Testing the rhetoric: An approach to assess scenario planning's role as a catalyst for urban policy integration
Policy integration has become a high-priority objective for urban planning and management. At the same time, the transportation and urban planning fields have increasingly employed scenario planning approaches, not only to develop long-term strategy, but also—potentially—to strengthen organizational networks and encourage collaborative action. Yet these latter supposed outcomes of scenario planning remain under-theorized and largely untested. In this study, we propose a methodology, based on established theories of collaboration, to test the ability of a particular type of scenario planning to encourage collaboration between participants. We demonstrate the approach using a scenario planning process undertaken within the transportation and urban planning community in Portugal. The pre-/post-test experimental design uses a survey designed to assess participants’ propensity for future collaboration by measuring change in individuals’ perceptions and understandings. The results suggest that the process likely modestly increased participants’ propensity to collaborate, primarily by strengthening inter-agency networks. The effects on participants’ views and understanding remain inconclusive. We suggest that specific challenges in applying this specific scenario planning approach to public sector contexts may limit the method's potential in achieving inter-organizational collaboration. Nonetheless, only more widespread efforts to formally test the scenario planning rhetoric will reveal the true impacts on organization change. âº Demonstrate an approach to analyze scenario planning effects on participants’ propensity to collaborate. âº Pre-/post-surveys suggest modest effect on factors that lead to collaboration. âº Process may have strengthened inter-agency networks and sense of shared objectives. âº Effects on participants’ views and understanding remain inconclusive.