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MISCELLANEOUS

 METHODS  FOR  CONSIDERING  MULTIPLE  ATTRIBUTES  IN  ECONOMY  STUDIES  


 
There   are   many   quantitative   and   nonquantitative   methods   and   techniques   that   can   be   used   for  
analyzing   alternatives   in   which   there   are   multiple   attributes   (objectives   or   factors)   to   be   considered.  
These   methods   are   applicable   to   decision   making   in   the   private   sector   as   well   as   the   public   sector.  
Detailed  presentations  are  beyond  the  scope  of  this  book,  but  the  following  is  a  partial  listing  and  brief  
descriptions  and  examples  of  several  such  methods.  
 
SMART  (Simple  Multi-­‐attributed  Rating  Technique)  
 
1.  Ordinal  Scaling  –  ranking  attributes  in  order  of  decreasing  importance.  For  example,  the  three  relevant  
attributes  for  a  decision  problem  might  be  safety,  cost,  and  completion  (speed).  After  due  consideration,  
decision   maker(s)   might   decide   that   cost   is   more   important   than   either   safety   or   completion,   and   that  
safety  is  more  important  than  completion.  Thus  the  rank  ordering  would  be  
 
1. Cost  
2. Safety  
3. Completion  
 
This  information  could  then  be  used  for  further  subjective  or  objective  consideration  of  alternatives,  as  
shown  next.  
 
Note:  Attributes  may  have  equal  ranking  depending  on  the  decision  maker(s).  
 
2.  Weighting  attributes  –  quantifying  relative  importance  of  attributes  on  a  dimensionless  scale  from,  say,  
0  to  1,  0  to  10  or  0  to  100.  For  example,  the  three  attributes  in  method  1  might  be  weighted  as  follows  on  
a  0  to  100  scale,  with  100  being  assigned  to  the  most  important  attribute:  
 
Cost     100  
Safety          60  
Completion        40  
             Σ    =  200  
 
The   relative   weights   above   can   be   used   as   they   are.   However,   it   is   commonly   thought   helpful   to  
“normalize”   them   by   dividing   each   by   the   total   and   multiplying   times   100   so   that   each   weight   will   be  
points   out   of   100,   which   are   the   terms   in   which   people   commonly   think.   Thus   we   can   “normalize”   the  
weight  above  as  follows:  
 
Attribute   Weight   Normalized  Weight  
Cost   100   (100/200)*100  =  50  
Safety      60      (60/200)*100  =  30  
Completion      40      (40/200)*100  =  20  
  Σ    =  200                                                  Σ    =  100  
 
3.   Weighted   evaluation   of   alternatives   –   quantifying   how   well   each   alternative   (or   investment  
opportunity)   meets   each   attribute   on   a   dimensionless   scale   and   then   summing   the   product   of   the  
“evaluations”   and   their   respective   “weightings”   (from   method   2)   for   each   alternative.   For   example,  
suppose   that   a   decision   maker   is   comparing   alternative   bridge   designs   A   and   B   according   to   the   three  
weighted   attributes   given   above.   Upon   due   consideration,   he   arrives   at   the   following   mostly   subjective  
evaluation  ratings  of  how  well  each  alternative  meets  each  attribute  (on  an  arbitrary  scale  of  0  to  10).  
 
 
Alternatives  
Attributes  
A   B  
Cost   7   9  
Safety   8   6  
Completion   10   9  
 
Table.  Calculation  of  weighted  evaluation  of  alternatives  
 
Alternative  A   Alternative  B  
Normalized  
Attributes   Evaluation   Weighted   Evaluation   Weighted  
Weight  
Rating   Evaluationa   Rating   Evaluationa  
Cost   50   7   35   9   45  
Safety   30   8   24   6   18  
Completion   20   10   20   9   18  
      Σ    =  79     Σ    =  81  
a  Weighted  evaluation  =  normalized  attribute  weight  x  Evaluation  Rating/10.  

 
The   table   above   shows   the   calculations   needed   to   determine   the   weighted   evaluation   for   each  
alternative.  The  footnote  at  the  bottom  of  the  Table  shows  that  the  evaluation  rating  was  divided  by  10.  
This   was   done   merely   to   keep   the   total   weighted   evaluation   in   terms   of   points   out   of   100.   Thus  
alternative  B  is  shown  to  be  slightly  better  than  A  by  a  score  81  to  79.  
 
4.   Alternatives-­‐objectives   score   card   –   displaying   a   matrix   of   alternatives   vs.   objectives   (attributes)  
together   with   numbers   and/or   other   symbols   to   represent   how   well   each   alternative   meets   each  
objective.  As  an  example,  suppose  that  there  are  four  alternative  bridge  designs  to  be  compared  on  the  
basis   of   the   three   attributes   used   in   the   example   above.   The   figure   below   shows   a   typical   “score   card”  
display.  Using  such  a  display,  the  decision  maker  should  be  aided  in  making  his  selection  according  to  his  
subjective   (usually   nonquantified)   feelings   about   the   relative   importance   of   the   various   attributes   and  
the   corresponding   measures   and/or   relative   indications   of   desirability   for   each   alternative.   No   further  
quantification  is  necessary  before  a  choice  may  be  made.  
 
Figure.  Example  alternatives  –  objectives  score  card  
 
  Bridge  Design  Alternatives  

Attributes   A   B   C   D  

   
Cost  (P.W.  in   13   9  
10   11  
millions  of  $)  

   
Safety  (category  or  
rank)  
Good   Fair   Poor   Excellent  

     
Completion  
15   18   20   19  
(months)  

 
Key:       Best  alternative  for  attribute  factor  
 
 
    Worst  alternative  for  attribute  factor