working life. The method was tested in four fields using company surveys. The project was implemented in co-operation with the Finland Futures Research Centre. The project produced a final report published in 1999 and field-specific reports on testing of the method in the hotel, restaurant and catering field, the food industry, financing and insurance and building maintenance technology. The method can be used to develop the structures and contents of education and training in general and curricula in particular both at national and regional levels.

Occupation 2020, (Yrke 2020)
Yrke 2020
Yrke 2020

Anticipation of demand for Swedish-speaking labour and needs for Swedish-language vocational education and training and higher education. The Occupation 2020 project aims to establish demand for Swedish-speaking labour and needs for Swedish-language vocational education and training and higher education. The project is based on the Ministry of Labour's Labour Force 2025 anticipation project. The project is part of the national anticipation project of the Ministry of Education and the Finnish National Board of Education, which is preparing quantitative targets for the Ministry's Development Plan for Education and Research 2007-2012. Preliminary results are expected in the spring of 2007. The project will end in 2008. Anticipation of higher education is being co-funded by the ESF. The anticipation project is led by Senior Adviser Heidi Backman from the Finnish National Board of Education.

Occupation/education key; correspondence key between occupations and education
Ammattikoulutusavain, ammattien ja koulutuksen vastaavuusavain
Yrkesutbildningsnyckel, konverteringsnyckel från yrken till utbildning

When educational needs are anticipated on the basis of the labour force method, demand for new labour is converted into educational needs using the so-called correspondence key between occupations and education. This key provides a list of those education and training programmes for a specific occupation or occupational group that are believed to represent the future distribution of education in the occupational group in question. It is usually presented in terms of the percentage distribution of the labour force falling within the occupational group. The correspondence key between occupations and education is usually generated using historical data (statistics) on educational backgrounds within the occupational group as background data. The key is then supplemented with perceptual data on the likely future situation. The key may be quite target-oriented, deviating from the historical data, provided that the anticipator is able to give credible justification for his or her perceptions of future scenarios. 

Order (in chaos theories)
Järjestys (kaaosteorioissa)
Ordning (i kaosteorier)

The term comes from chaos theories, especially when applied to social sciences in this case. In the phases of stable development, the future can be thought of as being predictable, at least to a certain extent. An example of this is to take the moderately easy predictability of development in the 1950's and 1960's in industrial societies. Good predictability has often been connected with solid economic growth, the speed of which in a given period was faster than ever before or since in the history of industrial societies. Fast economic development presumed stability and continuity in central social institutions and predominant value systems. During periods of stable development, predictions were self-feasible through social target-orientation more than during the turbulent times which followed the beginning of the 1970's.




The PISA survey assesses the extent to which 15-year-old students command skills and knowledge that are essential in terms of the future society, development of the world of work and high quality of life, rather than their command of the contents of the basic education curriculum. According to the results, young Finns' attainments rank among the top in OECD countries in terms of mathematics, science, reading literacy and problem-solving skills. Read more about the OECD's PISA survey at the Ministry of Education website. 


A method to chart know-how and skills needs in small and medium-sized enterprises. The abbreviation "PK-OKA" comes from the Finnish words meaning "SME" (PK) and "skills survey" (OKA). The analysis chooses key enterprises from a specific cluster (such as the food, metal, wood and energy cluster), which participate in further selection of the most important subcontractor and accessory enterprises to be involved in stocktaking of core competencies and assessment of key technologies. This involves determining these enterprises" key occupations (such as managing director, product manager, metalworker) and their most important performance requirements (such as innovativeness, multiple skills, welding skills) throughout their operational chains, i.e. by function (such as management, marketing, R&D, manufacturing, storage). The information collected from different enterprises makes it possible to draw up a development plan for technology and know-how both in terms of each cluster (vertical perspective) and each skills area (horizontal perspective).


A basic theory/set of theories, an established assumption or way of thought, in the light of which a phenomenon is explained and which means that it is generally not needed to be explained or be proved again through research. Also a model or scheme describing a situation or value structure.

Participatory methods
Osallistavat menetelmät
Metoder för medinflytande (delaktighet)

The idea behind participatory anticipation methods is to involve stakeholders in discussion and planning and commit them as extensively as possible to various futures-oriented processes. The simplest form of such efforts includes various opinion polls and votes, while the best examples cover various futures workshops, Delphi panels involving several rounds, or planning seminars.

Patent analysis

Patented inventions are public. Patent publications have become the most significant source of technical information in the world. This source covers all different sectors of technology and it is also more exhaustive than any other single information source in both temporal and geographical terms. Patent publications describe new technological solutions and their applications in great detail and depth, even including problems detected in the field concerned. People can use this information in their own research and development activities to innovate new ideas. Patents can also be analysed from the perspective of social development, covering aspects such as the types of development paths that new inventions facilitate, the kinds of technologies that are emerging, or the types of patents that are being produced in different parts of the world.

Path dependence

As a general concept, path dependence refers to the fact that operating modes or structural factors cemented over the course of history extend their effects on current development situations. This often restricts, in one way or another, the range of choices concerning development that would basically be possible.

