Scenarios: Leapfrog, Lock-In, and Lopsided

46 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2019 Last revised: 21 Feb 2019

Date Written: February 19, 2019


This paper presents the details of three scenarios -- leapfrog, lock-in, and lopsided -- that describe an illustrative set of technological states. Based largely on expert interviews, the paper argues that the technology outcomes are heavily attributable to the actions (or in some cases, inaction) of policy makers and incumbents. For each scenario, the paper presents descriptive levels of technology achievement and market outcomes for the energy, transport, and water sectors. One of the central differentiating features of the three scenarios is the extent to which governments perform their roles as enabling, that is, whether the policies are designed to help or hinder innovations that improve service levels, and distributive, that is, whether the policies are designed to ensure that multiple segments of society reap the rewards of innovation. A question raised as part of that theme is how countries can avoid lock-in, or how they might become derailed into a lopsided scenario. Some institutional behavioral markers of the scenarios were identified in these discussions and are noted in the paper. It is important to recognize that multiple combinations of these behaviors can lead to a lock-in or lopsided scenario. In addition to describing the scenarios in detail, the paper discusses the rationale for their creation, along with a brief discussion on the nature of uncertainty. The paper also describes the methodology employed in the creation of the scenarios, including expert interview methods and a day-long workshop.

Keywords: Hydrology, Transport Services, Energy Demand, Energy and Mining, Energy and Environment, Labor Markets, Intelligent Transport Systems

Suggested Citation

Leifman, Michael Meir, Scenarios: Leapfrog, Lock-In, and Lopsided (February 19, 2019). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8748, Available at SSRN:

Michael Meir Leifman (Contact Author)

Tenley Consulting ( email )

United States

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