September 20, 2001

European Participatory Technology Assessment.
Participatory Methods in Technology Assessment and Technology Decision-Making.

An increasing importance of participatory technology assessment methods in Europe and world-wide is observed as a consequence of critique and doubts to new developments on science and technology in general, as an answer to questions of uncertainty and inequality in the modern society, and as a new interactive development in policy analysis.
Participatory TA Methods (PTA) are suggested to be a possible way for a direct, interactive inclusion in the TA process of affected social actors, such as interest groups, consumers and members of the general public, alongside professional experts and policy makers. An increasing number of TA organisations are experimenting with and implementing participatory methods, allowing so for a better interaction between the public, stakeholders, experts and policy-makers.

The EUROPTA project (European Participatory Technology Assessment) has been carried out from March 1998 to December 1999 by 6 partners with the aim to advance the understanding of the role of PTA, to help furthering the development in PTA practice, and to give guidance for the implementation of participatory methods as a support function for public discourse and decision-making. The project was partly financed by the TSER programme of the European Commission.

A comparative analysis of the practice and experiences of PTA of the involved countries (Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Austria, Switzerland) was carried out. In order to set a common working-grid on the case-studies, a research framework was established. This framework involves a theoretical framework, an analytical framework and a research protocol.
The analysis of the project is outlined on five themes, each represented in the report as a thematic paper. In the five papers a transversal analysis of the case studies is made, and models for the understanding of the role, function and workings of participatory TA are presented. Finally, the EUROPTA team gives a comprehensive set of recommendations in order to better understand PTA, improve practices, and help the introduction of PTA into new institutional or national settings.

The EUROPTA project has been documented in the book “Participatory Technology Assessment. European Perspectives”, published at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, London, 2002. The book costs £15+postage/order costs, and order information is given in the leaflet link below.

The EUROPTA report and Annexes are supplied for download at this website. The Abstract and Executive Summery can be seen directly and/or downloaded from here: