Survey of Value-Focused Thinking: Applications, Research Developments, and Areas for Future Research

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Systems Engineering

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Publication Title

Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis

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Criteria are the central focus of multi-criteria decision analysis (CDA). Many authors have suggested using our values (or preferences) to define the criteria we use to evaluate alternatives. Value-Focused Thinking (VFT) is an important philosophy that advocates a more fundamental view of values in our decision making in our private and professional lives. VFT proponents advocate starting first with our values and then using our values to create decision opportunities, evaluate alternatives, and finally develop improved alternatives. This paper surveys the VFT literature to provide a comprehensive summary of the significant applications, describe the main research developments, and identify areas for future research. We reviewed the scope and magnitude of VFT applications and the key developments in theory since VFT was introduced in 1992 and found 88 papers written in 29 journals from 1992 to 2010. We developed about 20 research questions that included the type of article (application, theory, case study, etc.), the size of the decision space (which when given ranged from $220K to billions of dollars), the contribution documented in the article (application benefits), and the research contributions (categorized by preferences, uncertainties, and alternatives). After summarizing the answers to these questions, we conclude the paper with suggestions for VFT applications and potential future research. We found a large number of significant VFT applications and several useful research contributions. We also found an increasing number of VFT papers written by international authors.

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