Perceptual knowledge
Näkemyksellinen tieto
Visionär kunskap

Perceptual knowledge includes both explicit dimensions and regularities from the past. It also includes knowledge of certain or almost certain facts (technical or natural sciences) and temporary facts (for example, statistical variety).

Person outside the labour force
Työvoimaan kuulumaton
Befolkningen som inte ingår i arbetskraften

Any person considered to be outside the labour force (including employed and unemployed people). People outside the labour force include groups such as pensioners, children, homemakers and the hidden unemployed. (Source: Statistics Finland)


A state of a phenomenon encompassing opposites and mutually exclusive features that is reverse, culminated, exacerbated. Chaos theory, in particular, uses the concept of polarisation to describe a situation where the features of a system become discontinuous.


A general term used in philosophy of sciences. Positivism is a philosophical movement which emphasises objectivity and typical of which are causal explanations, general laws, quantitative methodology and the unity of methods. According to positivist thinking, value objectivity and the methodology of natural sciences should model all scientific work. In that way, it aims to replace the concepts of social sciences, i.e. psychology and sociology, with the concepts of natural sciences. Logic positivism combines the objective of classic empiricalism to give knowledge grounds based on experience and the possibilities resulting from mathematical logic. According to the movement, empirical phenomena can always be explained through logical deduction: in order to make some proposition meaningful, it must be amenable, directly or indirectly to empirical testing. This leads to the positivistic idea of science being a set of hierarchical statements about some aspect or quality of reality. These statements are understood as being true and they also have to be empirically testable. A more precise definition can be found in literature on philosophy of sciences.

Possible worlds
Mahdollinen maailma
Potentiellt världstillstånd

A possible state of things in the future, which may come true. A way to the future which can be drawn on different paths from the present time and the characteristics of which can clearly be seen by retracing that path. The probabilities of possible worlds and the values and risks included in those vary. In philosophy, in the theory of so-called metaphysical theory of possible worlds, the concept is used to refer to all worlds that are logically possible in any universe, not only this universe where we live, because its logical possibility in a philosophical sense is different or wider than the possibility seen from the viewpoint of natural sciences and practice. Thus, a part of worlds which are logically possible are impossible in the natural sciences in the actual (existing) world, while a part of the possible worlds of the natural sciences in the actual world are impossible in a cultural, political, social, psychological or some other practical way. It can be thought that in the actions of systems, there are some in-built rules which determine their possible forms and future states and, at the same time, shut out impossible forms and states. In this way, possible worlds can also form the theoretical borders of the physical universe. See also Futuribles.

Predecessor analysis

A method used to examine the cultural development phases of a specific object. Cultural phenomena which are happening or which have happened in different societies at different times are compared with each other based on an idea that a culture which is slower to develop follows the same course as one which is seen to be more advanced.

Preparatory working group for the Development Plan for Education and Research
Koulutuksen ja tutkimuksen kehittämissuunnitelman valmistelutyöryhmä
Arbetsgruppen för beredning av en utvecklingsplan för utbildning och forskning

The Ministry of Education has set up a working group tasked with preparing the Development Plan for Education and Research to cover the 2007-2012 period. The preparatory group is making a proposal for launching the required investigations, drawing up a draft for the Development Plan for Education and Research and will submit a proposal for the plan, taking comments on the draft version into account, to the Ministry of Education by 12th October 2007.


A conscious readiness and belief in one's freedom to choose his/her own reaction to things or events taking place. Also a belief in one's possibilities to affect the future and that it just does not happen uncontrollably. See the opposite term Reactiveness.

Prognosis, prognostics
Prognoosi, prognostiikka
Prognos, prognostik

The anticipation and result of study into future possibilities; based on the Greek word "prognosis" meaning foreknowledge. In Eastern Europe and Germany, the term prognostics is often used as a synonym for Futures studies, futures research. See Forecast, forecasting, prediction.

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)



The straight continuation of past development into the future, based on certain predetermined assumptions or quantitative qualifiers. A projection can also be understood as being a prediction, if it is built on analysis of probabilities.

Prospective evaluation, ex-ante evaluation
Ennakoiva arviointi
Prognostiserande utvärdering

Prospective or ex-ante evaluation means that the state and quality of a phenomenon (thing, system, institution, activity) is evaluated not only in terms of the past and current state, but also in terms of a probable (trend) or some other possible image of the future. In other words, evaluation also targets the phenomenon's possible future state and alternatives. Prospective evaluation highlights evaluation of the objectives of activities. Methods used for prospective evaluation may include trend extrapolation based on probable trends, scenario methods, the soft systems methodology, the futures workshop method or Delphi interviews. See Trend, Scenario, Soft systems methodology (SSM), Futures workshop, futures studio and Delphi technique.

Prospective study

A synonym for Futures studies, futures research. Originally a French term defined by Gaston Berger relating to philosophical and sociological aspects of the 1950's and adopted into futures studies by de Jouvenel.




The labour force's vocational proficiency; qualification is a sum of the labour force's information, knowledge, attitude, willingness and intelligence as well as the work experience required for certain jobs and tasks. 

Qualification barometer

A system for mapping and analysing personnel qualifications and based on the use of a database. The aim is to inform officials, educators and organisations about changes and qualification needs at work. During the pilot process, 3,000 categories were evolved.

