Multi-decisions decision-making: In addition to wheeling and dealing, our national political bodies need a formal approach for prioritization

Thomas Saaty
Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business
University of Pittsburgh
United States

Publication date: Oct, 2007

Journal: Mathematical and Computer Modelling
Vol.: 46- Issue: 7-8- Pages: 1001-1016

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Individuals, corporations and governments constantly face the extremely complex problem of ordering and prioritizing their numerous decisions according to urgency and importance. They need to sequence expenditures and allocate scarce resources to optimize the returns on their investments over time. Prioritization requires general and diverse economic, social, political, environmental, cultural and other criteria that reach beyond the familiar process of deciding on the best alternative in making a single decision. Decisions about decisions are more difficult as the best choice for each particular decision is often unknown requiring a large amount of time and resources to determine. There are three cases to consider: (1) the best alternative in each decision is known, (2) the best alternative in each decision is unknown, and (3) a combination of these two cases. What are the values and criteria that we need to use to prioritize the decisions themselves as the alternatives of a more general decision process? Decision-making often involves, among other things, generating alternatives, setting priorities, choosing a best alternative, allocating resources, determining requirements, predicting outcomes, designing systems, optimizing performance, insuring the stability of a system, planning, and resolving conflicts. Government decisions are even more complex than those of corporations: corporations do not have the issues with pressure from all sides that governments have, nor do they involve as much politics. And they are much more resource oriented than governments that tend to make their decisions easier with narrower constraints.

Keywords: Decision making, Government