Use of scenario planning as a theory-driven evaluation tool

Derbyshire, James ORCID logoORCID: (2018) Use of scenario planning as a theory-driven evaluation tool. Futures & Foresight Science . ISSN 2573-5152 [Article] (Published online first) (doi:10.1002/ffo2.1)

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Theory-driven evaluation (TDE) is an approach for prescribing an evaluation’s purposes, users and uses, general activities, strategies and methods in the form of a ‘program theory’. While widely-used, the literature highlights a number of common deficiencies in TDEs, among which is the tendency for underdeveloped program theories because of a lack of specificity on the theory-creation process, and because the emergent nature of change renders it difficult to identify relevant theory a priori, leading to uncertainty. Theoretical underdevelopment may reduce the effectiveness of change initiatives and make their evaluation problematic due to a lack of clarity regarding what the program was originally expected to achieve, and how. The paper addresses this issue by showing that scenario planning can assist TDE by 1) making explicit initial causal logic and theory 2) facilitating useful debate and discussion among multiple stakeholders 3) facilitating consideration of how contingent and complex causation may lead to unexpected outcomes, allowing for consideration of adaptations that may be needed as a program unfolds. The paper shows that scenario planning is highly congruent with a complex-realist understanding of evaluation that emphasises causal indeterminism. In sum, we show how scenario planning can be used as a theory-driven evaluation tool.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR)
Item ID: 24889
Notes on copyright: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Derbyshire J. Use of scenario planning as a theory‐driven evaluation tool. Futures & Foresight Sci. 2018;e1. , which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions (
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Depositing User: Pamela Macaulay
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2018 11:20
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 19:33

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