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Unravelling the complexity of collective mental models: a method for developing and analysing scenarios in multi-organisational contexts

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posted on 2011-09-20, 11:22 authored by Robby SoetantoRobby Soetanto, Andrew Dainty, Chris GoodierChris Goodier, Simon Austin
In multi-organisational contexts, scenario building has been used to engage stakeholders in a critical discussion on issues of mutual importance, and to gain their support with regards to possible future responses. A review of existing literature suggests that much has been written regarding the process of scenario development and the benefits of the process, but the detailed analysis of scenario building outcomes, which encompass a large number of issues and their complex interconnections, has not been made explicit for studying and enhancing understanding of a complex societal problem. This paper presents a systematic method for analysing such complex outcomes in order to facilitate reflective thinking on important issues within the wider context for policy development. The method was employed in a series of participative scenario development workshops, which yielded several causal maps around the theme of construction industry skills. A collective map merging the individual subject-specific causal maps was created to help provide a more holistic overview of the pertinent issues surrounding the construction skills debate. The analysis of this collective map promotes a better understanding of the issue in the wider context, the consequence of possible future events and actions, and of the pre-requisition required for certain events/desired outcomes to take place. The main benefit that could be derived from the method is the opportunity to help facilitate and encourage debate and discussion amongst key stakeholders regarding scenario theme, in this case skills improvement within construction. Due to its flexibility and adaptability, the method could potentially be applied to other areas requiring longer range planning and which contain multiple stakeholder perspectives.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


SOETANTO, R. ... et al., 2011. Unravelling the complexity of collective mental models: a method for developing and analysing scenarios in multi-organisational contexts. Futures, 43 (8), pp. 890-907


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This article was published in the journal, Futures [© Elsevier]. The definitive version is available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328711001479




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