Enhancing the role of participatory scenario planning processes: Lessons from Reality Check exercises

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This paper critically assesses a series of scenario planning exercises in the Washington Metropolitan region and the State of Maryland within a broad and evolving framework of participatory planning. Reality Check, as the exercises were called, were a daylong set of activities using tools that encouraged stakeholder participation to develop scenarios focused on long-term regional sustainability. The paper draws upon planning theory, participant reactions, media reports, post-exercise outcomes and author's experiences of shaping the process. It illustrates how the model was adapted to multiple scales and contexts, and variations in desired technical complexity. The paper concludes that such processes have an inherent value in capturing the issues of the future and in creating awareness and knowledge. It argues that certain considerations such as early strategic engagement of stakeholders, flexibility of technical tools and diversity among organizers, all played a role in enhancing the dialogue. Furthermore, it suggests that when timed with favorable external conditions and designed within suitable institutional frameworks, they have the potential to provide a foundation from which tangible regional benefits can be realized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-399
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

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