Storytelling and the scenario process: Understanding success and failure

Gary Bowman*, R. Bradley MacKay, Swapnesh Masrani, Peter McKiernan

*Corresponding author for this work

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 nine-year period in an intra-organizational partnership to investigate the efficacy of scenario planning development processes. Of the two interventions, the first, which followed what we term an 'inductive' method, was successful, meeting the objectives set by the organization, while the second approach, which we term 'deductive', 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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Storytelling and the scenario process: Understanding success and failure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this