Title: Problem Formulation for Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis: Report of a Workshop

Authors: S. French, L. Simpson, E. Atherton, V. Belton, R. Dawes, W. Edwards, R.P. Hämäläinen, O. Larichev, F. Lootsma, A. Pearman and C. Vlek

Status: Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis, 7, 1998, pp. 242-262.


Keywords: Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA); Problem formulation; Process of decision analysis

This paper reports on a workshop on Problem Formulation in Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis held at SPUDM97. The focus of the workshop was the problem formulation phase which occurs between the analyst meeting a person with a 'mess' and the time he or she begins to analyse a structured problem with several alternatives scored against several attributes or criteria. The objectives were: to share experience on procedures which might be transferable between the methodologies to demonstrate different skills used by the analyst in structuring decision problems; and to catalyse a discussion on the problem formulation phase of an analysis.

Three analysts, who generally approach problems using multiattribute methods, addressed the same problem. The problem used was constructed to be realistic to three decision makers, who had been trained in the issues of concern. There were two sessions. Each analyst was assigned a decision maker and formulated the problem independently in the first session held in parallel. They were each observed by two observers and many of the audience at the workshop. The three formulations were presented along with the comments of the observers and discussed at a second plenary session.

This paper reports the three formulations and observations, remarking on the 'tricks of the trade' employed by the analysts in formulating the problem. The analysts also describe their thinking and their aims in adopting their approach and style of interaction. More general remarks on the process of decision analysis are also offered.