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Managing the Survivor Syndrome as Scenario Planning Methodology … and it Matters!

Bui, Hong T. M., Chau, Vinh Sum, Cox, Jacqueline (2019) Managing the Survivor Syndrome as Scenario Planning Methodology … and it Matters! International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 68 (4). pp. 838-854. ISSN 1741-0401. (doi:10.1108/IJPPM-05-2018-0202) (KAR id:72468)


The importance of foresight is discussed in relation to why traditional scenario planning methodology is problematic at achieving it. The ‘survivor syndrome’ is borrowed from the human resources literature and presented as a metaphor for foresight to illustrate how better ‘scenarios’ can be achieved by understanding the syndrome better. A practice perspective is given on the use of a 7-theme framework as a method of interviewing survivors. The article draws from an empirical research that took place during the 2008 global financial crisis to illustrate the richness of the insights that would otherwise not be obtainable through scenario planning methods that do not involve ‘survivors’. In that research, semi-structured interviews were employed with key personnel at multiple levels of one private and one public organization that had undergone a redundancy process at the time of the crisis to explore its effect on the remaining workforce. The ‘survivor syndrome’ itself would be minimized if managers consider the feelings of survivors with more open communication. Survivors in private firms were found generally to experience anxiety, but are more likely to remain more motivated, than their counterparts in the public sector. These detailed insights create more accurate ‘scenarios’ in scenario planning exercises. Organizational performance can be better enhanced if the survivor syndrome can be better managed. In turn, scenario planning, as a form of organizational foresight, is better practiced through managing the survivor syndrome. Scenario planning methodology has proliferated well in the human resource management literature.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/IJPPM-05-2018-0202
Uncontrolled keywords: foresight; scenario planning; survivor syndrome; strategizing; performance management
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Leadership and Management
Depositing User: Vinh Chau
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2019 12:19 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 05:47 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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