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Selecting an agricultural technology package based on the flexible and interactive tradeoff method

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The aim of this paper is to solve an agricultural technology packages selection problem by considering multiple dimensions which influence a maize producer’s preferences. The decision-making process is aided by a new multicriteria method for eliciting scale constants in additive models: flexible and interactive tradeoff (FITradeoff). This method works with partial information, obtained from the decision maker (DM), and thus reduces the time that the DM has to spend on the process for eliciting his/her preferences as he/she may avoid answering difficult questions. The decision-making process makes use of a decision support system (DSS), in which the DM interactively gives preference statements in a structured manner. The DSS gives flexibility to the DM, in such way that he/she gives as much information as he/she is willing to. Graphical visualization is provided at each step in order to help the DM’s analyses. Throughout the description of an application, some insights are provided including a discussion of the advantages and features of the FITradeoff method.
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Annals of Operations Research (2022) 314:377–392
Selecting an agricultural technology package based
on the flexible and interactive tradeoff method
Pavel Anselmo Alvarez Carrillo1·Lucia Reis Peixoto Roselli2·
Eduarda Asfora Frej2·Adiel Teixeira de Almeida2
Published online: 22 August 2018
© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
The aim of this paper is to solve an agricultural technology packages selection problem
by considering multiple dimensions which influence a maize producer’s preferences. The
decision-making process is aided by a new multicriteria method for eliciting scale constants in
additive models: flexible and interactive tradeoff (FITradeoff). This method works with partial
information, obtained from the decision maker (DM), and thus reduces the time that the DM
has to spend on the process for eliciting his/her preferences as he/she may avoid answering
difficult questions. The decision-making process makes use of a decision support system
(DSS), in which the DM interactively gives preference statements in a structured manner.
The DSS gives flexibility to the DM, in such way that he/she gives as much information as
he/she is willing to. Graphical visualization is provided at each step in order to help the DM’s
analyses. Throughout the description of an application, some insights are provided including
a discussion of the advantages and features of the FITradeoff method.
Keywords Multicriteria decision making ·Additive model ·Flexible and interactive
tradeoff ·Partial information
1 Introduction
Decision-making in the context of agricultural production concerns different elements
directly related to cultivating crops such as preparing the land, planting, and conducting
weed and pest control until the harvest is over. Convening for harvesting is closely related
to understanding the properties of a plant (seed variety) and the region in which the crop is
BEduarda Asfora Frej
1Department of Economic and Management Sciences, Universidad de Occidente, Culiacan, Mexico
2CDSID - Center for Decision Systems and Information Development, Universidade Federal de
Pernambuco, Av. Acadêmico Hélio Ramos, s/n Cidade Universitária, Recife, PE CEP 50.740-530,
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... The FITradeoff method can be used in choice problematics (de Almeida et al., 2016), in ranking problematics (Frej et al., 2019), in sorting problematics (Kang et al., 2020), and in portfolio problematics . Thus, the FITradeoff presents a wide variety of real-world applications, such as: energy and environmental applications (de Macedo et al., 2018;Fossile et al., 2020;Frej et al., 2021;Kang et al., 2018;Monte & Morais, 2019), healthcare applications (Dell'Ovo et al., 2017;Camilo et al., 2020), applications regarding public security (Camara e Silva et al., 2019), application in industry context (Frej et al., 2019;Lima et al., 2017;Pergher et al., 2020;Santos et al., 2020;Silva et al., 2019), agricultural context (Carrillo et al., 2018). ...
... Based on the Alpha-Theta Diagram, it is possible to conclude that most of the visualizations have been evaluated with the adequate patterns of behavioral (Diligence or Involvement). Therefore, this study reinforces the holistic evaluation during the FITradeoff decision-making process, which already have been conducted in previous studies (Carrillo et al., 2018;Frej et al., 2017;Pergher et al., 2020;Santos et al., 2020). ...
