Multicriteria Analysis

The decision to implement a particular land-use plan or a certain alternative that is designed within a project is not based only on the economic and financial analyses. Other criteria, which have to be established earlier in the project, play an important role. Each criterion usually has a specific format and therefore cannot just be compared to each other criteria or added to obtain "score" of a plan or alternative. To make a fair comparison of criteria and alternatives, MCA can be used. It consists of a few steps [22]: A table is made with the value of each criterion for every alternative. This is called the criterion score matrix. Each criterion has different units in which it is measured. To be able to compare them, the values have to be transformed and standardized. To transform means to express the qualitative criteria in a figure (by valuing the qualitative items). To standardize means to express the criteria in equal units with the help of the same formula. All scores are expressed on the same scale so that the criteria are comparible among themselves. The converted criterion scores are put into an effectivity matrix. In the next step, called priority standing, the criteria are weighted. Then it is possible to state which criteria are considered more important than the others. The distribution of weights is represented in the priority matrix. The last step is to multiply the converted criterion scores by the weights and add all values to calculate a total score for each alternative.

Figure 2.5. A systems approach to the study of the cause-effect relationship through drainage systems. Source: [20]. <d

Figure 2.5. A systems approach to the study of the cause-effect relationship through drainage systems. Source: [20]. <d

There are several ways to transform and standardize the values. Each way gives a different total score. Also, the weighting is of great influence on the total score. The distribution of the weights is influenced by the point of view from which the comparison is made. Someone who thinks the conservation of natural beauty is more important than the growth of agricultural output will distribute the weights differently than someone who thinks otherwise. These two people most likely will not have a preference for the same alternative and that is shown objectively by the total scores of each alternative. By using MCA, the personal preferences of the planning team for an alternative will be ruled out (or at least clarified and made public).

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