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Preference Analysis and Decision Support in Negotiations and Group Decisions

Group Decis Negot (2017) 26:649–652
DOI 10.1007/s10726-017-9538-6
Preference Analysis and Decision Support
in Negotiations and Group Decisions
1·Tomasz Wachowicz2
Published online: 21 June 2017
© The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication
1 Introduction
Making individual decisions is often challenging because the decision maker needs
to take into consideration many different alternatives and conflicting issues (criteria)
at the same time. The situation becomes even more challenging when decisions need
to be made jointly or negotiated by many decision makers, each having their own
viewpoints, preferences, aspirations or reservation levels. To find decision that would
satisfy, at least partially, the needs of all parties involved, quantitative measurements
may be introduced that allow the expression of the decision makers’ preferences in a
more precise (numerical) way. Such measurements facilitate the analysis of how well
the different alternatives meet the parties’ goals and find those that build an equilibrium
from the viewpoint of mutual quality and effectiveness.
Various formal methods and techniques may be applied for supporting group deci-
sion makers and the negotiators in defining their goals, eliciting preferences and
building the quantitative scoring systems required to evaluate the alternatives. They
are mainly derived from the field of the multiple criteria decision making/aiding
(MCDM/A; Figuera et al. 2005) and game theory (Brams 2003). However, they need
to be modified and adopted so that they fit the context of negotiation and group decision
making, and meet the cognitive and perceptional capabilities of all parties involved
BAdiel T. de Almeida
BTomasz Wachowicz
1Center for Decision Systems and Information Development, Universidade Federal de
Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil
2Department of Operations Research, University of Economics in Katowice, Katowice, Poland
650 A. T. de Almeida, T. Wachowicz
in the decision making process, as required by the principles of negotiation analysis
(Raiffa et al. 2002). Recent group decision and negotiation literature provides many
examples of research focused on both methodological and organizational issues and
referring to the real-world examples or experimental results. For instance, the dedicated
context dependent algorithms and protocols for structuring group decision or negoti-
ation problems and processes are developed taking into account various viewpoints
represented by all stakeholders involved [e.g. Bichler et al. (2003), Eden (2004)]. New
methods and techniques for preference elicitation and scoring systems formation take
into account the negotiation process dynamics, imprecise preference information and
a changeable nature of the problems [e.g. Guo et al. (2003), Roszkowska and Wachow-
icz (2015)]. The issues of preference aggregation in a multi-party context are studied
in order to find a balance between classic group decision consensual approach and
majority or plurality recommendations resulting from various voting procedures [e.g.
Kadzi´nski et al. (2013), Morais and Almeida (2012), Nurmi (2002)]. There are also
studies devoted to the empirical verification of various decision making approaches,
focused on confirming or falsifying the current paradigms and concepts [e.g. Danielson
et al. (2008), Vetschera (2007)].
Within this special issue five papers reporting on novel research are presented; each
focuses on selected issues of multiple group decision making processes and problem.
2 Articles in this Issue
In the first paper Antonio Jimenez-Martin, Eduardo Gallego, Alfonso Mateos and
Juan A. Fernandez del Pozo present an extension of the additive multi-attribute utility
model with veto values that is used to solve a problem of the restoration of an aquatic
ecosystem contaminated by radionuclides. The problem they consider involves partial,
imprecise or incomplete information about the alternative performances and decision
makers’ preferences, which result in a degree of uncertainty. Hence, they implement
a dominance measuring method to determine the individual rankings for decision
makers and aggregate them into a collective decision taking into account their relative
importance. The use of the veto concept in MCDM/A has received attention in recent
studies, particularly for its applicability in additive aggregation models, dealing with
the compensatory effects of such models, when they are unattractive from the decision
makers’ preferences point of view.
The second paper is focused on the verification of using surrogate weights in multi-
ple criteria decision making. Mats Danielson and Love Eckenberg examine a problem
of determining a reliable system of criteria weights out of the preferential informa-
tion provided by the decision makers in ordinal way, and verify the performance of
selected techniques that operate with surrogate weights. They use different conver-
sions of ordinal defined weights into their cardinal equivalents, among others, the
rank sum, rank reciprocal and centroid based weights, and compare their robustness
using simulation-based approach. This work explores the use of partial information for
preference modeling, which has received a growing attention in literature due to the
possibility of reducing elicitation errors when requiring less information from decision
Preference Analysis and Decision Support in Negotiations... 651
The third paper considers the multi objective optimization problems. Miłosz
Kadzi´nski and Michał K. Tomczyk focus on hybridizing the interactive and evolution-
ary approach to solving optimization problems assuming that the preference model
is obtained from the decision makers in indirect way, i.e. using the preference dis-
aggregation approach. Developing their extensions of NEMO-GROUP method they
analyze various ways of determining the compromising solutions with respect to dif-
ferent representative functions derived for individual decision makers or jointly for
the whole group of decision makers. They simulate the efficacy of their methods using
several problems with different numbers of objectives and decision makers and their
pre-defined individual value functions. This way they show that NEMO-GROUP is
quite a flexible support tool and that the workload related to the number of pairwise
comparisons may be decreased by adjusting the elicitation interval and starting gen-
eration of the elicitation.