Qualitative foresight
Laadullinen ennakointi
Kvalitativ prognostisering

Qualitative methods are often employed where the key trends or developments are hard to capture using simplified indicators, or where such data is not available. In addition, various forms of creative thinking are encouraged by qualitative approaches. For many years, the development of qualitative methodologies in social science, as well as in forecasting and foresight, has lagged behind development of quantitative approaches and there has often been explicit or implicit reliance on an expert figure to pull together the strands of qualitative analyses and come up with a synthesis by more or less intuitive means. Over the last decade or so, this situation has improved considerably and a great many tools - often computer-based - for capturing and analysing qualitative data and processing and presenting results of such analyses have become available.

Quantitative foresight
Määrällinen ennakointi
Kvantitativ prognostisering

Numerical data, of many types, is useful for thinking about longer-term developments and, to a certain extent, it can provide useful ways of presenting Foresight results too. There are major advantages to using quantitative data, which it is why there is so much interest surrounding it. An ability to put information in numerical form means that: It is possible to manipulate information in consistent and reproducible ways, combining figures, comparing data etc. This allows much greater precision than vague discussions about increases/decreases etc. As an accounting tool, numerical data can help us to check for consistency in our forecasts and plans, so that, for example, we do not see ourselves spending the same money twice over, working more than 24 hours a day etc. It is possible to manipulate appropriate data in systematic ways to produce trend extrapolations and other forecasts. It can allow for comparison of the scale of developments in various circumstances (such as estimates of the numbers of people in different areas who might be suffering from a disease, be in need of housing, etc.). Such comparisons can be significant for decision-makers by helping them to validate or undermine claims from particular interest groups about the seriousness of their problems compared with those of other people, for example. It is possible to represent results in the form of tables, graphs and charts, which can often communicate a great deal about the topic of interest. Once the data is in numerical form, many different quantitative techniques can be employed in the course of Foresight. Many statistical tools are employed to determine the relationships that exist between variables and most good basic textbooks on statistics and data analysis will discuss these techniques and more fundamental procedures such as how to represent averages, trends etc.




Regional forecast of occupational structure (ROS-model). Read more about Ros-model on the website of Viestinhallinta Oy.


See Contingency.


A way of action where one has not prepared for future situations and events but only reacts once the situation has been reached. In a surprising situation, the degree of freedom to introduce resources is small: actions are chosen on a random and impulsive basis without consideration for their (long-term) impacts or consequences. See the opposite term Proactiveness.


A philosophical view according to which a theory or conceptual frame of reference can be restored or reduced into some other, earlier and/or foundational theory or frame of reference. Ontological reductionism claims that beings in two different areas are the same, semantic reductionism assumes that the theorems in two different theories coincide. As an example, we can take the idea of the states and processes of the human mind, which are often reduced to brain physiology. The opposite of reductionism is both the opinion which emphasises the independent position of human awareness and "Emerging" materialism, according to which the brain, the body or a larger system has emerging qualities that cannot be reduced. See also Positivism

Regional forecast of occupational structure (ROS-model)
Maakuntien ammattirakennemalli (MARE)
Landskapens yrkesstrukturmodeller (MARE)

See Ros-model

Regional foresight
Alueellinen ennakointi
Regional framsyn

According to Foren's "A Practical Guide to Regional Foresight" (2002), foresight is a systematic, participatory, future-intelligence-gathering and medium-to long-term vision-building process aimed at present-day decisions and mobilising joint actions. Foresight arises from a convergence of trends underlying recent developments in the fields of 'policy analysis', 'strategic planning' and 'futures studies'. It brings together key agents of change and various sources of knowledge in order to develop strategic visions and anticipatory intelligence. Regional Foresight is the implementation of the five essential elements of Foresight - anticipation, participation, networking, vision and action - on a reduced territorial scale where proximity factors become determinant.

Regional foresight co-operation groups (preparation of the Development Plan for Education and Research 2007-2012)
Maakuntien yhteistyöryhmät ennakoinnissa (Koulutuksen ja tutkimuksen kehittämissuunnitelman 2007-2012 valmistelu)
Landskapens samarbetsgrupper med i prognostiseringsarbetet (Beredningen av utvecklingsplanen för utbildning och forskning 2007-2012)

These co-operation groups are set up on the initiative of Regional Councils to co-ordinate regional anticipation of education and training provision. In addition to the relevant Regional Council, it would be advisable for the bodies involved in formation of a regional foresight view to include at least the region's Employment and Economic Development Centre, the State Provincial Office, education and training providers (one or more representatives from each level), representatives from the region's businesses and representatives from the social partners (labour market and business and industry organisations). This policy was outlined at a work meeting organised for parties involved in regional foresight in December 2005.

Regional innovation system
Alueellinen innovaatiojärjestelmä
Regionalt innovationssystem

The regional innovation system is made up of system-based connections between different providers of information (universities, research institutes), mediating organisations (private and public innovation services) and companies (small and large). For more information, see, for example, a Technology Assessment Report entitled "Regional Innovation Activities in Finland - Current Status, Significance and Developmental Challenges" by the Committee for the Future. The English summary is available on the website of the Parliament of Finland. 

