Scenarios and their application in future oriented research

An analysis of the value and limitations of the use of scenario techniques


Term Paper, 2017
9 Pages, Grade: 2,0

Excerpt

Content

Tables and figures

1 Introduction to the Scenario Technique

2 Advantages and disadvantages of scenarios

3 Reflections on our scenario technique application during our foresight study

References

Tables and figures

Figure 1: Key process steps of scenario analyses (Source: Kosow and Gassner, 2008, p. 25).

Figure 2: Characteristics of qualitative vs. quantitative and explorative vs. normative scenarios
(Source: Kosow and Gassner, 2008, pp. 32-34).

Figure 3: overview of different scenario technique approaches (Source: Kosow and Gassner, 2008, pp. 76-77).

1 Introduction to the Scenario Technique

Kosow and Gassner (2008) propose in their comprehensive study of scenario techniques, their application and theoretical foundations some basic characteristics of scenario techniques. These characteristics are in essence, that a scenario describes a possible future situation and explores while doing so the paths which lead to that outcome (p. 11). They further propose that scenarios are shedding light only on segments of the future and deliberately spare out on some aspects, they are further more constructed in that regard that the underlying developments for those future situations are made up based on more or less probable factors. Accordingly they are based on assumptions of the development of certain trends that can be observed in the respective area already and are, as such trends are extrapolated during the development of a future scenario entirely hypothetical (pp. 11-13).

Jackson (2013, p. 24) defines scenarios subsequently and more from a practical point of view as a vision of distinct quality, that are told as stories and elaborate in those how the future might looks. In order of doing so, they make assumptions of connections and modes of actions.

Especially practical oriented scholars differ between a huge variety of scenario techniques, varying in their complexity, purpose and outcome (Pherson, 2015, p. 5; Jackson, 2013, p. 24; UNIDO, n.d., pp. 69-75). However all of them share a basic methodology (see figure 1).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Key process steps of scenario analyses (Source: Kosow and Gassner, 2008, p. 25).

This process basically consists of the identification of a scenario canvas, the derivation of key factors and the elaboration of these factors into scenario stories (Kosow and Gassner, 2008, pp. 25-30), that basically underline one of five main points (Pherson, 2015, p. 9):

- The most credible downside risk,
- The consensus or mainline assessment,
- A new opportunity,
- A new or previously unexamined trend or dynamic
- A scenario the customer will recognize and find credible.

Because of the needed transfer ability to underline these mentioned focal points Popper (2008, p. 72) defines scenarios as a very creative foresight technique.

UNIDO (n.d., p. 69) and Kosow and Gassner (2008, pp. 25-30) define the use of scenarios as:

- Illustrating and communicating features of forecasts and future-relevant analyses (communication function),
- Providing a framework in terms of which views of different aspects of future developments can be integrated and their consistency or otherwise examined (goal setting function).
- Structuring and guiding discussion so that visions, elements of visions, and the assumptions that underpin such visions, can be explicated and elaborated (strategy formation function).

2 Advantages and disadvantages of scenarios

According to Kosow and Gassner (2008, pp. 32-34) scenarios can be divided into either normative or explorative and qualitative and quantitative types, which basically makes, among others, for four different types of scenarios, e.g. explorative qualitative scenarios. The characteristics of these types are shown in figure 2.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Characteristics of qualitative vs. quantitative and explorative vs. normative scenarios (Source: Kosow and Gassner, 2008, pp. 32-34).

Mietzner and Regner (2005, p. 233) provide a framework for the basic value assessment of a scenario analysis. The criteria which a scenario should meet to provide according to its assigned use to a foresight exercise are a) Plausibility, as the scenarios have to be able to actually happen, b) Differentiation, as in a structural difference and not only a simple variation of each other, c) Consistency, avoidance of built-in internal inconsistencies, d) Decision-making utility, as a scenario should contribute insights into the future that help to make decisions and finally e) Challenge, as the scenarios should challenge the practioner’s conventional wisdom.

The advantages and disadvantages of scenarios are broadly discussed, especially under the notion of their practical relevance (Jackson, 2013, pp. 24-25). In Addition Mietzner and Regner (2005, pp. 235-236) propose an exhaustive overview of advantages and disadvantages of the use of a scenario technique. The strengths are:

- They describe multiple futures, and directly compare them to each other;
- Scenarios are mind openers and to challenge long-held internal beliefs of an organization; and therefore has the chance to change the corporate culture;
- Using them one can recognize and plan with ‘weak signals’, discontinuities and disruptions to be better prepared to handle new situations;
- According to their core function they improve the creation of a common language for dealing with strategic issues, starting a strategic conversation within an organization;
- The sharing of mutual aims, opportunities, risks, and strategies within the analyzing team improves coordination and general organizational learning;
- Scenario building is highly adoptable to most of the practioner’s current situations.

To the contrary the disadvantages are (ibid.):

- Scenario building is very time consuming;
- Scenarios are highly depended on the selection of suitable experts and information
- A deep initial understanding and knowledge of the actual topic is necessary
- Shifting focus from black and white scenarios or the most appealing scenario during the scenario-building process might be hard but should be forced as it otherwise may corrupt the exercises outcome.

In conclusion it is to state, that scenario building is for the said reasons a very powerful tool not only for foresight studies but also for internal communication and the compression of existing knowledge. However it should be deliberately planned what kind of scenario building process, technique and outcome is expected and accordingly prepared to embrace its full impact.

[...]

Excerpt out of 9 pages

Details

Title
Scenarios and their application in future oriented research
Subtitle
An analysis of the value and limitations of the use of scenario techniques
College
University of Malta  (Edward de Bono Institute)
Course
Foresight Techniques for Creativity and Innovation
Grade
2,0
Author
Year
2017
Pages
9
Catalog Number
V373562
ISBN (eBook)
9783668511231
ISBN (Book)
9783668511248
File size
1361 KB
Language
English
Tags
foresight, techniques, scenario technique, limitations, value, future oriented research, analysis, reflection, problems
Quote paper
Felix Zappe (Author), 2017, Scenarios and their application in future oriented research, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/373562

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