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Futures 34 (2002) 841–861 Planning of strategic innovation aimed at environmental

Futures 34 (2002) 841–861

Futures 34 (2002) 841–861 Planning of strategic innovation aimed at environmental

Planning of strategic innovation aimed at environmental sustainability: actor-networks, scenario acceptance and backcasting analysis within a polymeric coating chain

P.J. Partidario a, , Ph.J.

Vergragt b

a Department of Materials and Production Technologies, INETI, Estrada Pac¸o do Lumiar 22, 1649-038 Lisboa, Portugal b TUDelft, Faculty OCP, Section Design for Sustainability, Jaffalaan 9, NL-2628 BX Delft, Netherlands


This paper addresses a new way of influencing and stimulating technological innovations towards sustainability. Sustainability is operationalised as function fulfilment with a factor of 20 reduction on environmental burden over the entire lifecycle. The method, which is derived from the earlier developed sustainable technological development (STD) and SusHouse methods, includes future visioning together with stakeholder participation, followed by action planning. Future visioning has been carried out in workshops with all relevant stakeholders; action planning is also performed in workshops. As a case study a polymeric coatings chain in the Netherlands and in Portugal, has been chosen. Initially data has been gathered about production, environmental aspects, and technological innovations and applications; later inter- views with stakeholders have been carried out followed by the visioning and action planning workshops. The paper shows that the methodology works in a situation in which innovative activity is already under way, identifying new and unexpected ways of making the polymeric coatings chain more sustainable. It discusses further implementation of new ideas of func- tion fulfilment. 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Corresponding author.







0016-3287/02/$ - see front matter. 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 00 16 - 3287(02)00030-7

842 P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861

1. Introduction

In a system approach towards sustainability, a dynamic balance should be kept between ecological and socio-economic conditions, i.e. to take into account the needs of the present generation without adversely affecting the opportunities for develop- ment of subsequent generations [1,2]. While the regulatory process is becoming more stringent, non-renewable resources are still being depleted and environmental pol- lution is increasing. Therefore, shifts in technological systems are needed. Kemp reviewed relevant factors that hinder changing processes in existing technological systems [3]. Still, transitions require directions and conditions for acceptance [4] and particularly involving social management [5]. More strategic planning is needed towards a higher level of sustainable decisions and actions and it could be questioned how those directions can be generated in a structured way, so that transitions can be more easily planned and managed. To get more insight to solutions to this problem in an industrial context, a polymeric coatings chain is used as a case-study [6]. Through evolutionary patterns, product and process innovations in the paint and coatings industry are being driven primarily by regulation, product performance, mar- ket pressure and, increasingly, by public opinion. The relationships between environ- mental pressure and technological innovation can be conceptualised by evolutionary economics in which industrys innovation activity follows trajectories of technologi- cal development [7]. In the particular case of the polymeric coatings industry, related environmental issues are managed mainly in an incremental way, particularly because it involves a scale-intensive sector [8]. However, it is crucial that products and pro- cesses are designed to include more eco-efcient patterns (resources, emissions and waste management) developing into signicantly lower environmental impacts. This perspective regards in particular radical innovation, based on technology shifts within functions (same system concept, but improved performance of the same function) and systems (changing system concept/design). Although the future is not predictable, with decision-taking we are contributing to its shape, so it may be assumed as an alternative way to allow systems to evolve that its evolution might be steered. This strategy, to steer the evolution of a system assuming environmental sustainability as a main driving force, stimulates us to focus on long-term eco-efciency improvements e.g. achieving a factor of 20 in 2050 [9]. Scenario planning may be used for such a purpose. Depending on the precise application, an important feature of scenarios is to offer a set of exible future visions and the events leading there. Scenario planning has a wide typology available [10], based on how to establish a relationship between a scenario, the reality, and the values that drive denition of goals and means. However, aiming to stimulate the debate and to facilitate conversation on long-term changes, subsequent related prob- lem denitions do not have an explicit and tangible inuence on current economic activities yet. Also, required improvements may not t current lifestyles (i.e. cultural and structural conditions for implementation are most probably still absent). As Cal- lon [11] has shown, for each technological innovation, there are changes in the social context within which the innovation is applied, i.e. when designing a new transpor- tation option, it is also necessary to design its context of use. Besides the need for

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social acceptance of those changes, companies cannot afford them in a drastic way, as they involve a very high business risk (e.g. restricted markets, a restricted knowl-

edge base, loss of product quality performance, low return on investment). Therefore, scenarios may offer narrative forms (steps, actions and their articulation) to describe

a plurality of hypothesis, which frame the desired picture of evolution. That overall

picture, however, has to be bridged to the current situation, so backcastinganalysis [9,12] was chosen for that purpose, assuming a normative approach, where a set of desirable future outcomes are dened beforehand, and their feasibility worked-out

based on the implementation of short-term actions. A main research question could then be What strategic changes should be assumed and which conditions should be fullled in a specic system in a pre-dened long-term range of time, in order to steer short-term steps towards more sustainable paths?The main goal of this research is to design and test a methodology to support new innovation networks and more sustainable industrial products and processes, taking the polymeric coating of cars as a case-study. New problem denitions, within a more environmentally sustainable production and consumption system of coatings, will certainly offer key elements in the build-up of new innovation networks and technological trajectories. It is important, therefore, to understand the conditions that will enable and support long-term innovations. This is necessary in order to:

1. Stimulate the role of current/future social networks to overcome this unstruc- tured problem;

2. Clarify subsequent uncertainties, values, knowledge, information needs, in order to respond to interim pathways, that may lead to common platforms of support; and

3. Identify key actors and build their, and other stakeholders, commitment.

Within this particular product chain, this paper describes recent ndings on the construction and evaluation of scenarios addressing function and system innovation with stakeholder involvement, regarding in particular: (i) clustered solution direc- tions, derived from ltered ideas previously produced on designed creativity work- shops, to work as platforms for strategic information and dialogue among key stake- holders; (ii) a scenario building and evaluation process.

