Conceptual concerns hindering the research of weak signals and wild cards ahead of planners

Conceptual concerns hindering the research of weak signals and wild cards ahead of planners


  • Mátyás SZABÓ Hungarian Academic of Scienses



Futures studies, rural development, weak signal, wild card, public planning


The practical search for weak signals and wild cards does not follow the explosion of scenario building in public policy designing and policymaking practices. Potential rural development planners face a number of conceptual challenges when they would engage in such research. The article takes stock of these theoretical points, which are hindering the rural development use. The detection, speed and impact of phenomena and preparation raise questions that have a decisive impact on the chosen research methodology. The article explores the need to increase the frequency of research and the follow-up activities of the foresights, as well as the subjective role of the researcher and interpreter, in the hope of inviting futures studies researchers for further research and discussion.


[1] Ansoff, H.I., 1985. Conceptual underpinnings of systematic strategic management. Eur. J. Oper. Res. 19, 2–19.

[2] Ansoff, I., 1975. Managing strategic surprise by response to weak signals. Calif. Manag. Rev. 23 (2), 21–23.

[3] Ansoff, I.H., 1980. Strategic issues management. Strategy. Manag. J. 1 (2), 131–148.

[4] Barber, M. (2006): Wildcards–Signals from a Future Near You. Journal of Futures Studies, August 2006, 11(1): 75–94.

[5] Chun Wei Choo (1996): The Knowing Organization: How Organizations Use Information to Construct Meaning, Create Knowledge and Make Decisions. International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 16, No. 5, pp.329-340.

[6] Chun Wei Choo (2002): Information Management for the Intelligent Organization: The Art of Scanning the Environment. Information Today, Inc., 325 p.

[7] Chun Wei Choo (2017): Seeking and avoiding information in a risky world. InformationReseach VOL. 22 NO. 3, SEPTEMBER, 2017.

[8] Dator, J.(1994): SURFING THE TSUNAMIS OF CHANGE. For the Primer Congreso Mexicano Sobre Prospectiva Los Futuros de Mexico y el Mundo" Centre de Estudios Prospectivos, Royal Hotel, Mexico City, September 26, 1994

[9] Glassey, O. (2012): Folksonomies: Spontaneous crowdsourcing with online early detection potential?. Futures44(2012)257–264. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2011.10.008

[10] Haeckel, S.H., 2004. Peripheral vision: sensing and acting on weak signals making meaning out of apparent noise: the need for a new managerial framework. Long Range Plan. 37 (2), 181–189

[11] Heinonen, S., Hiltunen, E. (2012): Creative Foresight Space and the Futures Window: Using visual weak signals to enhance anticipation and innovation. Futures 44 (2012) 248–256. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2011.10.007

[12] Hiltunen, E. (2007): The future sign and its three dimensions. Futures 40 (2008) 247–260. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2007.08.021

[13] Hiltunen, E. (2008): Good Sources of Weak Signals: A Global Study of Where Futurists Look For Weak Signals. Journal of Futures Studies, May 2008, 12(4): 21–44

[14] Holopainen, M., Toivonen, M. (2012): Weak signals: Ansoff today. Futures 44 (2012) 198–205. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2011.10.002

[15] I. Nonaka, H. Takeuchi, The Knowledge-creating Company–How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamic of Innovation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995.

[16] Inayatullah, S. (2013): Futures Studies: Theories and Methods.

[17] Jǿrgensen, U. (2012): Design junctions: Spaces and situations that frame weak signals – the example of hygiene and hospital planning. Futures 44 (2012) 240–247. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2011.10.006

[18] JRC and EKLIPSE* (2017): Workshop on Horizon Scanning: from Interesting to Useful, from Practice to Impact. Brussels, 13-14 December 2017. Krzysztofowicz, M., Goudeseune, L., Bontoux, L., Balian, L.

[19] Kim, J., Lee, C. (2017): Novelty-focused weak signal detection in futuristic data: Assessing the rarity and paradigm unrelatedness of signals. Technological Forecasting & Social Change (2017),

[20] Koivisto, R., Kulmala, I., Gotcheva, N. (2016): Weak signals and damage scenarios-Systematics to identify weak signals and their sources related to mass transport attacks. Technological Forecasting & Social Change 104 (2016) 180–190.

[21] Kuosa, T. (2009): Futures signals sense-making framework (FSSF): A start-up tool to analyze and categorize weak signals, wild cards, drivers, trends, and other types of information. Futures 42 (2010) 42–48. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2009.08.003

[22] Kuusi, O., Hiltunen, E. (2011): The Signification Process of the Future Sign. Journal of Futures Studies, September 2011, 16(1): 47 – 66.

[23] Lavallée, L. (1972): A marxista prognosztikáért. Kossuth Kiadó, Budapest.

[24] Makridakis, S. (1990): Forecasting, planning, and strategy for the 21st century. Free Press, New York.

[25] Mendonça, S., Cunha, M.P., Kaivo-oja, J., Ruff, F., 2004. Wild cards, weak signals, and organizational improvisation. Futures 36 (2004), 201–218

[26] Nováky, E. (2019): 50 years of future research/studies in Hungary and Future directions. Magyar Tudomány 180 (2019)10, 1443–1451

[27] DOI: 10.1556/2065.180.2019.10.3

[28] Petersen, J. L. (1999): Out of the blue: How to Anticipate Big Future Surprises. Madison Books, 215.p. ISBN 1568331355, 9781568331355

[29] Rockfellow, J.D.. (1994): Wild cards preparing for „the big one”. The futurist 1994. January-February p.14-19.

[30] Rossel, P. (2012): Early detection, warnings, weak signals and seeds of change: A turbulent domain of future studies. Futures 44 (2012) 229–239. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2011.10.005

[31] Rubin, A., Kaivo-Oja J. (1999): Towards a Futures-oriented Sociology. International Review of Sociology—Revue Internationale de Sociologie, Vol. 9, Mo. 3, 1999. 349-371

[32] Saul, P. (2006): Seeing the Future in Weak Signals. Journal of Futures Studies, February 2006, 10(3): 93 – 102.

[33] Thorleuchter, D., Poel, D.V. (2013): Weak signal identification with semantic web mining. Expert Systems with Applications 40 (2013) 4978–4985

[34] Thorleuchter, D., Poel, D.V. (2014): Idea mining for web-based weak signal detection. Futures 66 (2015) 25–34

[35] Thorleuchter, D., Scheja, T., Poel, D.V. (2014): Semantic weak signal tracing. Expert Systems with Applications 41 (2014) 5009–5016.

[36] van Notten, Ph. W. F., Sleegers, A. M., van Asselt, M.B.A. (2003): The future shocks: On discontinuity and scenario development. Technological Forecasting & Social Change 72 (2005) 175–194.

[37] Von Furstenberg, G., M.(edit) (1990): Acting under Uncertainty - Multidisciplinary Conception. Springer Netherlands ISBN 978-94-015-7873-8. Doi: 10.1007/978-94-015-7873-8

[38] Weak signals analysis, knowledge management theory and systemic socio-cultural transitions Jari Kaivo-oja Volume 44, Issue 3, April 2012, Pages 206-217.

[39] Zandvoort, M., Van der Vlist, M.J., Klijn, F., Van den Brink, A. (2018): Navigating amid uncertainty in spatial planning. Planning Theory 2018, Vol. 17(1) 96–116




How to Cite

SZABÓ, M. (2023). Conceptual concerns hindering the research of weak signals and wild cards ahead of planners. New Countryside, 3(1), 1–7.