Openness disposition: readiness characteristics that influence participant benefits from scenario planning as strategic conversation

George Burt, David J. Mackay, Kees van der Heijden, Charlotte Verheijdt

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In this paper we examine the impact of participant readiness to engage with, perform and benefit from scenario planning processes. Central to our examination is the concept of ‘openness disposition’, which in the context of scenario planning refers to the tendency to seek either to hold open ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty, or look for closure, simplification and surety when engaging in strategic conversations. Readiness indicates the capacity of individuals and collectives to work with competing narratives, dilemmas, tensions and differences of opinion, as may occur in scenario work. A focus on readiness through openness disposition enables critical evaluation of the utility of scenario planning to different individuals and groups based on their capacity to engage with equivocality during structured, exploratory strategic conversations. Based on findings emerging from a longitudinal field study with ProRail B.V. Holland, we empirically identify three characteristics of participant readiness, which are theorised to extend understanding of how individuals and groups might engage in, cope and benefit from, scenario planning processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date3 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2017


  • disposition
  • readiness
  • scenario planning
  • strategic conversations

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