2. Method

The current methodology draws from experience within the Dutch sustainable

technology development (STD) program [13] and EU SusHouse project [14,15]. The uncertainty and complexity of the innovation process, when addressing more sus- tainable goals within industrial activities, requires a strategic problem orientation and the development of working methodologies. The polymeric coatings chain used as

a case study focuses in particular on surface protection of cars (OEM; renishing)

within two different national innovation systems (NL; PT). There is a primary net-

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work having the following chain elements: the production of raw materials and resources, the paint manufacturing, distribution, use/consumption, and end-of-life processing (waste management). Both countries currently have: (i) A paint industry including eight paint producers operating in the car (re)painting market segment, and (ii) automotive painting activities (four car manufacturers). This focus is justied by the economical and environmental relevancy of both industrial branches and their relationships within current supply chains. In order to achieve drastic changes in production and consumption patterns, it is desirable to generate new ideas and creative solutions using an interactivity based process of social networking. Interactive construction of scenarios, as practised in this research, is derived from that approach. Following a step-by-step iteration pro-

cess between development levels and evaluation levels, towards practicable technical options, all iterations are worked out in an interactive way involving the identication and enrolment of key stakeholders from different societal groups (industry, S&T units, government, consumers). Looking ahead to the build up of a consistent long- term view based on the cooperation and consensus between key stakeholders, and at networks developed around problem denitions, it thus required rst, the identi- cation and enrolment of experts and chain stakeholders in both countries. Meetings and interviews were held to discuss current environmental problems, as well as future eco-efciency requirements and mid/long-term innovation issues. Running a ques- tionnaire within the coating and resins producers enabled us to get more insight into the present situation and current industrial approaches on environment and tech- nology, as well as expectations about trends. Later, to enhance creativity within problem solving, two creative workshops were performed as an interactive platform for sharing strategic information, for brainstorming and dialogue. In each workshop, the overall group was not homogeneous, thus, including a wide range of mental frameworks and values, offering opportunity for societal learning processes [16]. Having a normative orientation i.e. the need for high levels of eco-efciency to full SD requirements, the rst round of workshops (1st WS) included different levels of brainstorming in order to get social and technical input, and not just an expected/desired acceptance behaviour, considering the different perspectives in the chain and the build-up of shared goals and desires. This process enabled the gener- ation of ltered ideas that were used afterwards in scenario building. Scenarios have

a key role in a broad design process. They consisted of narrative forms sketching

solutions from needs, as future products/services proposals within a backcasting analysis from the year 2050 to the present. The assessment of scenarios was performed using an abridged tri-dimensional method, as described by Partida´rio and Vergragt [17]. This approach was developed on the basis of a matrix method adapted from Graedel [18], plus assuming evaluation

of sustainability on the basis of a set of three assessment dimensions: environmental, economic, and societal. Impacts were assessed through a set of pre-selected indicators distributed in ve broad categories, that encompass main stages of the product lifecy- cle. This method uses expert judgement drawn from the integrated chain, providing

a relative numerical end point. It is supported by a numerical scale of relative judge- ment, supporting the building of an overall rating (0100%) to measure expected

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improvements, enabling direct comparisons among related rated systems. It aims to give insight into the strong and weak points of each scenario, and possible improve- ment directions. On the other hand, it avoids condential information disclosure to external sources, and overspending resources, when compared with conventional LCA. Scenario acceptance was rst pre-tested through expert interviews, and then dis- cussion was broadened to check their coherence, credibility, acceptance and also to ne-tune them. So a validation process, where both old and new actors were brought together, was performed through a 2nd workshop series (2nd WS), anticipating the identication of shared solution directions and complementary effects. Stakeholder awareness, and networking between key actors, are key issues in enhancing creativity within more environmentally sustainable production and consumption patterns. It is also assumed, that to progress towards overall eco-efciency levels of a factor of 20 in the long-term, and due to a co-evolution pattern of current technological, struc- tural and cultural conditions, breakthrough innovations are required where the sub- sequent learning curves need a protective environmentthroughout their rst stages. Inspired by the SusHouse project [14], this process included two basic stages: The identication of necessary changes to formulate action plans (Bridging Gaps I-BGI); and the characterisation of conditions for implementation, moving backwards from 2050 (BG II). During BGI, stakeholders (old and new to the process) were invited to react to those scenarios in order to check/measure their credibility within the different groups (different ideas, opinions and value scales), and to ne-tune them iteratively if necessary. This feed-back step is of key importance in scenario building, though it is unlikely to integrate all the creative ideas and values that were generated, in particular during the 1st WS. This validation step enables us to identify which (f)actors are relevant to make each scenario attractive, including conditions for each key actor/stakeholder groupsacceptance. The aim is to identify opportunities, short/mid-term technical steps and conditions/barriers for implementation action that can lead specic co-operation between stakeholders to concrete projects. During BGII, back-casting is performed after scenarios evaluation through the following methodological steps: (a) to look backwards, from the proposed normative scenario, modulating/regulating the feed-back of stakeholders; (b) to identify gaps in needs- fullment and subsequent innovative sustainable trajectories in a context of complex social changing process; and (c) to ne-tune the design process focusing on dening/formulating concrete outcomes, and stepwise short/mid-term actions within an activity agenda, to contribute to the desired needs-fullment within function and system innovation.

