ABSTRACT. This chapter is a revision and update of the chapter “Structuring for Decision Analysis” of our book Decision Analysis and Behavioral Research (von Winterfeldt and Edwards 1986). More than 20 years have passed since we wrote this chapter and during this time we gained substantial experience with applying decision analysis to many different government, business, and personal problems. The one lesson that has not changed is that structuring decision problems is the most important and, at the same time, least well understood task of a decision analyst. The three-step structuring process (identifying the problem; selecting an appropriate analytical approach; refining the analysis structure) also has survived the test of time. However, more than 20 years of applying decision analysis have taught us many new lessons, some new tools, and a variety of refinements when it comes to structuring decision problems. We liberally use the text of the 1986 chapter and weave in new materials and ideas as we go along.
This chapter focuses on progressing from an ill-defined problem, articulated often vaguely by decision makers and stakeholders, to a clear definition of the problem and the associated analysis framework. Other chapters in this volume discuss specific structuring techniques using objectives hierarchies (Chapter 7), and belief networks and influence diagrams (Chapter 10). We therefore will touch only briefly on the specifics of structuring problems with these tools and will focus on the general ideas and principles guiding the decision analyst's structuring task.
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