Prioritization of ideas in an affinity diagram by AHP: an example of K-economy

Rafikul Islam
International Islamic University Malaysia

Publication date: Jan, 2013

Journal: International Journal of Economics, Management and Accounting
Vol.: 13- Issue: 1- Pages: 71-108

Abstract: The affinity diagram, which is regarded as one of the seven new management tools, is used to gather a large amount of subjective data concerning an issue and subsequently classify them into several groups. The ideas (or factors) which are similar in nature or have affinity among themselves are placed in a particular group. The procedure of constructing an affinity diagram is to state the issue, brainstorm to collect ideas, sort the ideas into logical groups, develop concise headings for each group and prioritize the ideas belonging to the groups. In the existing literature on affinity diagram, no systematic approach has yet been applied to prioritize the ideas belonging to a group. This paper applies the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), a popular multiple criteria decision making tool, to prioritize the ideas. To show the validity of the proposed improvement to the affinity diagram, the issue of the Malaysian K-economy has been considered as an example. In the brainstorming exercise, 5 academic staff, 2 administrative staff and 6 Masters students take part. In the first phase of the exercise, altogether 49 factors are generated. They are categorized by means of an affinity diagram and subsequently, using the AHP, priorities of the items belonging to each category or group are established. This prioritization process isolates the most important factors (pertaining to the issue) in each group. A list comprising the most important factors has been formed by taking the factors of higher priorities from each group. In the second phase of the study, again using the AHP, priorities of the important factors in the list are established. A brief description of the 10 higher ranked factors in the list are provided. The inner strength of the proposed modified affinity diagram is its capability to identify the most important factor(s) behind the issue under investigation. In the organizational context, the diagram can help managers focus on the key factors pertaining to an issue.

Keywords: Affinity diagram, K-economy, AHP