Storytelling and the scenario process: Understanding success and failure

Brad MacKay, Gary Bowman, Peter McKiernan, Swapnesh Masrani

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    63 Citations (Scopus)


    Scenario planning has become a widely used strategic management approach for understanding future environmental uncertainty. Despite its increasing popularity in management practice, the theoretical underpinnings for scenario planning processes remain underdeveloped. Furthermore, there is little analysis on why some scenario methods succeed and others fail. To address this gap, we draw on storytelling theory as a conceptual lens for analyzing our data. This paper uses a longitudinal case study of two successive scenario planning interventions over a 9 year period in an intra-organizational partnership to investigate the efficacy of scenario planning development processes. Of the two interventions, the first, which followed an inductive method, was successful, meeting the objectives set by the organization, while the second approach, which followed a deductive method, was deemed a failure. We develop a process model explaining these divergent outcomes based on how meaning was either enabled or inhibited in the two methods through storytelling.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)735-748
    Number of pages14
    JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - May 2013


    • Scenario Method
    • Scenario Planning
    • Storytelling
    • Strategic Management


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