Regional programme

Regional Councils are responsible for planning general regional policy within their respective regions and, for their own part, for implementation of this policy as well as for the international contacts involved. With this in mind, each Regional Council draws up regional development programmes and reconciles them with regional development measures carried out by the State's regional administration authorities; it presents objectives for development of regional infrastructure; it develops the framework for business activities to generate new enterprises and new jobs; it participates in reinforcing the regional economy in every possible way; and it improves the population's vocational skills. The Regional Council draws up plans and programmes in co-operation with state and local authorities and with businesses and organisations operating within the region. Programmes are prepared taking into account development targets and strategies, regional and industrial policy objectives set forth in the regional scheme and the environmental impact of these programmes. In addition to its statutory regional development work, the Regional Council also concludes programme agreements with state authorities, the business community and non-governmental organisations. These agreements present practical projects aiming to develop the region and determine the financial responsibilities of different parties. Programme-based regional policy can be carried out in different ways in different regions. Activities are focused according to the specific characteristics of each region. Read more information on regional programme on the website of the Finnish Regional Councils.

Regional scheme

Regional planning covers a regional scheme, a regional plan and a regional development programme. The regional scheme is the fundamental strategic document for regional development. It defines the objectives of the region's long-term development. A key task of each Regional Council is to create a regional development strategy, to maintain it and, where necessary, revise it quite rapidly in some cases. All other plans and programmes created to develop the region, including implementation of EU Structural Funds Programmes, are derived from the three documents mentioned above.

Relevance to working life in educational institutions' educational planning
Työelämälähtöisyys oppilaitosten koulutussuunnittelussa
Arbetslivsinriktade utbildningsplaner vid läroanstalterna

Upper, secondary level educational institutions have many different ways of exploring the types of skills required in working life at present and in the future. Educational institutions and representatives of different fields of vocational education and training monitor anticipation of skills needs carried out at national and regional levels. In addition, educational institutions also have a statutory duty to carry out anticipation work, which they fulfil in several different ways in co-operation with enterprises in their own area, in order to be capable of meeting the challenges of working life. Systematic study of skills needs enables educational institutions to allocate resources to those fields and types of education and training with highest demand on the labour market. Personal interaction between representatives of the business and educational sectors also makes it possible to plan and implement provision to directly cater for the needs of a specific working community.

Relevance tree
Beslutsträd som analysmetod

A method used in futures studies in which the research topic is approached in a hierarchical way. The starting point is usually the general description of the study subject and the exploration then moves on towards more and more individual and separate parts. The drawing of a relevance tree starts with definition of one "high-level" goal, which the participants want to examine. The goal is then connected with a sub-goal or goals and/or a mean/means with which the higher level goal becomes reachable. The relevance tree is composed of both goals on different levels and of the means to achieve them.

Relevance tree
Relevansträdet som metod

A method in futures studies in which the research topic is approached in a hierarchical way. The starting point usually is the general description of the study subject and the exploration then moves towards more and more individual and separate parts. The drawing of a relevance tree starts with definition of one "high level" goal, which the participants want to examine. The goal is then connected with a sub-goal or goals and/or mean/means with which the higher level goal becomes reachable. The relevance tree is composed of both goals on different levels and of the means to achieve them.

Research Model for Employment and Education Needs Survey (TKTT)
Työvoima- ja koulutustarvetiedustelu (TKTT)
Förfrågan om behovet av arbetskraft och utbildning (TKTT)

All the country's Employment and Economic Development Centres (T&E Centres) make use of the Research Model for Employment and Education Needs Survey (TKTT) and expert panel work in their foresight activities, in order to survey business enterprises' short-term needs (~2 years). In addition to employment and education needs and recruitment problems, these interviews provide information on changes in content areas and skills needs in key occupations within specific businesses and industries, as well as their age structures, enterprises' networking needs, outsourcing plans, their economic, investment and export outlook, spatial needs and R&D activities. Once the interviews have been conducted, the results are submitted for analysis and interpretation by expert panels, which consist of representatives invited from businesses, educational institutions, municipal development centres/companies, local employment offices and the regional T&E Centre. The panel prepares a SWOT analysis and makes concrete proposals for action with a view to solving any problems detected. The TKTT database has been integrated as part of the T&E Centres' customer relationship management system (ASKO).


Possibility of disadvantages. Can also be understood as being a value being/becoming threatened. Risk signals that possible moves are not unambiguously safe or dangerous. The amount of risk may be measured objectively and is thus composed of mathematical possibilities. See Risk assessment (RA).

Risk assessment (RA)
Riskin arviointi (RA)
Riskbedömning (RB)

Composed of the assessment and comparison of probability of damage, danger or unpleasant/unexpected consequences of some decision or choice. The amount of a risk in a certain phenomenon can be clarified using the formula Risk (R) = Probability (P) x Harm (H). The allocation of a risk is composed of both who and what is threatened and when that threat might become reality. Therefore, in futures studies, the formula can also be presented in the form Risk (R) = Probability (P) x Harm (H) x Time (T).

Road map
Road map
Road map (strategi och tillvägagångssätt)

A road map is a map of the projected future and anticipated changes that influence business activities. It describes market trends, changes in the company's operating environment and technological life cycles, which intertwine into concrete product line plans. Road maps are also produced for each industry and at a national level to show concrete ways forward for publicly funded research and technology programmes.




