1 Department of Marketing and Statistics, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 MAPP - Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University4 Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University5 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
The key to a company's survival lies in its ability to adapt itself to an ever changing world. A company's knowledge and competencies must be fitted to the requirements of the environment in which it operates. However, the kind of competencies that ensures a company's survival are not acquired overnight. Consequently companies need to try to be foresighted with regards to what is required to operate successfully not only today but also tomorrow and in five and ten years. Hence, companies are faced with trying to assess how to best prepare themselves for a tomorrow that they can only guess about. Also researchers are forced to be in the forefront when choosing the research area in which they engage in. In trying to aid such assessments, scenario techniques can be useful (von Reibnitz, 1988). A scenario can be thought of as a vehicle for envisioning where the world could go so that we can learn in time to do something different (Schwartz, 1991). Scenarios are known to offer greater advantages over other forecasting methods when uncertainty is high and historical relationships shaky (Fahey & Randall, 1998). Scenario analysis therefore seems better in tune with the current business environment, which perhaps explains the increasing popularity of scenario analysis in business and other organizations. An institutionalised usage of scenario planning can shape a company's ability to act rather than to react in a volatile environment. Emerging weak signals (i.e. indicators of change) can be intercepted at a much earlier point in time. Decoding weak signals can prevent sudden emergency situations to occur or it can turn into unexpected opportunities ready to be taken advantage of ahead of compe-titors (Schoemaker, 1995). However, a scenario is not an end in itself. Only when it is used to help prepare for different possible futures do scenario methods offer real value. A way to try to be better prepared for the future is to deduct competence and research needs given different possible future development described in a number of scenarios. Hence, the aim of this paper is to test the use of scenarios for this purpose. Most scenario studies report mostly on the scenario construction, were as we want to focus on the suitability of scenario methods as a mean of deducting competence requirements and research needs. Also scenario techniques have mostly been used on either a company level or a macro level. Here we apply the scenario technique at an industry level. We hope our experience with the process will be helpful to practitioners who wish to work with scenarios as well as researchers who may be able to learn from our experiences with an expansion of the scenario method. The Danish food industry is chosen as frame for the analysis, since it is an industry with increasing levels of uncertainty concerning the future, based on both new technological developments and changing customer and consumer demands. The process of creating scenarios for the Danish food industry is described as well as the actual scenarios and main results from the three rounds of workshops. This is followed by a discussion of the chosen method as a mean to deduct competence and research needs from scenarios.
MAPP; Kompetencekrav; Forskningskrav; Scenarie; Competence requirements; Research requirements; Scenario
Main Research Area:
Probing the Future: Developing Organisational Foresight in the Knowledge Economy, 2002