Group Decision Making: How to Obtain Representative Group Judgments from Individual Judgments

Group Decision Making: How to Obtain Representative Group Judgments from Individual Judgments

Thomas L. Saaty (University of Pittsburgh, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-091-4.ch007
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This chapter introduces a multicriteria decision making method for measuring intangible criteria alongside tangible ones. It relies on the use of judgments when scales are unavailable, and because scales of measurement use arbitrary units uniformly over their entire range, judgment is often needed to determine the significance of reading on such a scale. A brief discussion is given of how individual judgments can be combined to obtain a representative group judgment. An actual example for selecting the best hospice for a terminally ill patient is developed in detail. Numerous examples of application of the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) process around the world are listed along with references to books written on the subject in many languages.
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Decision making is not like measuring something on a scale because it involves human values that are intangible. We make judgments about these intangibles in two ways. One is intuitive and spontaneous and may be the result of long and profound experience. The other is reasoned and deliberative. It relies on both intelligence and the ability to think logically about the many factors that are involved in a decision and the outcome of the interaction and feedback among these factors. It is known that intelligence is not the only factor that determines whether a person is a good thinker and decision maker. Either way by itself may lead to wrong estimates of relations, but usually we use them together to synthesize a richer judgment that is likely to be the wiser way to make a decision. We cannot make a decision without knowing how important each person’s value is in each particular decision and how to combine them all in the appropriate way to get the best decision. How to measure and prioritize these values and trade them off is a primary concern of decision making. In this chapter we delve into the details of the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), including a validation example, and alerting the reader about the stimulus-response derivation of the 1–9 scale, why we should only compare a few elements at a time and the role of inconsistency in that determination. Finally, why the geometric mean, not the arithmetic mean is the only way to combine individual judgments into a group judgment is discussed along with how, when necessary, to include the priorities of the individuals because of their power and expert knowledge.

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