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Abstract

The main objective of TAMI has been to create and promote a structured dialogue within the Technology Assessment (TA) community as well between TA experts and policy makers with the aim of improving the effect of TA in Science and Technology policy. TA in Europe has evolved significantly in recent years by experimenting in and developing new methods of assessing scientific and technological innovations beyond the classical expert-oriented approaches. The new methodological variety has created a debate as to the merits and disadvantages of each method which is still far from being conclusive. At the same time, there is a significant change in the manner by which policy is made in the area of S&T. Partly as a result of recent social debates on the consequences of scientific discoveries and partly as a result of the need to modernise policy structures in the area of S&T, there is considerable discussion on the way science and policy intermingle in the public arena (e.g. the issue of science governance). Part of this debate refers to scientific advice in policy-making and ways in which this relationship can improve and become more comprehensive. It is in this context that this project has functioned and provided some concrete contributions to the debate. TAMI involved a group of leading TA experts from major European institutes (including seven parliamentary offices of TA) who worked upon core-issues in European TA. The process included feedback sessions in which leading representatives of the policymaking community and industry TA took part in the discussions and provided their input in the project. TAMI revisited the definitions of technology assessment, method and impact in order to ensure a common functional understanding amongst TA experts. There has been agreement of a common definition of TA that reflects also the most recent developments in the European scene. Discussions on TA methods underlined the importance of the process of TA activities, such as scientific analysis, interaction and communication and suggested quality criteria for TA activities. Furthermore, work on the issue of impact resulted in the creation of a typology of impact, which identified 21 main roles or functions of TA where impact can be assessed upon. Every role further exemplified by the description of case-studies from around Europe. In addition, TAMI has explored a series of influencing factors affecting the functions and impact of TA. Issues investigated in detail are: the institutional setting (particularly in parliamentary TA), the effects of organised interests and lobbying activities, as well as similarities with industrial TA. Finally, TAMI has produced a series of specific recommendations covering the issues of TA assessment procedures, communication aspects of TA and trans-national collaboration.

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Authors

  • Ken Green

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