3. Results

3.1. The paint chain and main environmental impacts

The boundaries of the paint chain under research, as well as the identication of key stakeholders, were characterised in Partida´rio and Vergragt [6]. The involvement

846 P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861

of stakeholders enabled us to look into research objectives, attractiveness and feasi- bility conditions from different viewpoints in the product chain, then to prepare to broaden both the design process and its subsequent validation in the next working step. As structures determine actions, and as rules and subsequent behaviours are followed by new actions [19], a particular attention has been given to different target groups, and to the interaction between those stakeholders having different scales of values and therefore different kinds and levels of involvement. Although several actors are playing a key role within this global innovative process, more attention was paid to: government, industry (including the branch association and the employers federation), the applicators/consumers and R&D Institutions, which have to co-oper- ate in a very tight setting. The degree of responsibility, for each, is different in the long-term and short-term. Due to the technical content required within scenario build- ing, a specic focus was given on the paint production, and on industrial consumption in the automotive industry. In the paint industry (1998) about 24 million tons of paint were consumed in the world [20], of which 28% was on the North American continent, followed by Europe (27%) and Japan (8%). Although consumption in more industrialised countries has been stagnating in recent years, emerging economies will exhibit paint consumption growth rates in proportion to their overall economic growth. Estimated growth of paint technologies, particularly in Europe, exhibits an interesting shift with low solids solvent-based paints having a sharp declining trend since 1990 [21]. On the other hand, high solids, waterborne, reactive systems (e.g. 2-component products), radi- ation cured, and powder coatings are expected to keep their growth. However, despite the increasing use of powder and waterborne coatings, environmental problems per- sist and emissions in absolute terms have remained practically constant in recent years. In fact, to achieve a sustainable breakthrough it has to not only be competitive compared to other coating technologies but also include eco-efciency factors like the use of material resources and primary energy consumption. The automotive industry is the largest industry in the world, and a powerful stake- holder in the paint chain. There is an estimate of 523 million cars on Earth, and it is expected to achieve about 1 billion units by 20202030 [22]. Due to current cuts in production costs, and market saturation in the industrialised countries, the major global automotive companies are expanding into emerging economies. In fact, 85% of direct foreign investment in Asia, East/Central Europe, and Latin America comes from European, Japanese, USA and South Korean car manufacturers. The trend in the car chain has few suppliers providing systems or modules, instead of many suppliers furnishing components. Thus for car manufacturers, this means a transfer of responsi- bility and change of focus, obtaining services on a global scale. The main environmental impacts identied in the polymeric coating production are described in Partida´rio and Vergragt [6], having been extended to the product chain. Contrasting with the small amount of paint used on an average car (45 l), which after application accounts for only about 34% of the overall cost of a new car, the painting function in car manufacturing is recognised to consume disproportionate energy. Depending on car size, it is ca 16% of the total primary energy consumed in the overall car production process [23]. It also produces considerable pollution

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(2002) 841861


levels e.g. solvent emissions often exceed 10 kg per car. This situation is still more absurd if we take into account that: (i) a paint facility within a new automotive production plant, accounts for more than a third of the overall plant costs [24]; (ii) further down the product chain, for individual mobility, there is an inefcient use

of privately owned cars in western societies-cars in NL are used daily only for about

72 min on average (comparatively, ca 180 min in PT), therefore not having an exten- sive use, and occupying a lot of space on highways and in parking places which are becoming increasingly scarce in crowded urban and suburban places [25].

3.2. Scenario building and assessment

Clustered solution directions were derived from ltered ideas, which resulted from

a multi-actor interactive and iterative process (creativity workshops, interviews).

Actors enrolled in this process consisted of: the coating industry, resin industry, material suppliers, car industry, university, independent research (incl. vegetable oil research), government (environment; economy), users/consumers, and branch associ- ations. Those clustered solution directions were input starting points to develop three long-term oriented scenarios (Table 1): SusCoats(environmental sustainability of paints and coatings), EverLasting Surfaces(no polymeric coatings at all), and Going Incrementally(business as usual). They describe general atmospheres of future images, each one focusing on a set of changes including related products and services, that together enable us to approach a more sustainable production and consumption of coatings within the chain under focus. Taking each long-term scenario as a starting point, and moving backwards from 2050, three interim leap-frog jumps were also performed, though not fully rep- resented here due to length limitations. They were built as coherent sketches about the future and, in particular, about the role the paint chain is expected to play in it, contributing to a framework on promising system/function design strategies. They may also contribute niches having long-term potential to develop into key useful innovative technologies, products and more efcient and economic practices. Thinking ahead to the discussion and evaluation of scenarios within the 2nd WS, new insight about each scenario was obtained through an environmental, social and economic assessment process. Based on main assessment dimensions of life cycle approach, results were obtained as represented in Fig. 1(ad), considering the case of a polymeric coating applied to generic average cars, as a functional unit. Scenario 0 (Fig. 1d) was introduced, representing the current situation. Taking for instance the environmental, social and economic assessments of the current situation, it enabled a comparative analysis of the relative relevance of the different life cycle stages on the specied assessment dimension (Fig. 2). That analy- sis was also performed to compare similar stages between scenarios. In each axis, the difference to full scale reects the opportunity to perform new eco-efciency improvements. If a comparative assessment is performed stressing a specic environ- mental indicator throughout a lifecycle stage, it is also possible to compare eco-


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Table 1 Main characteristics of Scenarios (1/2)