A mathematical curve presenting a phenomenon or variable, which initially grows at an accelerating speed, then slows down and finally only grows a little or diminishes.


Social Impact Assessment (SIA) explores the effects of plans, projects and programmes on people's living conditions, satisfaction and well-being. People are understood as being both targets of effects and active parties in planning. Social effects may become visible as changes in people's well-being (satisfaction, social relationships, and safety and security) or in terms of service needs (housing, amenities, employment, population and demographic structure, business activities). 

SOMA model

Assessment of the effectiveness of the welfare state makes use of the microsimulation model administered by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and Finnish National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (STAKES), known as the SOMA model. The income transfer system has been programmed into the SOMA model in the form of so-called law models, which make it possible to demonstrate reciprocal links between and the effectiveness of income transfers. By changing the programming parameters of the law models, the SOMA model makes it possible to analyse the effects of different changes to the income transfer system on income transfers based on the real-life population, and also to examine macro-level costs in rough terms. In addition, the SOMA model is used in various economic studies concerned with income transfers.

PESTE-analyysi, STEEP-analyysi
PESTE-analys, STEEP-analys

A method, mainly used for entrepreneurial futures studies, to clarify the social, technical, ecological, economic and political factors, state and future of a phenomenon or an organisation.

SWOT analysis
SWOT analys

A method of exploring the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within an organisation, such as a business.


A series of consecutive, logically proceeding, justifiable and possible images of the future; a story presented using images of the future can be understood as being a functional (active) manuscript stating the conditions for achieving the aim. A scenario includes a description of the participants, activities and a description of the sequence of events, decisions and consequences. This sequence of events leads from the present time to the chosen image of the future, which can be the vision, strategic objective or opportunistic aim. See also Futures path (futures trail) or Path for the future.

Scenario working
Scenarier som arbetsmetod

A group of methods to create scenarios; can include both quantitative and qualitative methods and combinations of these.

Sector of vocational education

Generic term which defines in general terms the status of education in society and working life. Wider term than the term covering field of vocational education and training. 

Lyhyt aikaväli
Kort tidsperspektiv

In terms of foresight, short-term is usually regarded as 0 - 3 years from the present time into the future. It can be questioned whether such a short period of time can really only be seen to cover the present.


The use of mathematical and/or computer-based models to trace the behaviour of processes or phenomena in the real world.

Social Impact Assessment (SIA)
Sosiaalisten vaikutusten arviointi (SVA)
Bedömning av sociala verkningar (BSV)

See SIA.

Social capital
Sosiaalinen pääoma
Socialt kapital

Social capital often refers to those dimensions of the social infrastructure - such as networks promoting community activities, norms of reciprocity and trust - which are considered to have a positive influence on interaction and co-operation between people and, consequently, on the functionality and economic development of society. When speaking about the "social capital", the perspective is that of community. In other words, the focus is on communities and their ability to work for common goals. Targets of analysis include relationships between participants, social structures, norms, codes of conduct and networks mediating these rules, as well as trust in them. See also Intangible assets.

Social innovation
Sosiaalinen innovaatio
Social innovation

The concept of a social innovation has been raised alongside technical and technological innovations - i.e. those relating to products, services and manufacturing methods. Social innovations are created when know-how is converted into new types of technologies, products and services or methods of work organisation that generate well-being and can be repeated and duplicated. Typical of social innovations is generation of added value. Social innovations may include new forms of collaboration, networks or new types of business models.

Soft systems methodology (SSM)
Pehmeä systeemimetodologia
Mjuk systemmetodologi

A method (or rather a tool) based on action research, resulting from the work of Professor Peter Checkland in 1985; remodelled in the late 1990's. The application of the SSM used in futures studies emphasises the creation of a connection between goal-setting, visions produced by futures studies and self-understanding of the present situation of decision-making units (for example, firms or communities). This information is then used to build insight into the change process which will help the decision-making unit to be prepared for different possible futures. 

Starting point

Time or starting point when anticipation starts. It is not necessarily the current time. It can also be a time when some time series or gathering of data has started, for example.

Statistical regression analysis
Tilastollinen regressioanalyysi
Statistisk regressionsanalys

Regression analysis is used to examine the effects of one or more explanatory variables on the dependent variable. It can be used to seek answers to questions such as whether the duration of education has an effect on the amount of salary earned, and if so, how strong this effect is. A specific advantage of regression analysis is that it makes it possible to analyse the effects of several explanatory variables on the dependent variable at the same time. This means that the results will reveal the role of one specific explanatory variable after the effects of other contributory factors on the dependent variable have been taken into account. Regression analysis is a versatile and flexible method to study causal relationships between variables.

Strategic scenarios

An ability/skill to create and maintain useful images of the future and use the insights and understanding arising from them in a beneficial way for the organisation. Strategic scenarios are synthesis from scenarios and no longer include the idea of many possible worlds. Instead, it demands commitment from strategic management.

Strategy map

A strategy map aims to describe the path from non-financial success factors to tangible results by illustrating an organisation's critical success factors and causal relations between success factors. A strategy map can be used to illustrate how increased motivation among employees improves the organisation's productivity and profitability or how an individual employee's actions are linked to the organisation's overall objectives. A strategy map may also be used to improve measurement of the organisation's performance.

Strategy, (futures strategy)
Strategia, (tulevaisuudenstrategia)
Strategi, (framtidsstrategi)

A whole of planning and management/leadership that aims at success for the participants and for achievement of the goals set, especially important for participants. Essential to Scenario working.

Supply of education
Koulutuksen tarjonta

In anticipation of education, supply of education usually refers to the number of people who are offered an opportunity to start studying a certain field. The concept can also be examined in terms of individual educational institutions or areas. One way of measuring the phenomenon is the number of entrant places, in other words, the number of study places available to new students. From the perspective of the labour market, people sometimes say that supply of a certain type of education is high, if a significant labour force with this type of education is available on the labour market. 

Sustainable development
Kestävä kehitys
Hållbar utveckling

Sustainable development is continuous and controlled social change at global, regional and local levels, with the aim of guaranteeing opportunities for a good life for current and future generations. Sustainable development encompasses four functional perspectives: the ecological, social, cultural and economic perspectives. Sustainable development means not crossing the critical limits (tolerance) of ecological, economic, cultural and social systems, while harmonising ecological, economic, cultural and social needs, objectives and practices. Read more about sustainable development in Finland on the website of the Ministry of the Environment


A group of things or parts which work together as a whole in order to achieve a common goal. Also a set group of ideas, theories and models of action according to which something is carried out. A system is composed of a limited amount of separate factors which can also form independent sub-systems. In order to determine a being as a system, there should be at least two factors connected to each other in one way or another. Between those factors and sub-systems, there are tensions and functional or organic connections which separate them from their environment. The higher a system is in the hierarchy, the more abstract and general it is. In itself, a system is more than a sum of its parts or sub-systems. This is due to the fact that its nature is composed not just of those parts, but also of processes between them, such as interaction, communication, change of energy and information. This is why a system is understood as being emerging. 

Systems analysis

Field of research which examines and analyses problems as wholes. Often uses mathematical modelling. Systems thinking and the whole of special methods developed from it like systems methodology, for example, form a way to understand the entities composed of perceived phenomena and events as well as their characteristics and relationships. With the help of systems analysis, complex dynamic processes can be examined without the need to separately determine, model and describe each single participant affecting the process in one way or another. Systems analysis is used to formulate the hierarchical order of the different factors in a system and thus increase understanding of the problems and problem groups being researched. Systems analysis can be used to support problem situations in real life. See also Systems theory and Systems thinking

Systems dynamics

1) A simplified description of reality; model or abstraction of a certain phenomenon. Combined with many chains of cause and effect, by means of which the elements of the model are inter-linked with the help of different feedback loops. 2) A set of modelling methods from which one can create non-linear models of complex wholes with the help of computers. See also World models.

Systems theory

A theory which explains the relationships between the elements of a specific system, as well as the relationships between the structures and functions of systems. See also Systems thinking and Systems analysis.

Systems thinking

The object being observed is understood and described as wholes, as "systems" to which one can determine recognisable borders, participants, activities and interaction between those. An open system is seen as being in constant interaction with its environment and it shares (gives and receives) information and energy with it. A closed system is self-sufficient. A system can be composed of sub-systems, it can be part of a larger system and systems can also interact with one another. See Systems analysis and Systems theory.



TE-centre (Employment and Economic Development Centres) foresight
Prognostiseringsverksamhet av TE-centralen.

Foresight is needed at TE-Centres in order to (1) recognise any relevant changes in business and working life, competences and technology as early as possible, (2) to influence the future so that the targets, goals and visions are made current, (3) to act proactively so that the recognised threats are avoided and possibilities are utilised, (4) to increase the effectiveness of the decisions and actions of TE-Centres, (5) to deepen the expertise and understanding in the regional business and working life, competences, technology, internationalisation and rural issues.
The foresight of TE-Centres is action, which produces knowledge about the trends, weak signals, opportunities and threats of the environment of TE-Centres and which evaluates the meaning and influence of these into TE-Centre targets, goals, decisions and services. TE-Centre foresight activity tries to recognise new business opportunities and changes in working life, competences, technology and social issues (threat of social marginalisation). TE-Centre foresight also produces strategies for regional business policy, labour market policy, training policy, technology policy, internationalisation and rural policy issues. Typical of TE-Centre foresight is (1) systematic and long-term visioning of the future, (2) connecting the threats and opportunities to decision-making, (3) networking regional participants and (4) open knowledge-sharing. TE-Centre foresight will support regional development, strengthen the regional innovation system and promote regional competitiveness and growth. In terms of TE-Centre foresight, this understanding is taken to strengthen TE-Centre expertise concerning forthcoming changes in industry, farming, the labour market, technology and competences and thus help to optimise the actions and measures taken by TE-Centres within these fields.

Työkalupakki, (TOOL-BOX)
Verktyg för prognoser, verktygsback

TOOL-BOX is a handbook for SME's in their futures work. In the field of futures studies, several different methods and tools for anticipation of future developments as part of strategic leadership and planning in the companies and other organisations have been developed over recent decades. In the TOOL-BOX, methods are specifically described from the viewpoint of small and medium-sized companies, SME's.

