The Effects of Scenarios on Decision-Making Quality in Early Design: An Empirical Study

Giácomo Parolin*, Tim C. McAloone, Daniela C.A. Pigosso

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleResearchpeer-review

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Scenario planning is often used in design practice to foster futures thinking, reduce uncertainties and improve decision-making. Scenarios are especially relevant for innovation activities in manufacturing companies, such as technology development, a particularly uncertain process where many trade-offs occur. This study is, to the authors knowledge, the first to empirically measure the effect of scenarios in decision-making quality, in the context of technology development. In a quasi-experiment, engineers from a manufacturing company and university students were independently asked to analyse a trade-off situation between environmental and financial aspects of a technology concept, with and without scenarios. The quality of decision-making quality for control and experiment groups was measured through a standardized questionnaire. The results show that scenarios had a positive impact in 6 of the 7 quality decision-making practices (QMDP), although the effect size is small. The results suggest that both expert and novice designers may benefit from using scenario planning when performing early-stage design activities by having awareness of the decision context, a more structured decision process, and clearer decision criteria.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Design Society
Pages (from-to)3375-3384
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event24th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2023 - Bordeaux, France
Duration: 24 Jul 202328 Jul 2023


Conference24th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2023


  • Decision making
  • Early design phases
  • Futures studies
  • Sustainability
  • Technology Development


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