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Keywords:

  • scenario-based role-playing experiment;
  • vignette design;
  • research methods

A scenario-based role-playing experiment is well suited for research seeking to understand how and why operations and supply chain managers, when dealing with complex issues, form their judgments and preferences or make the decisions that they do. As a method for data collection, a scenario-based role-playing experiment deploys varying versions of a descriptive vignette to convey scripted information about specific levels of factors of interest that are hypothesized, upfront, to influence judgments, preferences or decisions. Human subjects are recruited to assume an a priori defined role and, in this role, to then form their judgments and preferences or make their decisions in response to the scripted information conveyed in at least one version of the vignette. For these judgments, preferences or decisions to be useful for subsequent statistical analyses, the vignette and its varying versions to be deployed in a scenario-based role-playing experiment must be appropriately designed (i.e., written and presented) and validated. This commentary speaks to this “vignette design and validation” issue and prescribes a three-stage process to create a vignette with its derivative versions that is clear, realistic, complete (in that it contains all information necessary for human subjects to assume their role and to consequently provide their reactions and responses), and is effective (in that it cues human subjects to perceive the desired levels of the factors of interest).