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Importance of criteria weights in composite appraisal of transport projects – a robustness analysis

Anders Vestergaard Jensen


This paper presents a framework for estimating the robustness of
appraisal of transport projects using a composite appraisal methodology
which makes use of both cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and multi-criteria
analysis (MCA). The setting of criteria weights in MCA is often seen as the
most subjective part of the analysis and is frequently a subject for
discussion. The methodology examined here makes use of importance order
for setting the criteria weights. This means that all the decision makers or
stakeholders involved have to do is rank the criteria by their importance. The
setting of criteria weights can make a big difference in the resulting
assessment of alternatives. This paper presents a methodology for testing
the robustness of the assigned weights to the analysis and thereby gives
information about how different preferences about the importance of the
criteria may result in a different outcome of the appraisal. The work on the
two case studies presented in this paper illustrates that the methodology is
particularly useful where groups make decisions, when it is often hard to get
agreement about the setting of the weights. The analysis can defuse a
potentially lengthy debate about the weights and thereby leave more time for
discussing other parts of the analysis among the decision makers. The methodology may be useful in a wide variety of contexts outside the field of
transport projects. 1
Keywords: Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), Decision support,
Robustness, Stakeholder preferences, Decision conference.

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