Sc1 SusCoatsscenario: core idea focus on the environmental sustainability of polymeric coatings for industrial products (e.g. cars), and on its functions as protection, aesthetics and/ or information carriers. Main highlights are as follows: (i) breakthroughs are assumed; (ii) highly consumer oriented production; (iii) sustainable production and consumption of coatings; (iv) full recyclability of coatings (e.g. foil systems); (v) tness for purpose; (vi) productservice integration; (vii) reducing surface coating outside the chain; (viii) changes on ownership concept and on consumption patterns. Insights for the period from year 20502025: Highly customised services context, depending largely from internet with a fourfold effect: the product life-cycle shortened; production and liabilities costs reduced; quick access to information (decision-taking); one-to-one marketing. In the automotive sector, cars are fully recyclable, and manufacturing and assembly processes have an higher level of integration within product chain. Transportation functions are service integrated and sold instead of cars. Car producers manage the all product life-cycle. In polymeric coatings industry, car coatings life time is designed to adjust to an easier application/ repair, and the changing values outside the production chain, regarding product ownership and use, resulted in a deep shift from individual car use to public/shared transportation and non-polluting alternatives. Function and product developments enabled to achieve factor 20 in eco-efciency (95% reduction, referred to 1998 levels). Reductions focused on components, structure, and system levels. Modications on the coating life cycle are ecodesign based, from raw material supply (from C to Si based resins) to the coat end-of-life processing (recycling separately from the metal phase). Sc2 EverLasting Surfacesscenario: core idea focus on the environmentally sustainable tness for the purpose of surfaces regarding industrial products (e.g. cars), with minimum needs (no polymeric coatings at all). Main highlights are as follows: (i) breakthroughs are assumed; (ii) highly consumer oriented production; (iii) the minimalist fully recyclable metallic car; (iv) the plastic car 100% recyclable with exible colouring; (v) highly complementary intermodal transportation; (vi) the city without cars; (vii) changes on ownership concept and on consumption patterns. Insights for the period from year 20502025: main context is a de-materialised society, highly internet based and new product-system requirements dening emerging market niches. There is a functional orientation near the consumer, instead of a delivered product. In-built energy and material efciency in products are important items throughout product lifecycle. Car producers control car life cycle (100% recyclable, highly customised, based on metal/non-metal structures on the chassis and body, being not painted at all, but coloured with pigmented thermoplastic panels easily removable/ replaceable), and have a business portfolio, where a hard product orientation is increasingly being replaced by transportation services. Transportation is based on cars being leased or rented; taxis (individually, shared) and multi- modal public transport systems. The pattern of demand from car consumers looks for comfort, and to the easiest way to move from one place to another. Manufacturing have a higher level of integration with suppliers. Main existing strategies are the following: (a) the improved metallic car with minimum needs and no paints necessary (assumed a life-cycle duration of 810 y); (b) the plastic car based on advanced polymer application and built-in aesthetics; (c) the city without cars as an alternative for new transportation systems and reduction of trafc/space congestion. Factor 20 improvements on ecoefciency were achieved (95% reduction, referred to 1998 levels). (continued on next page)

efciency oriented improvements already implemented (or expected on Scenarios 1, 2 and 3) on the basis of a full score in each column, and its relevance for each stage.

3.3. Scenario validation and implementation

Proposed scenarios previously tested during expert interviews (paint industry; sub- strate manufacturers) introduced to this workshop a variety of ideas to stimulate discussion between the different parties.

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Table 1 (continued)


Sc3 Going incrementally

base-line system where improvements addressing to industrial products (e.g. cars) are being achieved just by incremental innovation. Thus, there is no room for radical innovation. Main highlights are as

follows: (i) stepwise incremental changes are assumed; (ii) increasing mass production; (iii) enhancing SHE in coatings production; (iv) pollution reduction at the source; (v) increasing ecoefciency in coatings production through the selection of low impact materials, and lower intensity on material/ energy content on products; (vi) introducing tness for purpose; (vii) reduced impacts during use; (viii) optimisation of product end-of-life, and design for recycling. Insights for the period from Y 20502025: higher functionality (use efciency) of personalised products, supported quick manufacturing to customer specications. For car industry, once this is a daily reallity, the challenge

is to nd ways of delivering niche-products at affordable prices. This is requiring, on the other hand,

a high level of integration with suppliers. De-materialisation initiatives are largely addressing to lower

fuel consumption, and better process and cost reductions on recycling (product life cycle control) to control valuable materials/modules, but also a chain of higher value services on individual transportation (still increasing) where productservice integration is exhibiting barriers on values of ownership, or translating from hard product to service producers. In the paint industry, main strategies identied are: (a) coatings tness, and their use on metallic substrates (redesign on purpose); (b) eco- efciency improvements (powder and rad-cure coatings based), considering: (b1) use of low impact materials e.g. no solvents use; renewable materials; less colouring; (b2) reduce material intensity e.g. reduction of complexity on colours; de-complex coating systems; thinner layers on coatings (electrophoresis; plasma); fewer number and function integration on layers (nanotechnology); adding more functions to adhesives (information); coating before processing/ assembly; (b3) optimisation of production techniques; (b4) optimisation of distribution systems; (b5) reduction of impact during use e.g. lower consumption, few additional materials; (b6) Optimisation of initial life-time e.g. increasing durability, reliability, adaptability, service repair, enable metal-based products not to require organic

coatings any more (e.g. non-ferrous space frame constructions); (b7) optimisation of end-of-life system (e.g. reduce the amount of materials dispersed or lost by nal dispersion, increasing the proportion of materials recovered, reused, re-manufacturing, and/ or recycled).

as usual !scenario: is trend following (business as usual), dening a

Focused on a central need, the workshop lead to a discussion of what each option meant for the group, and what individual responses should be within a multi-organis- ational learning process. It also enabled us to get insight on conditions for collective commitment and barriers to future implementation of such activities. While creativity brainstorm sessions enabled the construction of normative scen- arios from the ideas/directions generated, the 2nd WS consisted of a new round of group interaction to evaluate the content of scenarios, discuss their potential and possible improvements, and to have a reection on concrete strategies by reasoning backwards from the future visions to the current situation. Stakeholders were brought together in the 2nd WS to:

1. Discuss and evaluate the viability of those scenarios, gauging their receptiveness;

2. Get insight on goal-sharing, through a backcasting process, and on conditions for co-operation and the implementation of R&D projects;

3. Exchange opinions and constructive feedback according to their background and ne-tuning existing elements of the scenarios;

850 P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861

Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841 – 861 Fig. 1. Environmental and socio-economic assessments

Fig. 1. Environmental and socio-economic assessments for different innovation scenarios (ad), address- ing to a polymeric coating in average generic cars.

