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An Evaluation of Multiple Objective Decision Support Weighting Techniques in Natural Resource Management

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Multiple objective decision support (MODS) is a structured framework for evaluating decision alternatives against multiple, and often conflicting, criteria. Its ability to handle complex trade-offs in a variety of quantitative and qualitative units gives it much potential in the field of natural resource management (NRM). A key component of MODS is the process used to obtain information from decision makers on the relative importance of evaluative criteria. Ranking algorithms then use this information to determine the relative value of each decision alternative. This paper explores how practising community based NRM decision makers respond to five generic methods for weighting the criteria. It presents a study in which 55 decision makers throughout five regions in Queensland, Australia, applied MODS to evaluate environmental projects seeking funding under the Australian Natural Heritage Trust. Weighting methods applied include fixed point scoring, rating, ordinal ranking, a graphical method and paired comparisons. Decision makers evaluated each weighting method in terms of ease of use and of how much it helped clarify the decision problem. Results show that decision makers felt uncomfortable applying fixed point scoring and generally preferred to express their preferences through ordinal ranking. This has implications for the types of ranking algorithms that can be applied to evaluate the decision alternatives.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Geographical Sciences and Planning, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2000

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