Scenario development


Use for

Describing possible alternative futures.


Scenarios are a tool that can be used to think about the future. They can be used to consider various possibilities for the future (and the associated uncertainties).

What do you do?

There are three types of scenarios you can use: extrapolating, normative and exploratory.

  • Extrapolating scenarios are in principle based on current trends
  • Normative scenarios are based on a particular (normative) desire
  • Exploratory scenarios are based on possible future uncertainties and impact.

A specific form of exploratory scenario is the socio-technical scenario, in which you describe potential future developments driven by technology, but also consider possible changes in the use of the technology, policies, legislation, infrastructure, networking and other institutional changes.

For vision creation/reorientation (the development of impressions of how the future should look), you should use normative and exploratory scenarios. Use extrapolating scenarios to investigate or underpin the need for system innovation (examples are climate scenarios or scenarios for growth in the use of cars).

Relationship with other methods: For the socio-technical scenarios, findings from Social Anchoring Analyses or the Esteem Method can be used.


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More information

  • Elzen, B., F.W. Geels, P.S. Hofman (2002). Sociotechnical Scenarios. Development and evaluation of a new methodology to explore transitions towards a sustainable energy supply Universiteit Twente, Centre for Studies of Science, technology and Society: Enschede.
  • Elzen, B., F.W. Geels, P. Hofman and K. Green (2004). ‘Sociotechnical scenarios as a tool for transition policy: An example from the traffic and transport domain', in: Elzen et al. (eds), System Innovation and the Transition to Sustainability: Theory, Evidence and Policy Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, pp. 251-281.

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