The role of survey research and scenario development

Date of publication: June 15, 1982


This paper is based on one method of prediction: namely scenarios derived from indirect inference of survey results. Scenarios are a useful perspective within which the complex inter-relationships between the environment, individual business goals, objectives and feasible strategy options can be seen and understood by management. A useful scenario allows one to integrate "soft", social trends into decision making and to reconcile them with the "hard", economic factors. Behind much of the scenario development is the basic idea that what determines a society's characteristics are individual's values and concerns. These are often the motor force behind social change. The refraction and distillation by which changing values and concerns are translated into social change are still very imperfectly understood. But this paper takes one particular phenomenon, namely, the changing attitudes to the family and relates it over the last decade to individual attitude statements from survey research. The relationship between attitude questions related to having children, sexual roles, female careerism on the one hand, and social value shifts on the other are explored with a view to gaining insight into the dynamics of social change.

Elizabeth H. Nelson


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