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Interactive Technology Assessment (ITA)

Interactive Technology Assessment aims at influencing the innovation process through early interactions between suppliers, users and parties affected. An Hybrid Working Group of about 15 people is formed after a sociological survey whereby worldviews are identified. The Working Group follows a process of deliberation on the issue during six to ten days on a period of six months.

For this you have to calculate an average budget of 100-150 000 euro (plus budget for video-taping and the assessment committee). The deliberation involves: definition of the frame of the problem; hearings; foresight exercises; and preparation of recommendations. The Working Group produces a report, which is delivered to the initiator and which should be made public.

Technology Assessment is generally performed according to the worldviews of promoters of technology. The participation of the parties affected by innovation in an interactive TA is required to influence development paths in a desirable direction.

ITA is more suitable in situations characterised by a high uncertainty regarding facts and value-dissent regarding technology-in-its-context. In such unstructured situations, ITA may influence the technology process through co-construction between users and producers.


In some points ITA may be compared to Consensus Conference since it requires a similar budget and time span. But: ITA is better suited for co-construction since it favours direct interactions between producers and users of innovation. Also this should favour the implementation of recommendations, which may better take into account technico-economic constraints. On the other hand, however, the Consensus Conference method performs better when techno-development lacks legitimacy and when it is necessary to engage in public debate.


The procedure

Step 1. Draw a contract between the commissioner and the project team

Step 2. Sociological survey of the worldviews

Step 3. Selection of the members of the Working Group

Step 4. WG deliberation (framing, hearing, foresight, preparation of recommendations)

Step 5. Reaction of the initiator and announce of decisions to be taken

Step 6. Assessment report



Working Group selection

The Working Group (WG) should include the diversity of worldviews of the population concerned by the issue at stake. Characterisation of worldviews may be performed by a qualitative survey which allows at the same time to identify potential members of the WG. The selection of the members is based on the use of socio-professional criteria as well as diversity of worldviews. Although using the same criteria, there are two main possibilities in the setting up of the WG:

- either invite representatives of formal groups,
- or invite individuals


In the latter case, the co-construction process may be deepen. However, the link between deliberation and action will be weaker. Members of a WG have to devote six to ten days to the ITA experience. It is essential that they stay on board from the beginning to the end of the process. It may be necessary to propose them an indemnity.



Actors

Commissioner – institution which calls for an ITA and which is responsible of the implementation of recommendations.

Project team – responsible for the ITA. Execution of the projects’ tasks such as developing the agenda, logistical issues, managing the hearings and the follow-up evaluation along with the necessary publicity. The project staff protects and preserves the integrity of the process.

Working group – is the core of the project. Members of the WG explore the issue in all the relevant dimensions, deliberate and make recommendations. The WG is composed of up to 15 members. Even if difficult, it is much better if the report is collectively written by the members of the WG.

Moderator – one moderator is necessary to assist the jurors’ deliberation and the decisional and recommendation process.

Assessment Committee – Its members are independent of the initiator and they have an acknowledged competence in participatory TA. The assessment committee prepares a report on the whole ITA procedure which is meant to be public.



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