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Article
Radical Uncertainty: Scenario Planning for Futures
Urban Studies and Planning Faculty Publications and Presentations
  • Marisa A. Zapata, Portland State University
  • Nikhil Kaza, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Document Type
Post-Print
Publication Date
1-1-2015
Abstract

The use of scenario planning in urban and regional planning practice has grown in the last decade as one way to face uncertainty. However, in adapting scenario planning from its origins in the business sector, planners have eliminated two key components: (1) the use of multiple scenarios, and (2) the inclusion of diverse organizations, people, and interests through deep deliberations. We argue that this shift limits the ability of planners to plan for multiple plausible futures that are shaped by an increasing number of diverse actors. In this paper, we use case-study research to examine how uncertainty was considered in four scenario-planning processes. We analyzed and compared the cases based on analytical categories related to multiple futures and diversity. We found that the processes that used multiple, structurally distinct scenarios explored a wider range of topics and issues shaping places. All four relied heavily on professional stakeholders as the scenario developers, limiting public input. Only one of the processes that included multiple futures captured the differential effects that scenarios would have on diverse people and interests. Overall, the purpose of the scenario planning drove the participant diversity and ultimately the quality and use of the scenarios.

Description

This is the author manuscript of an article subsequently published in the journal Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science.

DOI
10.1068/b39059
Persistent Identifier
http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/20353
Citation Information
Zapata, M. A., & Kaza, N. (2015). Radical uncertainty: scenario planning for futures. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 42(4), 754-770.