The Tools of Policy Formulation

The Tools of Policy Formulation

Actors, Capacities, Venues and Effects

New Horizons in Public Policy series

Edited by Andrew J. Jordan and John R. Turnpenny

A PDF version of this book is available for free in open access via the Elgaronline platform - Policy analysts are accustomed to thinking in terms of tools and instruments. Yet an authoritative examination of the tools which have been developed to formulate new policies is missing. This book is the first of its kind to distinguish the defining characteristics of the main policy formulation tools, and offer a fresh way of understanding how, why and by whom they are selected, as well as the effects they produce in practice.

Chapter 6: Multi-criteria analysis: a tool for going beyond monetization?

Catherine D. Gamper and Catrinel Turcanu

Subjects: economics and finance, valuation, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public administration and management, public policy


Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) has emerged from the field of operational research and management science as an appraisal tool able to handle complex multi-factorial decision problems that affect several stakeholders and where an equitable, inclusive and transparent decision process is sought. According to the International Multi-Criteria Decision Society (IMCDM 2013), multi-criteria analysis dates back to the 1950s when analysts started to consider multiple objectives for optimality conditions in non-linear programming – so-called ‘Goal Programming’. Since then, a multitude of MCA methods have been developed (some of which will be discussed below) and their use has gone far beyond the realm of operational and business research, as we will demonstrate later in the chapter. To assess the worth of different policy options, MCA aggregates the results on multiple evaluation criteria into indicators of the overall performance of options without enforcing the transformation of criteria and their results to a common – what is in many other tools a monetary – scale. In its role as a decision aiding, rather than a decision making tool, MCA seeks to render the evaluation of policy options transparent to the decision maker and other stakeholders, instead of ‘replacing the decision maker with a mathematical model’ (Roy and Vincke 1981, p. 208).