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Studying the generation of alternatives in public policy making processes

Ferretti, Valentina, Pluchinotta, Irene and Tsoukiàs, Alexis (2019) Studying the generation of alternatives in public policy making processes. European Journal of Operational Research, 273 (1). pp. 353-363. ISSN 0377-2217

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.ejor.2018.07.054


The design of alternatives is an essential part of decision making that has been less studied in theory and practice compared to alternatives’ evaluation. This topic is particularly relevant in the context of public policy making, where policy design represents a crucial step of the policy cycle since it determines the quality of the alternative policies being considered. This paper attempts to formalise the decision aiding process in two real interventions dealing with alternatives’ generation for territorial policy making in Italy. The aim of this research is to understand what generates novelty within the alternatives’ design phase of a decision aiding process, i.e. what allows to expand the solution space and discover new alternatives to solve the problem under consideration. It demonstrates ways in which novelty in decision processes can be supported by Operational Research/Multicriteria Decision Aiding tools. The two case studies are used to answer the following questions: (i) Why have new alternatives arose during the policy making process? (ii) How have they been generated? (iii) Which consequences did they lead to? and (iv) What generated novelty in the process? The results highlight two main reasons that can expand the solution space within a decision aiding process: (i) dissatisfaction (of the client, of the analyst or of the relevant stakeholders, especially when dealing with public policies) with respect to the solutions currently proposed to the decision making problem and (ii) opportunity for a change in one of the variables/constraints.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: Management
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2019 12:15
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:55

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