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date: 13 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Drawing on research in the psychological sciences that has largely been overlooked in the scenario planning literature, this article argues that when used unskillfully scenarios can anchor and confine, rather than stretch and expand, strategic thinking and that constructing scenarios can itself be a biased activity, one that can induce new and amplify extant biases rather than remove them. Furthermore, unless skillfully introduced, scenario techniques can reduce or increase disproportionately the confidence and uncertainty of decision makers, leading correspondingly to misplaced optimism and threat rigidity among decision makers. In addition, the article highlights how, in some circumstances, the negative emotional impact of scenario analysis can override the potentially positive cognitive effects. Guidelines for using scenarios in organizational decision making are offered throughout.

Keywords: psychological sciences, scenarios, scenario planning, organizational decision making, scenario technique, cognitive effects

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