Using Live Cases to Learn Scenario Planning – How the Purpose Matters for Impact and Meaningfulness

Bhatti, Yasser, Ramírez, Rafael and Riaz, Saba (2016) Using Live Cases to Learn Scenario Planning – How the Purpose Matters for Impact and Meaningfulness. Saïd Business School Working Paper, Oxford.

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The Oxford Scenarios Programme (OSP) is an executive education programme at the Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford that uses ‘reflective practice’ (Schön 1983) to help individuals alone and in groups learn by doing and reflecting. Since 2007 this experiential learning (Markulis 1985) has been helped by deploying “live client case studies” to ground the learning in a real, still-unfolding, setting. Our designing executive education as an inquiring system (Churchman 1971) includes wider stakeholder engagement as a foundation for learning. The main purpose of the OSP is to help participants to improve the effectiveness of their scenario planning by understanding the epistemology, theories and methodology that underpin choices of methods (techniques, practices, tools) used in any scenario planning engagement. Grounding this in a real engagement with live ‘clients’ helps learners but little is known about how it helps or is meaningful to clients and their organizations. It is this experience with clients we analyze in this paper. The OSP has been a week-long programme since 2007 occurring twice each year. The clashes between theory and practice that this programme design surfaced has helped faculty to produce research that clarifies methodological and epistemological misunderstandings (e.g., Ramirez and Wilkinson 2014, 2016). The stable format offers laboratory-like conditions to allow comparison of how live case client executives benefit from a limited exposure (set up brief, three hours Monday evening, one on Wednesday, and 90 minutes on Friday) to scenario planning applied on an issue that matters to their organisation. We used abduction (Suddaby 2006) and interpretative research (Gephardt 2004) to study 22 live case clients drawn from 15 OSPs since 2007. We designed, tested, and used a questionnaire to explore dependent variables on (i) how actual values derived from claims in scenario planning literature were met and (ii) how purpose expectations compared with outcome. As engaged scholarship (Trist, Murray, and Trist 1990; Van de Ven 2007) that links theory and practice, our findings suggest the ‘impact’ of executive education and development can extend to the executives of a large number of organisations beyond the executives attending the programme and thereby extend the meaningfulness of business schools. Findings inform the literatures on (a) management education and (b) scenario planning.

Item Type: Oxford Saïd Research Paper
Keywords: Scenarios & Futures research, Strategy, Scenario planning, Engaged Scholarship, Executive Education, Learning, Live Cases, Impact
Subject(s): Scenario & Futures research
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2016 17:16
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2018 11:30

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