We argue that scenario analysis should be viewed as a tool to stimulate problem

We argue that scenario analysis should be viewed as a

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benefits of using scenarios to help generate research ideas. The second section details the manner in which NEFPC deploys scenario analysis. The third section reflects upon some of the concrete scholarly benefits that have been
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realized from the scenario format. The fourth section offers insights on the pedagogical potential associated with using scenarios in the classroom across levels of study. A brief conclusion reflects on the importance of developing specific techniques to aid those who wish to generate political science scholarship of relevance to the policy world.What Are Scenarios and Why Use Them in Political Science?Scenario analysisis perceived most commonly as a technique for examining the robustness of strategy. It can immerse decision makers in future states that go beyond conventional extrapolations of current trends, preparing them to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and to protect themselves from adverse exogenous shocks. The global petroleum company Shell, a pioneer of the technique, characterizes scenario analysis as the art of considering “what if” questions about possible future worlds. Scenario analysis is thus typically seen as serving the purposes of corporate planning or as a policy toolto be used in combination with simulations of decision making. Yet scenario analysis is not inherently limited to these uses. This sectionprovides a brief overview of the practice of scenario analysis and the motivations underpinning its uses. It then makes a case for the utility of the technique for political science scholarshipand describes how the scenarios deployed at NEFPC were created.The Art of Scenario AnalysisWe characterize scenario analysis as the art of juxtaposing current trends in unexpected combinations in order to articulate surprising and yet plausible futures, often referred to as “alternative worlds.”Scenarios arethus explicitly not forecasts or projections based on linear extrapolations of contemporary patterns, and they are not hypothesis-based expert predictions. Nor should they be equated with simulations, which arebest characterized as functional representations of real institutionsor decision-making processes(Asal 2005). Instead, they are depictions of possible future states of the world, offered together with a narrative of the driving causal forcesand potential exogenous shocks that could lead to those futures. Good scenarios thus rely on explicit causal propositions that, independent of one another, are plausible—yet, when combined, suggest surprising and sometimes controversial future worlds. For example, few predicted the dramatic fall in oil prices toward the end of 2014. Yet independent driving forces, such
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