Technology foresight and sustainable innovation development in the complex dynamical systems view

Klaus Mainzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Information and communication technologies (ICT), which are transforming most areas, develop non-linearly. Failure to take into account the nonlinear principles of complex dynamic systems hinders the development of balanced innovation strategies. Companies and governments lose the ability to effectively respond to “grand challenges”. The linear approach does not allow for covering a wide range of critical areas simultaneously in the scope of Foresight projects, it prevents one from applying an interdisciplinary approach to developing innovation strategies, correcting risk assessments, and making informed decisions. This paper proposes a solution: management based on “cyber-physical systems” (CPS) built on dynamic complexity and nonlinearity principles. Such systems not only integrate computing and physical action but are embedded in the everyday environment. They are more than the sum of multiple intelligent computing devices. CPS transform into collective social systems, integrate information, energy, and material flows, and adapt to physical processes. Cyber-physical systems can offer a sustainable information infrastructure which serves as a prerequisite for building up the innovation potential of a company, region, or country. They make it possible to analyze all stages of an innovation project from the technical and organizational points of view simultaneously, cover all possible social consequences and challenges, and identify unexpected promising developments. CPS have a decentralized structure which allows one to solve complex problems and manage large and complex structures in real time, such as an energy grid, transport, smart city, healthcare, and so on.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalForesight and STI Governance
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Complex dynamic systems
  • Cyber-physical systems
  • Foresight
  • Innovation strategies
  • Inter-disciplinary approach
  • Management of complex structures
  • Socio-technical systems


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