Like any multi-criteria method, MULTIPOL seeks to compare different actions or solutions for problems according to multiple criteria and policies.
MULTIPOL's aim is to help decision-making by drawing up a simple and evolving analysis grid of the different actions or solutions available to the decisionmaker.
Description of the method
The MULTIPOL method short for Multicriteria and policy is the easiest of the multicriteria methods but by no means the least useful. It is based on the evaluation of actions by means of a weighted average, just as the pupils in a class are assessed by credit weighted units.
In MULTIPOL we find the various classical phases of a multicriteria approach : listing of possible actions, analysis of consequences, development of criteria, evaluation of actions, definition of policies and classification of actions. The originality of MULTIPOL lies in its simplicity and flexibility of use. Therefore, in MULTIPOL, each action is assessed with respect to each criterion, using a simple grading scale. This assessment is obtained through questionnaires or expert meetings, with an attempt at consensus being a necessary requirement. Moreover, the assessment of actions is not undertaken in a uniform manner : participants must take into account the different contexts linked to the objectives of the study. One policy is a weighting scheme applied to the criteria in order to interpret one of the various contexts. Such weighted criteria could also correspond to the various value systems of the actors involved in making the decision, to undecided strategic options or again to multiple scenarios and to evaluations which include a time factor. In practice, the experts apportion a given total weight to all the criteria for each policy.
For each policy, the MULTIPOL procedure attributes an average score to actions.
We can thus generate a chart with profiles of a comparative classification of actions according to policies.
Outlines of placing of sites according to different policies
One must also take into account the risk related to uncertainty or conflictual hypotheses and this is accomplished through a plan which stabilises the placement of actions based on the average and typical difference between average scores obtained for each policy. It is thus possible to test the robustness of the results of each action. Of special interest would be those actions which had a high average but a strong typical difference : that would make them considered hazardous.
Usefulness and limitations
MULTIPOL is a simple and appropriable method which takes uncertainty into account and allows for testing of the robustness of the results from different policies. Thanks to its simplicity, it is also an evolutive method. In fact, it allows users to incorporate new criteria, weighting or actions easily, not only during the survey but after it as well, with a view to enriching the analysis. The simplicity of the aggregation criterion (weighted average). Moreover, eliminates any incomparability between the actions.
However, if the goal is to draw up a plan based on several actions, difficulties might appear in that account must be taken of synergies, incompatibilities and redundancies among the actions retained. Of course, this handicap is valid for all multicriteria methods : hence the need for more sophisticated analysis, there as elsewhere.
The need to take into account the existence of multiple criteria in problems of decision-making has encouraged the development of numerous sophisticated methods which are based on a wide range of concepts and procedures (fuzzy logic sets, the utility function, simplex...). As mentioned in the introduction of this card, MULTIPOL is a simple, operational response which avoids the pitfalls of excessive formality yet still enables one to organise and structure decisionmaking aids.
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