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An alternative approach to making decisions: The analytic hierarchy process


People need to make decisions every day. Apart from quick decisions (e.g., what to eat tonight), many decisions, especially those for business operations, should be made through a systematic process. Among other decision-making methods, the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) is very popular. The AHP was developed by Professor Thomas L. Saaty in the 1970s. It is a structured method for solving complex decision problems. It has three major functions. Firstly, it helps to decompose a decision problem into measurable criteria. Secondly, it helps to assign a weight to each criterion. This is usually referred to as prioritizing (or ranking) the criteria. Thirdly, each possible solution can be scored based on the weighted criteria. It is useful in making business decisions, such as the evaluation of alternative marketing strategies, the selection of candidates for jobs, and so forth, because assigning weights to criteria provide a more accurate judgment. In addition, the AHP differentiates it from other decision-making methods as it employs a consistency test that can purify the responses to the questionnaire, and an iterative process that can improve the consistency of measuring. Comments and discussions regarding the AHP are also provided in the seminar.


Dr Eddie Cheng is Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the EdUHK. He has published more than 50 papers in mainstream journals. His research interests include staff development and training, construction economics, project management, and multi-criteria decision-making methods.