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Scan-4-Light: a Searchlight function horizon scanning and trend monitoring project

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PurposeThe current paper aims to present the Scan-4-Light study, which was conducted for the systematic scanning and analysis of the Searchlight newsletters as a rapidly growing collection of articles on trends and topics in development and poverty. Design/methodology/approachBuilt upon the concept of the systemic foresight methodology, the Scan-4-Light approach involves the integrated use of horizon scanning, network analysis and evolutionary scenarios combined with expert consultations and workshops. The study identified the emerging trends, issues, weak signals and wild cards; created high-value visualisations to emphasize the results and findings; and produced narratives to increase the impact and awareness of the development issues. FindingsThe Scan-4-Light project has resulted in a large number of specific outputs, providing the views of the Searchlight newsletters' contents at various levels of granularity. It has set out to show how the tools used here can be applied to illustrate the relationships among issues, and how these vary across countries and regions over time, and are linked to various stakeholders and possible solutions to problems. Research limitations/implicationsScan-4-Light demonstrates how foresight tools and techniques can be used for the analysis of complex and uncertain issues, such as development and poverty, in a systemic way. Practical implicationsThe Scan-4-Light approach can be applied in a number of areas for scanning and identifying emerging trends and issues, and understanding the relationships between systems and solutions. Social implicationsThe paper gives evidence that most of the issues, if not all, related to development are not isolated, but interlinked and interconnected. They require more holistic understanding and intervention with an effective collaboration between stakeholders. Originality/valueA demonstration of a novel scanning approach is presented in the paper.

Keywords: Development; Forward planning; Horizon scanning; Network analysis; Poverty; Project evaluation; Scenarios; Searchlight

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 2, 2012


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