In the fourth paper Marcella Maia Urtiga, Danielle Costa Morais, Keith W. Hipel and
Marc Kilgour analyze the problem of supporting the watershed committees in choosing
among combinations of alternatives. They developed a method that allows to rank the
combinations of alternatives individually for each decision maker first and then to
aggregate the individual results into a group decision applying the voting mechanism.
The option prioritizing approach is used to elicit the decision makers’ individual
preferences during an interactive procedure and by means of ordinal judgements.
Then the weighted voting system that implements the classification by quartile is used
to find what can be called a fair mutual solution. As an example of using the proposed
approach the problem of choosing the alternative to prevent the watershed degradation
in Brazil is analyzed.
Acknowledgements We are deeply grateful to our reviewers and advisors for giving their feedback to the
authors of our special issue papers. We truly believe that their thorough comments and suggestions played
a significant role in improving all the submissions and make our special issue a valuable contribution to
group decision and negotiation literature.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Interna-
tional License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution,
and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the
source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Bichler M, Kersten G, Strecker S (2003) Towards a structured design of electronic negotiations. Group
Decis Negot 12(4):311–335
Brams SJ (2003) Negotiation games: applying game theory to bargaining and arbitration. Routledge, London
Danielson M, Ekenberg L, Ekengren A, Hökby T, Lidén J (2008) Decision process support for participatory
democracy. J Multicrit Decis Mak 15(1–2):15–30
Eden C (2004) Analyzing cognitive maps to help structure issues or problems. Eur J Oper Res 159(3):673–
Figuera J, Greco S, Ehrgott M (eds) (2005) Multiple criteria decision analysis: state of the art. Springer
Verlag, Boston
Guo Y, Müller JP, Weinhardt C (2003) Learning user preferences for multi-attribute negotiation: an evo-
lutionary approach. In: Proceedings of international central and eastern European Conference on
multi-agent systems, Springer, pp 303–313
652 A. T. de Almeida, T. Wachowicz
Kadzi´nski M, Greco S, Słowi ´nski R (2013) Selection of a representative value function for robust ordinal
regression in group decision making. Group Decis Negot 22(3):429–462
Morais DC, de Almeida AT (2012) Group decision making on water resources based on analysis of individual
rankings. Omega 40(1):42–52
Nurmi H (2002) Voting procedures under uncertainty. Springer, Berlin
Raiffa H, Richardson J, Metcalfe D (2002) Negotiation analysis: the science and art of collaborative decision
making. The Balknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge
Roszkowska E, Wachowicz T (2015) Application of fuzzy TOPSIS to scoring the negotiation offers in
ill-structured negotiation problems. Eur J Oper Res 242(5):920–932
Vetschera R (2007) Preference structures and negotiator behavior in electronic negotiations. Decis Support
Syst 44(1):135–146
... In general, the negotiation problems are discussed in a wide bibliography. The exemplary papers of Kersten (1988), Kersten and Lai (2007), Kruś (2001), de Almeida and Wachowicz (2017), Wachowicz, Kersten and Roszkowska (2019), Wierzbicki, Kruś and Makowski (1993) present different aspects of negotiations, including analysis, procedures, decision support and enegotiation systems. ...
... The negotiation problems are discussed in a wide bibliography. The exemplary papers (see Kersten, 1988;Kersten and Lai, 2007;de Almeida and Wachowicz, 2017;Wachowicz, Kersten and Roszkowska, 2019) present different aspects of the negotiations including analysis, procedures, decision support and e-negotiation systems. ...
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This paper investigates how agents that act on behalf of users in electronic negotiations can elicit the required information about their users’ preference structures. Based on a multi-attribute utility theoretic model of user preferences, we propose an algorithm that enables an agent to learn the utility function over time, taking knowledge gathered about the user into account. The method combines an evolutionary learning with the application of external knowledge and local search. The algorithm learns a complete multi-attribute utility function, consisting of the attribute weights and the individual attribute utility functions. Empirical tests show that the algorithm provides a good learning performance.