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This study has been proposed to improve the holistic evaluation in the FITradeoff decision-making process. The study generates recommendations that can support the analyst during the advising process with the decision-maker. A neuroscience tool is applied to conduct a behavioral study. Using an electroencephalogram, the Alpha and Theta activities have been monitored from a sample of twenty-seven management engineering students. The neuroscience experiment is composed of graphical and tabular visualizations. These visualizations represent multi-criteria decision problems, and they are presented in the holistic evaluation phase of the FITradeoff method. As result, the Alpha-Theta Diagram has been obtained, based on frontal Theta and parietal Alpha activities. The Alpha-Theta Diagram is a tool proposed to be applied during the holistic evaluation phase, with the visualizations. Thus, based on the Alpha-Theta Diagram, the visualizations in which the decision-maker presents the adequate pattern of behavioral, with high cognitive effort and high engagement are revealed. Statistical tests show that in most of the visualizations there have been significant cognitive effort and/or engagement of participants. Thus, based on this diagram, recommendations can consider the visualizations that use the adequate patterns of behavioral. As conclusion, the result reinforces which visualization should be used for holistic evaluation during the FITradeoff decision process. For future studies, rigorous investigations should be performed with EEG responses, specially to develop the Alpha-Theta Diagram for participants.
... The FITradeoff method has been made use of in a wide range of practical applications. Thus, it was used in medical applications (Dell'Ovo et al., 2020;Camilo et al. 2020), in energy applications (Fossile et al., 2020;de Macedo, de Miranda-Mota and Sola, 2018;Kang, Frej and de Almeida, 2018), in environmental applications (Monte and Morais, 2019;Carrillo et al., 2018), in a security application (Camara e Silva et al., 2019), and in industry applications (Frej, de Almeida and Costa, 2017;Santos et al., 2020;Pergher et al., 2020; Silva, Costa and Frej, de Almeida and Costa, 2019;Lima, Viegas and Costa, 2017;de Gusmão and Pereira Medeiros, 2016). In order to test the performance of the FITradeoff method, Mendes et al. (2020) performed simulation studies considering several scenarios, including different number of criteria and alternatives. ...
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This paper presents a practical case involving a shopping mall location problem in the northeast countryside of Brazil. In this problem, conflicting objectives have been expressed in terms of seven criteria. Then, ten cities of the northeastern countryside have been selected to compose the space of actions. The problem plays a special role since Brazil is a big country that requires investments in the countryside. Thus, the shopping mall aims to stimulate economic growth in the respective region. In the study, this multi-objective problem is solved using the FITradeoff method. In FITradeoff, the combination of the paradigms of holistic evaluation and elicitation by decomposition in preference modeling are well explored, bringing different perspectives for the decision-maker during the decision process.
... Several applications using the FITradeoff Method, and consequently it DSS, are already present in the literature. Carrillo et al. (2018) used the method to select better technologies for the agricultural sector. Monte and Morais (2019) used the method to support water management. ...
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The technology can support multi-criteria decision-making processes, allowing managers to identify efficient solutions to complex problems in a structured and rational way. Specially, in time of crises, the use of Decision Support System (DSS) is useful since these situations demand greater accuracy in the decision-making process. Therefore, this study shows the usefulness of the Decision Support System constructed for the FITradeoff method in a practical context involving a decision-making in time of crisis. In special, in this study, the applicability of the FITradeoff DSS is discussed to solve an important problem involving a Brazilian Company. The FITradeoff DSS was employed for a compliance-program problem, in which a company sought to improve its performance in relation to the program. This problem is particularly significant in Brazil where the search for compliance programs has been increasing since the adoption of the anticorruption law. Thus, twenty-eight alternatives were created, and these alternatives were evaluated against five criteria. As a result, most of the alternatives in the top of the ranking are related to Internal Communication aspect. Hence, the DM considered that these alternatives are sufficient to direct the efforts to execute the Compliance Program, and in special this theme can be the focus in this company. Furthermore, in view of recurring crises around the world, companies must identify ways to ensure their internal processes support the sustainability of their business. For decision making in times of crisis, the DSS of the FITradeoff method is an effective tool allowing decision makers to handle complex decisions.
The relevance of multiple criteria decision-making/aiding is reinforced by the prominence of these methods in a wide range of applications. Whether by solving problems with a single decision-maker (DM) or a group of DMs, additive modelling, based on value or utility functions, is the most traditional. However, applying this kind of method raises a critical issue: the difficulty in eliciting DM’s preferences and recommending a decision. Actually, it is a hard task for the DM to provide complete information regarding their preferences, because the DM may not be able to provide such information in the detailed way required, or even they may not be willing to do so. From this perspective, the emergence and growth of partial (incomplete or imprecise) information-based methods is indicative that these are a useful way of guiding decision-making as they require less cognitive input from a DM. Thus, this paper systematically reviews the literature on multicriteria decision methods that deal with partial information, focusing on the Multi-Attribute Value/Utility Theory context. Strategic research questions guide a bibliometric and content analysis of 105 peer-reviewed papers selected from the Web of Science (Main Collection). An integrated analysis of the results provides scholars, researchers and other professionals with a deeper comprehension of methodological advances and respective contributions, and of the main challenges and trends in this field of knowledge. Our analysis aims to show that when these methods are applied more reliable decision-making can be achieved.
It has been claimed in the literature that decision-making methods have not been modulated (transformed) by results obtained in behavioral studies as much as has been expected and that further modulation would be an important advancement in decision-making. This paper summarizes the modulation provided by the Flexible and Interactive Tradeoff (FITradeoff) method from behavioral studies performed using neuroscience tools. Modulations of the FITradeoff method have been conducted in two ways: modulations in the preference modelling process and modulations in the FITradeoff Decision Support System (DSS). For modulation in FITradeoff preference modeling, several recommendations were provided to support analysts during their advising process with decision-makers. For modulation in the FITradeoff DSS, several improvements were implemented in the design of the DSS. The modulation of the FITradeoff method was supported by neuroscience experiments. These experiments investigated decision-makers’ (DMs) behavior when they interacted with a holistic evaluation and elicitation by decomposition in the FITradeoff method. The modulation of the FITradeoff method promoted the inclusion of some features through the combination of the two paradigms of preference modeling, completely transforming the decision-making process, and its DSS.
The study demonstrates the flexible functioning of the FITradeoff method that integrates the Holistic Evaluation with the Elicitation by Decomposition. For that purpose, the new features of the FITradeoff method in which integrates the two paradigms of preference modeling have been explored to solve a real multi-criteria decision problem. In this paper, a truck acquisition problem, at a midsize carrier faced with an uncertain and turbulent scenario due to the Coronavirus pandemic, was solved using the FITradeoff method. In this problem, seven criteria were considered to represent the Decision-Maker objectives. Also, six trucks (alternatives) have been examined by the Decision-Maker (Financial Director). The FITradeoff DSS supported the company as to obtain, through the combination of Holistic Evaluation and Elicitation by Decomposition, a ranking of all the trucks based on the preferences expressed during the decision process to ensure lower costs and higher profits in the long run, also guaranteeing a quicker (more efficient) resolution of the problem.KeywordsFITradeoff methodElicitation processHolistic evaluationMulti-criteria decision making/Aiding (MCDM/A)Truck acquisition
The current global scenario of a greater scarcity of resources, uncertainty in several dimensions and problems that seek to reconcile multiple criteria to achieve the best possible results are issues commonly related to problems of selecting a portfolio of projects. This paper presents a new proposal for using the flexible and interactive method, FITradeoff, for portfolio decision analysis in the presence of possible partial information about decision-makers’ preferences. The proposed approach, specifically, uses the concept of c-optimal portfolios and refinement strategies of feasibility and efficiency during the process of generating a portfolio while endeavoring to keep both computational and cognitive efforts within reasonable limits. This approach is built into a Decision Support System. After applying several tests, what can be concluded from the computational results in randomly generated instances is that this method exhibits good performance both in terms of minimizing the computational effort and reducing the cognitive effort demanded from the decision-maker.
The FITradeoff method is a Flexible and Interactive method used to solve Multi-Criteria Decision Making/Aiding (MCDM/A) problems, with additive aggregation in the context of Multi-Attribute Value Theory. This study discusses the combination of two perspectives of preference modelling in the FITradeoff method for a supply selection decision problem. Five criteria are considered: Price, Product Quality, Delivery Time for supplying, Confidence of the Supplier and Service, associating to the classical objectives of manufacturing and operations strategies. The two perspectives are: the elicitation process by decomposition and the holistic evaluation. The combination of these two perspectives offers flexibility for the decision-maker during the FITradeoff decision process. The FITradeoff is implemented in a Decision Support System, in which the holistic evaluation is performed using graphical and tabular visualizations.