5. Identify who shares and is able to contribute/carry out those actions accepted within scenarios on the basis of co-operation frameworks; 6. Identify opportunities, barriers and conditions for action implementation (technological, socio-economical, cultural) of such an agenda.

With the main focus on implementation, the discussion among the participants, and the subsequent assessment results, were the outcome of a process which builds on the individual and joint reection throughout the debate. The aim is to build congruent meanings among the actors for whom the meaning of the artifact under focus plays different roles. The paint industry needs to deliver better layers. Substrate industries need to deliver better surfaces. Car manufacturers need to produce cleaner, safer and more comfortable vehicles. Government needs to have strategies for more sustainable activities in order to develop adequate policies. According to Guba and Lincoln [26] with fourth-generation evaluation, to build congruent meanings for instance in policy analysis, that is rst conditioned by the perceptions of reality related to the different groups of actors involved in the policy area. The evaluator then tries to discuss and establish, in the context of a joint action, a meaning for the policy outcomes within these perceptions of reality (dependence on overarching theories and appreciative systems). So, in the paint chain, co-operation was used as a key issue, and backcasting as a tool to stimulate working backwards iteratively. Assessment results were used as input starting points for further discussion about: (i) shared long-term goals, and a subsequent backwards-like planning process; (ii) insight on interim development stages and operational conditions to be fullled, in order to achieve them.

P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861


Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841 – 861 851 Fig. 2. to the different lifecycle

Fig. 2.

to the different lifecycle stages.

Assessment of current situation, according to the three main dimensions (ac), giving emphasis

Considering the research question How to encourage successful interaction among different communities ?, through the 1st WS stage the methodology provided working ingredients on a socio-technical basis, for further interaction among actors in the chain. The aim of the next stage for group interaction was designed to promote effective discussion on concrete actions and their implementation. So, different pro- fessional communities were brought together again, for a 2nd WS and follow-up meetingsindustry and branch associations, university, independent R&D, govern- ment. Addressing the question How to get consensus about the long-term issues ?, it was observed that having identied in the 1st WS shared future visions and back- casted long-term options for changes in the supply chain, a normative approach in the 2nd WS supported by backcasting analysis is very useful, giving us insight on conditions (i.e. a howquestion) under which those future options may be achieved. However, coalition building abilities are very important at this stage based on if:then approaches with the assistance of a facilitator. Addressing the questions How can it be possible to perform an identied plan ?and Which tools would be required ?, creating a discussion forum produced a set of shared meanings about a main technology or policy outcome, enabling us to

852 P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861

negotiate the different meanings of the outcomes among the involved groups of stakeholders. Selection criteria included the ability to discuss long-term oriented issues, on research, management and policy perspectives. As such, the panel-list involved old and new participants to the process. The importance of the invited participantspro- le, and the criteria for forming the working groups, recognises the dependency of coalition forming with involved frames of meaning. That dependency also justies the debate organised by subgroup forms used in BGII, to ne-tune the match between the different professional groups involved. As referred to by Grin and van de Graaf [27] e.g. a policy (or technology) coalition has relatively good opportunities for identifying and reaching congruent meanings within policy area actorsthose actors that will be involved on the assessment discussion about implications for action and implementation. This is the rationale for idea triggering in BGII, where protection- related functional layers (adding-on material) are replaced by a combined effect transferring the protection functionality to the substrate itself (requiring a shift to more corrosion resistant materials) and adding value instead, through extra func- tionalities like the case resulting from BGI discussion: the energy supply by photo- voltaic cells displayed within an external thin lm. Coalition ability is very important for goal achievement. However, before that happens, two other conditions have to be fullled among key actors: to build trust, and to agree on basic values. For such purpose, let us consider the four levels of argument used as proposed by Fisher, referred to in Grin and van de Graaf [27], there are two orders of discourse, and two levels of argument in each order. Just on the basis of a 1st order of discourse, the frames of meaning for the three groups of actors, having set and translated their objectives regarding a technological artifact, is in general the following: (i) techno- logical perspective: identifying development paths and performing R&D; the mean- ing of an artefact inspires development paths; (ii) management perspective: giving assignment and exploring the necessary functional units; the artifact is a solution to a challenge facing the company; (iii) policy-making perspective: dening causal means-end chains, reecting the expected contribution to perform the set objectives; the artifact obtains its meaning from the perspective of its contribution to the solution of the perceived policy problem. As stressed by Grin and van der Graaf [27], among a pool of actors operating with different meanings, sharing those meanings is not necessarily required for coalition effects and joint action, provided that there exists an artifact that incorpor- ates the diversity of meanings involved. Therefore, making the transition from 1st WS to 2nd WS, to have a clear focus on problem solving and shared implementation pathways, the level of abstraction had to be reduced and convergent effects stimu- lated in a systematic way. The effects of the time frame and the external inuences on the process, such as regulation, are more signicant during the 2nd WS than in the 1st WS, forward looking action planning and possible mechanisms to reach congruent meanings, are the basis for the joint action among the different types of actors.

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Achieving synthesis through effective joint constructions within the interactive and iterative process includes two important aspects:

1. The beliefs of each actor (1st/2nd order believes); also individual aspects are complementary to companys interests; 2. Opportunities to build congruency:

Change of problem denitions (e.g. protection is a function transferable to the substrate); Change of solutions (e.g. thin layers enable higher added value on surfaces).

