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Journal cover: foresight


ISSN: 1463-6689

Online from: 1999

Subject Area: Strategy

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Global synthesis of Searchlight reports using knowledge discovery and visualization

Document Information:
Title:Global synthesis of Searchlight reports using knowledge discovery and visualization
Author(s):Sucharita Gopal, (Based at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Citation:Sucharita Gopal, (2012) "Global synthesis of Searchlight reports using knowledge discovery and visualization", foresight, Vol. 14 Iss: 6, pp.468 - 488
Keywords:Climate change, Data mining, Network analysis, Ontology, Partnership, Public-private partnership, Sentiment tracking, Strategic planning, Treemap, Urbanization
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/14636681211284926 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The author sincerely acknowledges the valuable feedback from Evan Michelson and Claudia Juech at the Rockefeller Foundation and wishes to thank Sara Chung, Jackie Gushue and Lindsey Everitt for their reviews of the manuscripts and David Kealey for his rendering of visualizations. She wishes to thank Cynthia Barakatt for her patience and unending support and Adil Najam, former director of the Pardee Center, Boston University.

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to synthesize trends, issues, and policies related to development using a database of Searchlight reports. The paper seeks to utilize three techniques – conceptual tree visualizations to uncover patterns impacting regional development; network analysis to compare and contrast urbanization in South Asia and Southern Africa; and sentiment analysis to assess various sectors of development that elicit positive and negative reactions.

Design/methodology/approachThe paper presents a synthesis based on a unique database that was developed using a novel scoring scheme to quantify the development concepts presented in 312 Searchlight articles in a period between September 2009 and December 2010.

FindingsPrimary and secondary concepts define an ontology that can be visualized to provide an overall synthesis of a subset of the Searchlight database. Social issues were significant in Asia, climate change narrative in Africa, and governance in Latin America. In terms of sentiments, negative sentiments tended to overshadow optimism. However, technology and knowledge was seen as a panacea along with social entrepreneurship in some regions of Asia. There is also a realization that newer issues related to climate change, resource and energy depletion, food insecurity and the current financial crisis will exacerbate present difficult conditions.

Practical implicationsThe paper suggests that qualitative data presented in various articles could be synthesized and visualized using data mining techniques. This methodology provides a comprehensive way to capture knowledge and insights provided by development experts to coherently share and discuss the multitude of common global challenges of the twenty-first century.

Originality/valueThe visualizations and data mining techniques are developed for this study context. The approach can add value by tracking and monitoring current and emerging trends relevant to the Foundation's strategic framework, operational initiatives, and areas of work. Parts of this paper have been presented in a previous publication (see

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