Multicriteria Decision Making/Aiding (MCDM/A) techniques are usually required to solve practical decision-making problems that consider multiple criteria structured based on a value tree. Structuring criteria based on a hierarchy is common specially in problems in which the number of criteria is high, and therefore MCDM/A techniques should be prompted to deal with such situations. The well-known FITradeoff method is being widely applied for solving practical multicriteria problems due to its easiness of use and attractive flexibility features. However, the current version of this method is suitable for dealing with single-level criteria decision problems only. Therefore, in this context, this paper proposes a approach for solving multicriteria decision-making problems with hierarchically structured criteria in the FITradeoff method. This approach uses partial information of preferences provided by the decision maker, based on a structured process within the scope of the multi-attribute value theory, to find the values of the scale constants. The model is presented for both choice and ranking problematics and it is based on the traditional tradeoff procedure, which is axiomatically robust. The model effectiveness is verified after being applied to three problems adapted from the literature to both choice and ranking problematics. As a result, it was observed that in the choice problematic, in all analyzed problems, a single optimal alternative was found and always with 6 or less questions answered. In turn, in the ranking problematic in all cases either a complete order or a complete preorder was found with 17 or less questions answered.
Fruticulture is one of the most important sectors of Brazilian agribusiness, being a strategic segment for the country’s socio-economic development, with mango having significant participation. One of the most complex problems faced by this sector is the assessment of which variety of mango to grow in new farms, given the long period of time to have the first production and only then, to verify the result of the cultivation. Furthermore, this kind of choice may consider different technical aspects and stakeholders’ viewpoints. In that perspective, this paper presents a case study of an agribusiness organization, which is one of the greatest exporting company of Mango from Brazil, that needs to evaluate which variety to plant in new farms intending to double its cultivable area in the next five years. It was developed a group decision process, appropriate to the company’s organizational structure, with four phases: 1) definition of the actors, criteria, and identification of alternatives, 2) individual assessment by each decision-maker, 3) application of the framework for choosing a voting procedure; 4) collective result. Based on the results achieved, besides the recommendation of the mango variety to be planted, with this new approach of group decision, it was also possible to enrich the discussion in the process of analysis of the expansion of planted areas, in addition to fostering support for strategic planning for the company’s growth in a sustainable way.
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In Briata et al. (AUCO Czech Econ Rev 6:199–208, 2012), the authors introduce a cooperative game with transferable utility for allocating the gain of a collusion among completely risk-averse agents involved in the fair division procedure introduced by Knaster (Ann Soc Pol Math 19:228–230, 1946). In this paper we analyze the Shapley value (Shapley, in: Kuhn, Tucker (eds) Contributions to the theory of games II (Annals of Mathematics Studies 28), Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1953) of the game and propose its use as a measure of the players’ attitude towards collusion. Furthermore, we relate the sign of the Shapley value with the ranking order of the players’ evaluation, and show that some players in a given ranking will always deter collusion. Finally, we characterize the coalitions that maximize the gain from collusion, and suggest an ad-hoc coalition formation mechanism.
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This paper contributes to the process of eliciting additive model scale constants in order to support choice problems, thereby reducing the effort a decision maker (DM) needs to make since partial information with regard to DM preferences can be used. Procedures related to eliciting weights without a tradeoff interpretation of weights are justified based on assumptions that DM is not able to specify fixed weight values or if DM is able to do so, this would not be reliable information. As long as partial information is provided, the flexible elicitation procedure performs dominance tests based on a linear programming problem to explore the DM’s preferences as a vector space which is built using the DM’s partial information. To provide evidence of the satisfactory performance of the flexible elicitation procedure, an empirical test is presented with results that indicate that this procedure requires less effort from DMs.
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Processing information is a key ingredient for decision making. In most decision-making cases, information is distributed across various sources that may differ in reliability and accuracy. Various sources and kinds of uncertainty are encountered in the same decision situation. “Information imperfections” is a general term that encompasses all kinds of “deficiencies” (such as uncertainty, imprecision, ambiguity, incompleteness) that may affect the quality of information at hand. In discrete multicriteria decision making, where several alternatives are assessed according to heterogeneous and conflicting criteria, information used to assess such alternatives can also be imperfect. It is rather natural, in such a context, to seek additional information to reduce these imperfections. This paper aims at extending the Bayesian model for assessing the value of additional information to multicriteria decision analysis in a context of imperfect information. A unified procedure for processing additional information has been proposed in a previous work. It leads to prior and posterior global preference relational systems. It will be extended here to include pre-posterior analysis where concepts such as the expected value of perfect information and the expected value of imperfect information are adapted to multicriteria decision making choice problems.