Fine-tuning scenarios during discussion is useful to build joint action, stimulating convergency and, nally, synthesis. Scenarios had a good receptiveness during pre- testing stage. EverLasting surfaceswas the least well-received scenario in one-to- one meetings, because it was a threat to business, even for surface suppliers on automotive applications. However, due to WS discussion it proved to be very inter- esting, helping to identify new values within thin lm applications. The threats and stimuli felt by participants thoughout the process may result from the ability of individuals to discern windows of opportunity in each scenario, speci- ally when being out of mainstream thinking (e.g. this is not our business’—dis-

cussing ever lasting surfaces), but also on the ability to de-couple individual and corporate interests. This is particularly the case during the discussion of scenarios, in the frame of group action, and it may be analysed on the basis of the receptiveness

graphs (e.g. BGI-EverLasting

From Fig. 3, it is clear that in the beginning of the discussion on EverLasting Surfaces, it seemed that the two value systems (paint manufacturing, the others)


two value systems (paint manufacturing, the others) ’ ). Fig. 3. of BGI- ‘ EverLasting Surfaces

Fig. 3.

of BGI-EverLasting Surfaces.

Actorsreceptiveness during discussion of future actions based on a specic scenario: the case

854 P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861

could not be bridged. Later, there were two technical paths available (titanium, and especially PV coatings) that changed the course of discussion, with complementary effects, towards congruency, because it addressed the emergence of new solutions with added value (though paint manufacturers did not pick it up immediately) ‘— We deliver layers!. During that discussion, it was recognised that paint producers have no corporate research to deal with such long-term and more integrative issues. So, the observed change may be justied by the individual ability to recognise win- dows of opportunity, which comes some steps before the recognition and decision-

taking process at a corporate level. Moreover, when there is an external pressure in the process (e.g. a kind of zero emission vehicles (ZEV) mandate 1 ) [2830], then

some parts of the discussion are not discussed anymore (

how to buffer negative impacts on business, etc). The discussion regarding SusCoats, on the other hand, was determined by differ- ent and simpler constraints, where conditions for congruency were not so disparate. In part, this is due to the fact that the issues discussed were addressing more sus- tainable raw materials (e.g. vegetable oils), which is a sort of incremental improve- ment within the mainstream paint technology, as basic designs are not changed. Renewable raw material suppliers basically stressed the need for industrial partners, while paint producers recognised among several improvements addressing de-materi- alisation, and that the eld of vegetable oils is also of interest. Meanwhile, research costs might contribute to process bottlenecks. Again, based on Fisher as referred to in Grin and Van de Graaf [27], when translating the four levels of arguments to achieve synthesis within the frame of EverLasting Surfacesand SusCoatsdis- cussion, it is interesting to analyse how far these four levels were used in the 2nd WS. At level 2 (arguments of phenomenological nature), the formation of the groups (coalition) is important. At this level, it is important to have more homogeneous groups (technology- or policy-oriented, as performed for BGII), than heterogeneous groups (as performed in the SusHouse project). Besides the composition of the group, to achieve shared interests, the process needed to address the following issues:

just the time frame; or

1. The means (e.g. identication of required building blocks; feasibility studies);

2. Problem denitions (a kind of a road map is required, if no agreement is possible, to facilitate short-term steps);

3. Strong drivers are market and regulation, therefore long-term drivers are needed to get industry into long-term R&D;

1 Although organisations often attempt to preserve business as usual when facing threatening new external conditions like stringent environmental regulation [28], in some organisations however even those attempts result in setting in motion an internal process of change towards innovation. It causes them to have a gradual shift in mindsets and when, having evidence of gains, follow a stepwise evolution to different organisational structures and operational practices [29]. In a process where gains can accumulate, participants begin to change their roles, perceptions and expectations of the value of future actions. A particular case is identied in car industry, through the development of ZEV. Car manufacturers not submitted to California ZEV mandate show less efforts in developing radical innovations than those who are, though global competition makes them to act as followers in some technological paths (e.g. fuel cell technology) and/or to re-assess other existing R&D programmes (e.g. electric vehicles) [30].

P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861


4. Time frames (worst case, within EverLasting

with added value may require just 10 y);


new applications for thin layers

5. Boundaries (e.g. structures can be a boundary condition for new coalitions between actors-PV coatings in cars needs a European level approach due to inte- gration and policy requirements, but also to necessitate strong coalitions);

6. Decision-making about implementation (the joint construction level achieved does not enable us to assure a subsequent project design and implementation step; the SusHouse project had the same constraint). The relative power a company has in the chain makes the difference, having initiative according to the required strategy. Moreover, decision-making requires future stages and different conditions, strictly limited to the required building blocks and partnershipsit is not an open process). In addition, questions like Which developments are necessary?or Which elements are needed ?are difcult questions for companies in this (semi-) open participatory context, specially if they have competitors in attendance.

Regarding the discussion on the going as usualscenario, there was the argument that its aims are too close to SusCoats, therefore, it should not be included, as business people rely on it too much (e.g. pre-testing meetings with paint producers R&D, or with material suppliers on automotive applications). However, this scenario

is useful as a referencescenario, to clearly dene the contrast with the other scen- arios based on the assessment results. That comparison would not make sense if based only on confronting the current situation. On the subject of whether scenarios are credible and useful sketches for design strategies, scenarios were seen as analytical tools, not starting points for concrete projects. They were useful to make the process more elaborate, reinforcing the involvement of stakeholders and the preparation for a new round to build partner- ships. For that purpose, better conditions for partnership building are needed, which go beyond the steps tested with this methodology. Scenarios worked as a stage for

a new round among the key actors to nd ways to achieve congruent meanings and

a synthesis between distinct viewpoints. In fact, this had to be identied during the

different levels of discussion, according to the structure of the 2nd WS. In fact, the

purpose was to set broad objectives (new paths,

promote discussions among actors, reecting from particular future end-points 20 y in the future to the present. Within the scenarios dened, those assumed break- throughs are of particular importance for the scope of this study. Short-term oriented issues, for comparison purposes, also had to be considered because they are very attractive for current business, consisting of two complementary directions: cost reduction and problem-solving, dealing with issues like more rational measures on production, higher levels of automation, reduction of production costs; and the approach to new standards. These issues are of interest anyway, within the backcast- ing analysis, as they represent current approaches concerning current bottom-lines regarding future transitions. Reecting on what is required to take action within the implementation of scen- arios and how to promote ownership, primary conditions are to avoid threats to business in a broad sense (e.g. We dont need the paint industry!), and to have

