‘Branching scenarios’ seeking articulated action for regional regeneration – a case study of limited success

Cairns, George and Wright, George and Fairbrother, Peter and Phillips, Richard (2017) ‘Branching scenarios’ seeking articulated action for regional regeneration – a case study of limited success. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 124. pp. 189-202. ISSN 0040-1625

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    Abstract

    In this article, we outline and discuss a novel augmentation of scenario method combined with Delphi analysis to engage multiple actors in analyzing complex and contested problems. In particular, we present 'branching scenarios' as an approach that breaks potential chains of perceived causality from the national/global level to drive local outcomes. The approach focuses on generating debate on local agency. The project discussed formed part of a larger research program in North West Tasmania to study the possible processes for economic and social regeneration. In engaging key stakeholders from public, private and non-governmental organizations, the team faced issues associated with participants' geographical dispersal and lack of time. In addition, the region may be considered as characterized by ‘lock-in’ to extant structures and, perhaps, resistant to the change necessary to achieve economic regeneration. For these reasons, our scenario intervention was deliberately designed to provide a cognitive 'jolt' to these senior, time-poor individuals - seeking to prompt their articulated action to achieve the jointly-held goal, regeneration. We document our approach and evaluate and analyze the degree to which we achieved this jointly-desired outcome. We present a new conceptual framework for broad social inquiry that will promote deep stakeholder engagement.