Some Comments on Conceptual Frameworks for Comparing Alternatives

by Gene Fisher

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Notes used as a basis for informal talks on systems analysis, discussing ways of giving analytical support for long-range planning. The most important function is to provide information that will help decisionmakers compare alternatives. For most long-range planning problems, the specified effectiveness approach and the specified resource constraint approach are likely to be most useful. Theoretically, they are opposites; in practice, however, it is often difficult to formulate equal-effectiveness alternatives, whereas equal-cost alternatives can usually be established. Analysts should provide various quantitative measures of effectiveness, plus qualitative statements and judgments along with results of Delphi or other worth-assessment techniques. Unconstrained benefit/cost ratios are not recommended, since absolute amounts usually are important, and resources are limited.

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