) and mobilise driving forces to

856 P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861

exible scenarios (details should only stimulate discussion) to enable a step-by-step identication of shared visions towards joint constructions. Considering the needs of the stakeholders involved (or to be involved) in identied changes, in addition to trust building and agreement on basic values in order to create coalition conditions, as far as specic groups are concerned the following requirements should be considered:

1. Government needs long-term strategies;

2. Technologists need the required building blocks, adequate partners;

3. Managers require market expectation and feasibility studies.

Considering how to effectively promote ownership and implementation, based on shared problem orientation, three conditions were revealed to be important:

1. The availability of normative scenarios, resulting from shared options among key actors, to set broad objectives and identify driving forces;

2. The use of backcasting analysis, to reect within predened time frames on tran- sitions, from the considered future development level to the present;

3. The availability of adequate building blocks.

Regarding the question of divergent problem denitions, different problem de- nitions have been shown not to hinder congruency, once there is a common denomi- nator available to catalyse joint constructions. Scenarios have to mobilise such dis- cussion. Thus, what can we learn from discongruency/divergency of interests and of action orientation, and how can we react to it? Discussion is framed within the product chain (i.e. related challenges and problems), and within a pre-dened main assumption about sustainability requirements which is broad enough to cover every human being. Therefore, the key questions are, which paths satised the different groups of actors, and which should be the rhythms of implementation. Considering what the appropriate time scale should be for the responses/options selected (i.e. when should the process take place?) transitions should be discussed, considering future development levels that are far enough ahead in time (1020 y), according to the knowledge available and the implications on the returns on invest- ment of capital stocks applied. Other important issues have to be addressed besides opportunities, actions and their priorities: Who are the other actors needed for co-operation?” “What are the conditions and barriers when enrolling stakeholders (and key actors in particular)?and How can those barriers be reduced?It requires, however, future development of specic plans for SusCoats and for EverLasting Surfaces (incl. swot analysis, stakeholder acceptance, social and economic issues, strategies, implementation pro- posals based on activities, time frames, budget estimation, building blocks and actors). Organisations often attempt to preserve business as usualwhen facing threaten- ing external conditions e.g. stringent environmental regulation [28]. In order to over- come companies lobbying effects, specially in the car industry, a policy recommen- dation towards the EU, regards not only the design of market type incentives, rather

P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002)



than environmental regulations, but the inclusion as well of minimum levels to stimu- late local R&D and capabilities, adding value to the partnerships. The usefulness of this methodology has shown to be less powerful, in this particular case of application in PT compared to NL. Although product specications involved have a global approach, the great dependency from production under specication (offshore pro- duction, subcontracting), or from large business supply-consumer arrangements at holdings level, is frequently reducing local R&D to troubleshooting. Moreover, in the particular case of PT national system, the 2nd WS (or an additional step between the 1st and 2nd WS) requires a deeper explanation and dis- cussion of the assessment methodology of scenarios (e.g. a numerical example, addressing one of the scenarios) in order to facilitate receptiveness and comprehen- sion of results, so that abstraction can also be more easily dealt with, in parallel with short-term prevailing focus (e.g. dependency from current regulation, and from troubleshooting agenda). Thus, PT stakeholders, when called to create and formulate an agenda, are very grounded in daily problems, needing to see in order to believe, rather than discussing if those daily problems may be formulated in a different way. Thus, the creativity process in the country is being negatively inuenced by external R&D agendas, and by the short-term focus from local companies. In this particular WS it is also recognised that a professional facilitator, not inuenced by the status quo, or individual concerns, would be useful to push group dynamics towards long- term issues and stimulating the emergence from short-term dependency.

4. Discussion and conclusions

The basic standpoint for this research is the non-sustainability of current pro- duction and consumption practices regarding paints. The method appears to be useful in facilitating and catalysing the overall process with a high level of effectiveness, being a multi-stakeholder approach, which addresses a complex and uncertain issue. Different actors were successfully enrolled from the universe of stakeholders within the product chain, contributing to the generation of ideas that were ltered afterwards and used in scenario building. It appears that the creation of new innov- ative network of actors within an identied strategic direction requires: (i) an effec- tive identication of the network members; (ii) their commitment and partnership abilities within vertical and horizontal relationships. It also appears that a product chain approach and lifecycle thinking are useful for assisting in shared problem orientation. Enrolling key actors in pre-dened long- term issues is possible, but attention must be given to the structuring of (sub)networks according to the position in the chain (strategies; cultures). Moreover, credible scenarios in a time-effective process require brainstorming with technical content and creativity workshops. Without credible scenarios, no deep elaboration and no ownership effects during follow-up activities is possible. The translation of scenarios to accepted and shared, more sustainable paths, is a way of shedding light on new design strategies and ne-tuning R&D questions. Scen- arios for long-term design strategies are useful to: (i) make the process more elabor-

