A Multiattribute Utility Model for Incorporating Risk in Fire Management Planning

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Abstract:

The potential variability of investment returns often perplexes the investment selection process. On national forests, the relative efficiency of alternative fire management strategies is investigated using a modification of traditional cost plus loss methods. Current procedures do not indicate potential variability in the performance of these alternatives, however. A multiattribute utility model is presented as the appropriate framework for evaluating alternatives when decision-makers are concerned with the risk and efficiency implications of selecting a particular strategy. Among fire management planners, the term risk usually relates a perception of the variability of potential damages. A risk measure is defined and an index is created to indicate the performance of each fire management strategy relative to the potential performance of a standard established as a benchmark. Utility functions for the risk attribute were assessed using hypothetical lotteries where the value (utility) of risk was a function of its deviation from a risk benchmark. Two-attribute utility functions indicated surveyed respondents' preferences for attaining risk and efficiency related objectives. Analysis yielded two conclusions: (1) that fire management planners are not risk-averse, and (2) including risk as an attribute of the decision problem can significantly influence investment selection. Forest Sci. 32:1032-1048.

Keywords: Decision analysis; economics; risk/return

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Professor, Department of Forest and Wood Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523

Publication date: December 1, 1986

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