Pioneer Analysis as a Futures Research Method for Analysing Transformations

  • Sirkka HeinonenEmail author
  • Joni Karjalainen
Part of the Anticipation Science book series (ANTISC, volume 4)


Pioneers drive futures. The book chapter presents pioneer analysis as a useful approach for the analysis of transformations in the context of futures research and anticipation. The chapter begins with an introduction on how pioneers have typically been conceptualised in academic literature. We claim pioneering actions as analogous to weak signals of emerging futures, because they manifest possible futures that may be realised – or not. The chapter provides two methodological examples, which illustrate how pioneers can be identified, conceptualised and explored. Analysing pioneers creates critical understanding about the role of key actors who drive transformations and create the futures. Pioneers tackle uncertainty with problem-solving and by identifying systemic bottlenecks. Therefore, the actions of pioneers may have an emancipatory effect and provide leverage points for broader changes. In terms of policy relevance, we are interested in how policies can support those pioneers who aim to shape society in a positive way and enable desirable futures to be achieved. Pioneer analysis is also interested in the positive and negative outcomes, if such futures are realised. The chapter concludes by discussing areas for further methodological development.


Agency Emancipation Pioneer analysis Transformation Renewable energy 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC)University of TurkuHelsinkiFinland

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