Tacit knowledge
Hiljainen tieto
Tyst kunskap

Personal, situational or issue-bound knowledge, which is difficult to express in words and communicate. An elementary part of Futures awareness. Knowledge can be divided into explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. While explicit knowledge can be expressed and measured in numbers and words, tacit knowledge is based on individual, personal activities, experience, ideals, values and/or emotions. Tacit knowledge can be divided into a technical dimension (i.e. know-how such as craftsmanship), and cognitive dimension, which is composed of a person's mental models, schemes and beliefs. Tacit knowledge is moulded through temporal, social and cultural communication. Its subjective and intuitive nature makes it difficult to process or communicate in a systematic or controlled way. The concept was developed by I. Nonaka in the 1990's. See also Image of the future

Technology assessment (TA)
Teknologian arviointi (TA)
Utvärdering av teknologin

All assessment methods for the social effects of new techniques, used to answer the needs of public decision-making on technology; to support discussions on technology, as well as to consider such things as values and attitudes in decision-making, which may be difficult to measure. Also the forum for public discussion on technology.

Third sector
Kolmas sektori
Den tredje sektorn

The third sector refers to a group of operators who have established their position alongside the private and public sectors. The third sector covers non-governmental activities stemming from citizens" own active involvement, willingness to help, needs to guard their own interests and the spirit of voluntary community-based work. The main difference between the private and third sectors is that the latter is based on membership rather than ownership. Third sector operators include sports associations, women's organisations, youth associations, senior citizens" organisations, special interest and expert organisations working for children, families or disabled people, nature conservation and animal protection organisations, residents" associations, activity circles and religious organisations. The role of the third sector is expected to grow and change over the next few years as the baby-boomers retire.

Time perspective

Individual or social orientation from the current time to a possible future situation or event; the time between the present and the possible future situation. The length of the time perspective depends on the future situation being orientated towards.

Time series analysis

A group of empirical methods used to analyse the previous course of development of the subject or phenomenon in question in order to draw conclusions on the direction and quality of development. The methods are based on mathematical or statistical regularities. The time series thus continues past and beyond the observation period. The methods are suitable for making forecasts on such periods, in which regularities can be assumed to remain unchanged. 

Toimiala Online (MTI)
Toimiala Online (KTM)
Näringsgren Online (HIM)

Toimiala Online ("Industry Online") is a statistics portal developed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), which offers plenty of information collected from different sources in a user-friendly form for use by the T&E Centres, four ministries and the Regional Councils. The service is subject to a fee.

Top Ten listing, Top Ten method
Top Ten listan

A method to examine and describe the ten most important factors of the future of a certain phenomenon, object or problem, Top 8 or Top 15 lists have also been used. The Top Ten descriptions can be qualitative and/or quantitative. The lists can be used for analysing Megatrends, Weak signals or changes in social structures and learning needs, as well as in cluster analyses, for example.

Tracking anticipation
Jäljittävä , ennakointi
Retrospektiv prognostisering, bakåtblickande prognostisering, framsyn

A method combining mathematical control of the basic phenomenon and the ability to devise the right questions. This combination makes it possible to track a trend that describes the needs of people requiring information. The purpose underlying this method is a direct attempt to produce a 'self-fulfilling prophecy' (cf. the Delphi or scenario method). A tracking trend is used to search for the individual factors and decisions that have influenced the trend. A tracking trend is a composite trend derived through questions, objectives and decisions, which a steering system uses as a compass and modifies as required. Decision-makers are given proposals for means to influence the future by implementing certain measures at critical turning points. The proposals can be made on the basis of statistical material. Anticipation aims to break trends through innovations, on the one hand, and to challenge, somewhat paradoxically, the picture given by the model in a positive sense, on the other. Anticipatory steering refers to a tool that makes it possible to achieve the desired state. The tracking trend is part of this tool.


(Social) unstable period between two stable phases. Period during which future development cannot easily be predicted using time series or other such methods. It is typical of these periods that the unpredictable and surprising interactions of things and events change the end result, thus increasing risk and uncertainty.


Direction of events and/or development. A general way of the long-term development of the phenomenon being studied.

Trend extrapolation, extrapolation
Trendiekstrapolointi, ekstrapolointi
Trendextrapolering, extrapolering

Continuation of development into the future by assuming that the phenomenon being studied changes along the same lines seen in earlier observations. The projection of information gained so far about development into the future along the same lines. A part of time series analysis in which the course of the time series is continued into the future or into the past with the help of observed regularities. See also Trend.




Ubiquitous computing refers to information technology that appears everywhere, functioning inconspicuously and embedded in its environment. A related term is "ubiquitous society".

Unemployed person

An unemployed person is any jobless person who has actively sought work during the last four weeks and who would be able to accept work within the next two weeks. Students, people laid off from work until further notice or people receiving unemployment pension may also be unemployed, provided that they satisfy the above-mentioned criteria for active job-seeking and acceptance of work. In addition, people waiting for commencement of agreed work within the next two weeks are considered to be unemployed. (Source: Statistics Finland)

Unemployment rate
Relativt arbetslöshetstal

The percentage proportion of unemployed people in the labour force: u = U/L × 100, where U is the number of unemployed people and L is the labour force. (Source: Statistics Finland) 


Comes from the Latin word "topos" meaning a place and the syllable "u" meaning negation. In everyday use, often an unrealistic and impractical action plan, or an intention for social renovation which appears to be very unlikely to come true. In futures studies, Utopia is used as a useful tool or concept to present a time and place located somewhere in the future and where things, which are now in a bad state, will actually be fine. See the opposite Dystopia.