Conference Paper
The selection of a technological packages for agriculture is a complex task. Since selecting the best suited for a particular farm, given the rapid development of technology and the many combinations available, is a difficult problem for the decision maker (DM). This paper deals the selection problem of technological packages identifying criteria and alternatives in a group decision making process. The proposed model presents a multicriteria group decision model for ranking technology packages based on the outranking methods. This model is appropriate for those cases where there is great divergence among the DMs. The methodology can be used for defining rural credits (for adapted technological packages) in order to improve farmer’s competitiveness and profitability.
The problem of ranking a set of technology packages that are best suited for growing crops, is developed with a multicriteria group decision model. The group decision model is based on ELECTRE GD, a group decision method for multicriteria ranking problems, strongly based on ELECTRE III, developed to work on those cases where there is great divergence among the decision-makers. We use a practical case study to show our approach, where a group of decision-makers evaluates among the available technology packages to an agricultural company, in order to select the most appropriate alternative. The proposed model generates an agreed collective solution that aids those decision-makers with different interests, to reach (through an iterative process) an agreement on how to rank the technology packages. The proposed procedure is also based on a preference disaggregation approach for reaching agreement between individuals. To support the proposal of a temporary collective solution, individual inter-criteria parameters are inferred concerning individual and global preference for outranking methods in a feedback process.
Several international research and development organizations are promoting conservation agriculture in a wide range of contexts. Conservation agriculture is based on a combination of three main principles: (i) minimal or no mechanical soil disturbance; (ii) diversified crop rotations and (iii) permanent soil cover (consisting of a growing crop or a dead mulch of crop residues). However, in the face of the diversity of practices that can be associated with conservation agriculture, of goals assigned to agricultural systems, and pedoclimatic contexts, there is still no empirical evidence about the overall performance of conservation agriculture in France. Global assessments of conservation agriculture, with the full or partial application of its principles and in different contexts, are required to provide a more comprehensive picture of the performance of such systems. We tackled these objectives simultaneously, by evaluating 31 cropping systems with the MASC® model (for Multicriteria Assessment of the Sustainability of Cropping Systems). These systems were selected to represent a wide diversity of practices, from ploughed conventional systems to crop sequences based on the full application of conservation agriculture principles. Positive interactions were observed between the key elements of conservation agriculture, resulting in better sustainability performances (particularly in terms of environmental criteria). Nevertheless, the systems most closely respecting the principles of conservation agriculture displayed several weaknesses, principally of a social or technical nature, in this study. Careful attention should be paid to attenuating these weaknesses. A more detailed analysis of the results also suggested that decreasing soil tillage tends to decrease the overall performance of the system unless associated with a diversification of the crop rotation.
The multiple new challenges facing agriculture require the development of innovative cropping systems with high environmental, economic and social performances. Many research programmes are currently focusing on the design of such cropping systems. Some include the multicriteria assessment of cropping systems by diverse methods and approaches. Some of these research programmes are supported by experimental or farmers' networks, generating new opportunities for data analysis and raising new research and methodological questions. In this article, we provide an overview based on a review of 56 articles, comparing the various methods for sustainability assessment in single- and multi-site studies. Articles were classified according to three characteristics: (i) their objectives, (ii) the study design (single- vs. multi-site), (iii) the type of system assessed (fictitious vs. real). Our analysis was structured around four items: (i) the variables used to describe cropping systems and production situations and the use of these variables in the assessment process, (ii) the criteria and associated indicators assessed, (iii) the methods used to explore multiple aspects of the performance of cropping systems, (iv) the use of reference values. We identified key points to be taken into account in multi-site studies. The application of the proposed guidelines to experimental networks should facilitate the identification of high-performance cropping systems and the identification of the drivers of cropping system performance.
This paper proposes the Flexible and Interactive Tradeoff (FITradeoff) method, for eliciting scaling constants or weights of criteria. The FITradeoff uses partial information about decision maker (DM) preferences to determine the most preferred in a specified set of alternatives, according to an additive model in MAVT (Multi-Attribute Value Theory) scope. This method uses the concept of flexible elicitation for improving the applicability of the traditional tradeoff elicitation procedure. FITradeoff offers two main benefits: the information required from the DM is reduced and the DM does not have to make adjustments for the indifference between two consequences (trade-off), which is a critical issue on the traditional tradeoff procedure. It is easier for the DM to make comparisons of consequences (or outcomes) based on strict preference rather than on indifference. The method is built into a decision support system and applied to two cases on supplier selection, already published in the literature.