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Causal maps and the evaluation of decision

Belton, V. and Montbelier, G. (2006) Causal maps and the evaluation of decision. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 57 (7). pp. 779-791. ISSN 0160-5682

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Abstract

Causal maps are widely employed in problem-structuring interventions. They permit a rich representation of ideas, through the modelling of complex chains of argument as networks. The last stage of a problem-structuring intervention is often to identify and agree to a set of potential strategic options. In some circumstances the preferred direction may emerge naturally from a process of negotiation; in others further, more-or-less formal, analysis to evaluate the options and to understand their impacts on the goals could be helpful. Such analysis may help to bring closure to the process. The main aim of this paper is to review systematically the approaches for evaluating options following from the use of a causal map for problem structuring; some directly using the map structure, others working with concepts extracted from, or an external model derived from, the map. Following a proposed taxonomy, each approach is presented, and its advantages and disadvantages are discussed.