Trust and the illusive force of scenarios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Scenarios are typically defined as stories describing different but equally plausible futures that are developed using methods that systematically gather perceptions about certainties and uncertainties. Scenarios are not intended to be truthful, but rather provocative and helpful in strategy formulation and decision-making. By definition, scenarios are possible versions of the future so judging and evaluating scenarios is thus not about revealing truthfulness, but rather demonstrating trust, reliability, credibility in the absence of truth and in the face of varied influences and possible frameworks for action. Trust speaks to persuasion and how stories of the future become trustworthy and garner credibility when traditional measures are fundamentally insufficient and irrelevant. That is, if we take as an assumption that we are not transpiring for truth or truthfulness in scenarios, then what becomes interesting is how scenarios convey authority and trustworthiness. How is it that scenarios attain and maintain power to compel people to action, change their worldview, or influence the directions of decisions or consensus? This piece examines the process, participation and products of scenario planning in light of conceptual understandings of trust. Such an inquiry highlights that scenarios have value inscriptions and varying degrees of normatively which are indebted to the particularities of their production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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