The Delphi method was originally developed in the 50s by the RAND Corporation in
Santa Monica, California. This approach consists of a survey conducted in two or more rounds and provides the participants in the second round with the results of the first so that they can alter the original assessments if they want to - or stick to their previous opinion. Nobody ‘looses face’ because the survey is done anonymously using a questionnaire (the first Delphis were panels). It is commonly assumed that the method makes better use of group interaction (Rowe et al. 1991, Häder/Häder 1995) whereby the questionnaire is the medium of interaction (Martino 1983). The Delphi method is especially useful for long-range forecasting (20-30 years), as expert opinions are the only source of information available. Meanwhile, the communication effect of Delphi studies and therefore the value of the process as such is also acknowledged.
During the last ten years, the Delphi method was used more often especially for national science and technology foresight. Some modifications and methodological improvements have been made, meanwhile. Nevertheless, one has to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the method so that it cannot be applied in every case. It is useful for an assessment of new things to come and in cases, which can be explained very shortly. This means for complex themes, it is better to use other methodologies like scenarios and to take into account what Delphi results can provide as single information pieces. Thus, Delphi studies were mainly applied in science, technology and education contexts, but one can think of different occasions.
Delphi studies are rather complex procedures and require some resources depending on the breadth of the study planned. Delphi studies are processes that include the preparation, a survey in two or more rounds and some analyses and application
(implementation) when the survey is finished. All
Bibliography: in: Socio-Economic Planning Science, vol. 5 (1971) p. 64. Wechsler, Wolfgang (1978): Delphi-Methode, Gestaltung und Potential für betriebliche Prognoseprozesse, Schriftenreihe Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Forschung und Entwicklung, München. Woudenberg, F. (1991): An Evaluation of Delphi, in: Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 40, pp. 131 – 150. 112 113