Functions of scenarios in transition processes

Arnim Wiek, Claudia Binder, Roland W. Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Given the interplaying tendencies of economic decline, social instability, and environmental depletion, any transition towards sustainable development faces a challenging task. To successfully cope with this complexity requires transition management. Integrated approaches for supporting sustainability transitions have been elaborated in the last years. Future studies and scenario construction are regarded as essential components in these approaches. However, the related studies in this field have focused either on a specific type of transition process, or on decision support in a different contextual process, or on a specific function of scenarios. Thus, an evaluation of the wide range of viewpoints on the functions of scenarios with respect to the requirements for transition management is still missing. In this paper, we systematically elaborate upon the functions for transition management that scenarios can fulfil. The developed concept is applied to five empirical scenario studies supporting transition processes on the national, regional and local level in Switzerland. The paper contributes to the development of a functional methodology of transition support, providing initial guidelines for answering the question of which method is appropriate for what type and phase of a transition process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-766
Number of pages27
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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