Plausibility indications in future scenarios

Arnim Wiek, Lauren Keeler, Vanessa Schweizer, Daniel J. Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Quality criteria for generating future-oriented knowledge and future scenarios are different from those developed for knowledge about past and current events. Such quality criteria can be defined relative to the intended function of the knowledge. Plausibility has emerged as a central quality criterion of scenarios that allows exploring the future with credibility and saliency. But what exactly is plausibility vis-à-vis probability, consistency, and desirability? And how can plausibility be evaluated and constructed in scenarios? Sufficient plausibility, in this article, refers to scenarios that hold enough evidence to be considered 'occurrable'. This might have been the underlying idea of scenarios all along without being explicitly elaborated in a pragmatic concept or methodology. Here, we operationalise plausibility in scenarios through a set of plausibility indications and illustrate the proposal with scenarios constructed for Phoenix, Arizona. The article operationalises the concept of plausibility in scenarios to support scholars and practitioners alike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-147
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - 2013


  • Anticipatory knowledge
  • Foresight
  • Future studies
  • Plausibility
  • Probability
  • Scenario assessment
  • Scenarios
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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