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Discipline which seeks, with the aid of various methods (e.g. listings of problems, objectives and means), to analyse the effects of technology on different areas of life and to avoid identifiable harmful or unwanted consequences or promote a human- and environment-centred technology strategy . At present it comprises three component elements: technological forecasting, impact analysis and policy analysis, in which an attempt is made to take account of imponderables of future developments, particularly as regards the nature of the process of political and economic implementation. This is of special importance in the case of universally applicable technologies (e.g. microelectronics ). The nature and impact of their use depend on how, in a given situation, the available elements are selected and combined with organization and human-related measures. Since the users concerned are, however, able to anticipate future developments in only an approximate fashion, there is an increased danger that all other considerations will be subordinated to whatever happen to be the dominant interests at the time.

In the past, there was no institutionalized basis for technology impact analysis and assessment in the Federal Republic, and it remained confined to ad hoc committees of inquiry. Nowadays, the Federal Parliament Committee for Research, Technology and Technology Impact Analysis has attached to it a corresponding Bureau which is part of a Division of the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Centre.

Basically, it is only through the attitudes of the actors concerned that technology impact analysis has an effect on the shaping of industrial relations. Nevertheless, the "state of the art" concept has resulted in the introduction into statutes and technical standards of a normative entitlement to provision against risk which is linked to more than strictly technical possibilities.

Please note: the European industrial relations glossaries were compiled between 1991 and 2003 and are not updated. For current material see the European industrial relations dictionary.

Page last updated: 14 August, 2009