The purpose of this paper is to discuss the value of scenario planning to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), and further examine the challenges constraining the uptake of scenario planning by SMEs.
A conceptual review of the literature on scenario planning in SMEs intended to unpack and capture the possible underlying reasons accounting for the limited uptake of scenario planning by managers/owners of SMEs has informed the formulation of this paper.
The study uncovered that SMEs’ managerial mental models, SMEs’ managerial time orientation, severe resource constraints, and industry complexity are some of the salient factors inhibiting the use of scenario planning among managers/owners of SMEs. The author develops a framework of propositions that account for the complexity and challenges of scenario planning by SMEs for future empirical examination and validation.
The conventional wisdom is that scenario planning is carried out by large and established firms, and that SMEs are unable to adopt and practice the technique. This paper uncovers that SME have substantial needs for scenario planning, but are only able to engage in simple foresight activities such as brainstorming, desk research, networking and expert interviews to monitor their external environment. They are unable to effectively use scenario planning in its purest form as in large firms. By bringing together the reasons accounting for the difficulty of SMEs to practice scenario planning in its purest form as large firms do, the study therefore extends the limited discourse on scenario planning among SMEs. Implications are discussed and areas for future empirical studies provided.
The author would like to acknowledge the anonymous reviewers of this paper. Their thoughtful comments and suggestions on early drafts of this paper greatly helped the author improve it.
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