Value bearers

The things and phenomena, which individuals or society regard as being valuable and which are given a symbol or quality definition. See Values.

Value chain analysis
Analys av värdekedjan

To analyse specific activities through which firms can create competitive advantage, in other words to model the firm as a chain of value-creating activities. The model is known as the value chain. Primary value chain activities (inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, sales & marketing, service) may be vital for developing competitive advantage. These are facilitated by support activities (procurement, technological development, human resources management, solid infrastructure). Once specific activities are defined, links between activities should be identified. A link exists if the performance or cost of one activity affects the performance or cost of another. Competitive advantage may be obtained by optimising and coordinating linked activities. It is often also used to ascertain the educational needs of personnel within an organization.

Value conflict

A disagreement relating to the values behind some phenomenon or thing which can lead to a stalemate in dialogue, if unresolved. See Values.

Value rationality

Action in a choice situation leading to the values being realised. In this sense, value rationality is a widened form of rationality which includes both the choice of goals (rationality of objectives rationality of goals) and the choice of means necessary to achieve those goals (rationality of means). Rationality of the value system is a point of view in which a human being is expected to have a system of values, which is internally consistent and according to which he/she has to act in order to be rational. He/she also has to be able to behave properly in line with his/her value system, when he/she makes necessary and crucial choices relating to socially presumed norms. See Values.

Värden och värderingar

It is difficult to define values unambiguously: 1) Aims, which are placed above conflicts and towards which an individual or society can orientate themselves, but which cannot be ultimately achieved. 2) A meaning which is given to a thing when it fulfils a need. 3) Active, non-objective, ethical symbols and quality definitions of the human mind (individual values) and moral codes maintained by society (social values). Conflict can occur between individual values, between individual and social values or between the values of various social participants. Values are the state and attitudes of ethical consciousness (good/bad, right/wrong, true/false, beautiful/ugly), which, together with knowledge and emotions, guide human actions, choices and deeds both consciously and unconsciously. From the point of view of logic and the theory of knowledge, values form a subjective opposite to objective knowledge. Values often present themselves in society as norms and prohibitions, orders, laws and directions, which direct actions and choices, but that are not values per se. Instead, values are more widely and often generally accepted starting points, on which and guided by which norms etc. are built.


In research material, a phenomenon, class or quantity which can result in different values; especially in futures studies, several values are possible in the future, any one of which may be the end result.


A general and shared conception of possible and desirable futures situations, which are based on the existence and values of an individual, organisation or other participants. A vision is thus a statement of possible and desirable images or incidents of the future, realisation of which requires active involvement and a change of activity patterns through learning processes. A vision can also be seen as being a participant's starting point to create a new concept for a successful future.

Visionary leadership and management
Visionäärinen johtaminen
Visionärt management, ledarskap

A participatory method of strategic leadership/management. The main feature of the method is to guide the leaders of an organisation towards creating a dynamic Vision of what the organisation may be like in the future and how it should change in order to achieve this. This vision is then permeated through all levels of the organisation. This is achieved by implementing clear strategic principles, flexible tactics and explicit understanding of the powers and risks which affect the future. 



Weak signals
Heikot signaalit
Svaga signaler

A synonym for Emerging issues. A phenomenon or incident which does not necessarily seem important as it happens nor is it large, but which might have an important or even decisive role in the future development process. A weak signal is often the first sign of change, or it can be the very trigger which changes the course of events in a decisively different direction. Its connection to the future situation cannot necessarily be based on statistically believable continuities, such as historical time series. Research into weak signals, as well as understanding of certain phenomena as such form one of the most challenging fields in futures studies.
Emerging Issues is often used as a synonym for weak signals. A phenomenon or incident which does not necessarily seem important as it happens nor is it large, but which might have an important or even decisive role in the future development process. A weak signal is often the first sign of change, or it can be the very trigger which changes the course of events in a decisively different direction. Its connection to the future situation cannot necessarily be based on statistically believable continuities, such as historical time series.

Wild Card
Villi kortti, (Wild Card)
Vilt kort, (Wild Card)

An essential change factor, which appears unexpectedly and changes the course of development to be uncertain. Sometimes used as a synonym for Weak signals.

World models

Large research projects, models and simulations, which have often been formed into computer models and which deal with development on a global level. These are often built of the communication relationships between the most important global variables (such as the population, ecological phenomena and pollution, economic growth, natural resources, etc.), and of the mathematical equations created from assumptions on their development. For example, the "Limits to Growth" report by Meadows et al. (1972) was a typical world model. See also Simulation.



Zero-sum game

A game where the accrual of profits equals the accrual of the opponent's losses. The aims of the players are opposite and the result of the game is that the sum of the gained profits (gains) and losses is zero. Often used as a metaphor to describe a situation (or risk), where the possible future profit to be gained will be lost because of the increase in costs, caused by increasing resources. See also Risk.