858 P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861

ate; (ii) make the stakeholder part of the process; (iii) ne-tune options and generate follow-up activities. Solution directions were evaluated based on a 3D abridged lifecycle assessment method (three 5 × 5 matrices). Finally, scenarios were tested on their coherence and social acceptance. At this stage, the 2nd WS is used to test pre-dened hypothesis, and validatethe results of previous steps. It is oriented towards the implementation of concrete actions, based on the discussion of scenarios, and on the generation of follow-up activities (e.g. networks, platforms) based on the issues leading to development. Possible alterna- tives are based on the results of the rst interviews, written questionnaires, and rst workshop results (e.g. more elaborate scenarios and their evaluation on environmen- tal gains). In addition, an iterative process of interviewing a group of experts (within the stakeholders panel) to confront othersarguments, was conducted. The validation of resultsshould be read as an evaluation of acceptance individually and collec- tively, as the input scenarios are a working tool (not an end-point) and, together with the corresponding 3D A-LCA results, form an information set that needs to be ex- ible to support the discussion and the joint construction process. Possible alternative paths can be addressed both at substrate and/or coating levels, being strongly favoured by the addition of marketable added value (e.g. PV coatings). Shared solution directions were identied in both scenarios, but natural receptiveness to implementation greatly depends on each players strategy. Looking forward towards long-term action plans, that dene a balance between differentiation and integration of ideas, the main missions for collective commitment identied in the chain are the following: (i) the paint industry should deliver better layers; (ii) the material supplier should deliver better surfaces; (iii) the car manufacturer should produce cleaner, safer and more comfortable vehicles; (iv) the government should develop forward-looking policies e.g. addressing the feasibility of a sustainable car, that would satisfy the tax payer, including a subprogramme on function integration. In a social constructivist framework, it is assumed that preferred actions are soci- ally constructed by individual actors, taking into account interests that are also soci- ally constructed. The goals of 2nd WS were clearly emphasised beforehand (preparatory contacts and workshop introduction). The options resulting from the actorscontributions during the 1st WS were used for scenario construction and for pre-testing one-to-one interviews giving insight on actorspreferences. These com- bined steps provided a working tool to stimulate discussion on action implemen- tation. Moreover, the set of desirable alternatives was conrmed to be helpful, prior to beginning any effective analysis of action plans, to direct the course and stimulate discussion within the pre-tested directions. The absence of such a tool, we believe, would lead to a less structured process due to a more trial-and-error based approach, conditioning shared meaning effects and possible coalitions. Thus, though scenario building and assessment is a very time consuming process, we believe it is worth using it as input information for the 2nd WS. Moreover, if the process only depended on one persons ability to form networks, it would also be time consuming, therefore preventing interaction between potential partners from the early stages of the project. After achieving the goals for the 1st WS, the 2nd WS enabled development

P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861


towards more innovative concepts, and some insight into the conditions for implementation of concrete actions. However, this aspect still needs to be further developed. The 2nd WS was useful to: (i) select and assess opportunities and current support for implementation of the main options identied, and networking mechanisms; (ii) discuss ways of facilitating a more systematic gathering of building blocks; (iii) identify how to enhance effectiveness and to acquire synergies among assumed actions; (iv) discuss and improve the effectiveness of the tools used. Regarding the sequence of workshops followed, our feeling is that the overall outcome stimulates a multi-organisational learning process within a product chain perspective, which helps the effectiveness of the discussions and the promotion of new synergies between the parties. From this stage till the stage of real project proposals, however, there is a line as thick as the interplay of business interests, which includes other variables affecting group dynamics (e.g. mutual trust, awareness of risk in a specic partnership), in a process that can take months when someone (individually/collectively) is considering a new partnership in a certain direction. So, the next step in the methodology should be one of two ways:

If the R&D subject has a clear business interest, then it is important to directly stimulate the initiative of the product champion, to perform specic task oriented, one-to-one meetings, in a step-by-step building process; If there is no clear business, but a strong policy interest, then the policy maker should facilitate (or subcontract that role) the interplay and trust-building process between the key players, keeping the approach format of a step-by-step building process. This process would be supported by discussions, from a broader scope starting from opportunities, back experiences and debate, towards more specic focus and individual interests. It would be initiated with a workshop of representatives/delegates from the different elds of discussion. At a later stage, following expressions of interest in bilateral co-operation within specic focus, as in the Eureka initiative (, more detailed events on selected issues or one-to-one meetings have to take place, based on a bilateral-meetings agenda, where the parties are invited to initiate concrete proposals for joint research projects.

In parallel with project preparations within the Eureka programme, we believe that those one-to-one meetings are essential for a later effective commitment in parti- cular if people come together without knowing each other well. Also, within the algorithm for this working methodology, feedback loops are required due to the unknown changing probability, which surrounds debate affected by great uncertainty. The method should be exible enough to facilitate feedback effects each time the system reects robust conclusions or new variables/inputs. To achieve synthesis conditions, the issues steered and discussed during scenario discussion could enable the identication and selection of the one(s) that will fuel

860 P.J. Partidario, Ph.J. Vergragt / Futures 34 (2002) 841861

BGII subgroup discussions. That selection is based on shared interests shown by participants, but it is up to the researcher/facilitator to nally decide which is the common denominator that has the most positive impact (catalysing synthesis) the next discussion steps. The degree of detail achieved in action plans should enable: (i) the identication of the objectives; (ii) a swot approach; (iii) stakeholder acceptance; (iv) addressing social and economic issues; (v) insight on strategies and implementation proposals; and (vi) the identication of the required building blocks and actors to be involved. Very seldom a key actor, particularly in a scale-intensive sector, will share a good idea (to build a comparative advantage) for nothing. Therefore, real decision-making about a new project is expected to happen beyond the scope of the 2nd WS, with arrangements following the required building blocks and partnerships (not being an open process). The structure of the network that is involved in the discussion will largely inu- ence the basic raw materialfor discussion. Two aspects of particular importance are: (i) the risk of not having a balance between users/ consumers input and the technical aspects involved, which is of key importance in enrolling industrial design; and (ii) the need and ability to involve car manufacturers (as paint applicators) in such a network, as particular conditions are required for that, especially within their supplying clubs, which are a privileged forum to in the car supply chain.


This research has been sponsored by a grant from the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation, Praxis XXI Programme, and by INETI (P).


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