Structuring decision problems: A case study and reflections for practitioners

Publication Type: 
Published Articles & Papers
Detlof von Winterfeldt
Barbara Fasolo
This article reviews several approaches to problem structuring and, in particular, the three-step structuring process for decision analysis proposed by von Winterfeldt and Edwards: (1) identifying the problem; (2) selecting an appropriate analytical approach; (3) developing the a detailed analytic structure. This three-step process is re-examined in the context of a decision analysis of alternative policies to reduce electromagnetic field exposure from electric power lines. This decision analysis was conducted for a public health organization funded by the California Public Utilities Commission and it was scrutinized throughout by interested stakeholders. As a result a significant effort went into structuring this problem appropriately, with some successes and some missteps. The article extracts lessons from this experience, updating existing guidance on structuring problems for decision analysis, and concluding with some general insights for problem structuring.