Refereed article in compilation book (A3)

Two lenses to megatrends in trade policy: Towards a future-oriented contextual approach

List of AuthorsAhlqvist Toni

EditorsKarhu Anna, Haaja Eini


Publication year2022

Book title *Global Trade and Trade Governance During De-Globalization: Transforming Trade Policy for Not-So-United World

Title of seriesInternational Political Economy Series

Start page181

End page195







The chapter focuses on relations of megatrends and trade policy. Megatrend, originally coined by Naisbitt (1982), refers to a cluster of events, phenomena and trends that can be assessed to constitute a general direction and quality of future, defined relatively concisely and observed with historical data. Currently, megatrends are commonly discussed in media and public planning through such titles as “climate change”, “digitalisation”, and “urbanisation”. However, it is not self-evident how to evaluate the actual impacts of megatrends in specific spatial and policy contexts. Thus, the chapter proposes that there are two lenses to conceptualise the impacts of megatrends. Through the first lens megatrends are unravelled as monolithic concepts, as centres of a discourse. The chapter suggests that there is also a second lens to read megatrends, that is, by perceiving them as contextual concepts. Based on this second lens, the chapter provides an outline of a framework to embed the trends or signals in a particular context, be it state, organisation or company. The chapter is divided to three sections. The first section discusses the common approach to megatrends critically and constructively. The second section outlines a future-oriented approach for contemplating the impacts of megatrends in specific contexts how to consider megatrends in the context of organisations and policy-making, and provides a framework to deconstruct and embed megatrends in a particular context. The suggested framework opens a variegated and relational perspective that aims at disrupting the linear and top-down orientation of mainstream “megatrend thinking”. The third section provides a stylised empirical example of how the future-oriented contextual approach could be used in explicating the European Union’s recent efforts to build an “open, sustainable and assertive trade policy”.

Last updated on 2022-07-12 at 09:13