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City planning -- Effect of uncertainty on, Regional planning -- Effect of uncertainty on, Strategic planning, Urban community development -- Forecasting


The use of scenario planning in urban and regional planning practice has grown in the last decade as one way to face uncertainty. However, in adapting scenario planning from its origins in the business sector, planners have eliminated two key components: (1) the use of multiple scenarios, and (2) the inclusion of diverse organizations, people, and interests through deep deliberations. We argue that this shift limits the ability of planners to plan for multiple plausible futures that are shaped by an increasing number of diverse actors. In this paper, we use case-study research to examine how uncertainty was considered in four scenario-planning processes. We analyzed and compared the cases based on analytical categories related to multiple futures and diversity. We found that the processes that used multiple, structurally distinct scenarios explored a wider range of topics and issues shaping places. All four relied heavily on professional stakeholders as the scenario developers, limiting public input. Only one of the processes that included multiple futures captured the differential effects that scenarios would have on diverse people and interests. Overall, the purpose of the scenario planning drove the participant diversity and ultimately the quality and use of the scenarios.


This is the author manuscript of an article subsequently published in the journal Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science.



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