Who, What and When

WHO should use TranSTEP?

TranSTEP may be used if decision makers or other actors identify a need for dealing with an issue in an integrated and transdisciplinary way.

Several actors may want to use TranSTEP:

  • government agencies
  • established assessment institutions wanting to broaden their scope
  • private actors
  • public-private alliances or networks
  • NGOs or other interested parties

TranSTEP is a flexible approach that can be adjusted to fit the needs of the individual users. That is why we present some key elements of TranSTEP and leave the methodological details as optional resources.

TranSTEP is likely to be less useful for institutions with a specific disciplinary mandate, where broad discussions on the design of assessments may be regarded as potentially compromising the validity of the results according to the specific mandate.

On WHAT issues is TranSTEP a useful approach?

TranSTEP is developed specifically with regard to assessing emerging science and technologies (EST). These are often characterised by complexity, uncertainty and controversy of facts and values; for instance with regard to potential market demand, reactions by the public, health and environmental risks, regulatory relevance, etc. However, this holds not only for EST, but also for other technology issues. Ultimately, the scope of TranSTEP  might be even wider since it is determined by the perception of a user that a broad range of perspectives needs to be integrated in assessing the knowledge basis for making decisions on a given issue.

In order to motivate participation the issue to be assessed in TranSTEP must be related to an identifiable problem, for policy makers, industry or other stakeholders. Such a problem can be related to:

  • general technology trajectories (such as nano food)
  • particular technology applications (such as a genetically modified insect)
  • particular policy/governance issues (such as the development of a ‘European cloud’)

A ‘problem’ does not have to be a negative or undesirable state of affairs; rather, it denotes that some kind of actions are required. As such, someone (a decision maker, the public, NGOs) must have identified and given a preliminary definition of the problem.

End users have suggested that TranSTEP could be used

  • as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) or responsible research and innovation (RRI) approach
  • as an approach for ex post evaluation and monitoring
  • as a form of horizon-scanning activity where issues that might become controversial are surveyed and screened;
  • as a preparation of impact assessments
  • in situations where there is a question of prioritization of different kinds of risks that are not easily quantifiable or comparable.
  • as a tool to find a consensus that there is an issue or a topic to be discussed – even if the different perspectives merge or consensus on action is reached
  • as a communication tool aiming at creating an forum for discussion rather than guiding an assessment process
  • as a conflict resolution tool
  • as a checklist for quality control of assessment processes
  • in emergency preparedness organisations

WHEN should TranSTEP be used?

TranSTEP can be used earlier or later in the development of a technology, application or policy issue.

At an earlier stage the focus will likely be on situation analysis and new assessment activities.

At a later stage more attention will be devoted to reviewing existing assessments and integrating their findings for the problem formulation at hand.