Futures Research is an outgrowth of the Systems Approach
and Operations Research, and its principal aim is to facilitate
long-range planning. This is accomplished by forecasting from the
past supported by mathematical models, cross-disciplinary treatment
of subject matter, systematic use of expert judgment, and systems-analytical
approach to problems.
In the late 1960s to the early 1970s it emerged as a distinct field
of study. Unlike traditional disciplines, Futures Research attempts
to deal with social problems in original and novel ways. The three
primary goals of Futures Research are to form perceptions of the
future (the possible), study likely alternatives (the probable),
and make choices to bring about particular events (the preferable).
The principles of Futures Research include (1) the unity or interconnectedness
of reality, (2) the crucial importance of time, and (3) the significance
of ideas. Futurists do not view the world as a hodgepodge of unconnected
entities acting in arbitrary or random fashion, coincidentally interacting
without purpose or meaning.
Furthermore, futurists are not preoccupied with immediate concerns
although they do not discount them. Futurists tend to focus on time
frames of five years and beyond, believing that in most organizations
a time lag of three to five years occurs between making a decision
and its impact on the organization. Futurists also believe that
virtually anything can be changed in society's organizations, given
a lead-time of two decades.
Futurists subscribe to six time frames: