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Developing Performance Measures for Complex Evaluations: An Introduction and an Application to Upgrading Infrastructure Systems

Author: Detlof VonWinterfeldt

Publication type: Acrobat PDF

Performance measures define how decision alternatives should be measured to determine how well they achieve decision making objectives. For example, one performance measure for decisions on upgrading an electrical power line is the improvement in service reliability, measured as the annual number of customer interruption hours. Developing and using performance measures is one of the most important and difficult tasks in the evaluation of complex decision alternatives. This paper describes some concepts, suggests some guidelines, and illustrates their use for performance measurement. Throughout the paper, the concepts and guidelines are illustrated with an example of the decision of whether or not to underground a residential electrical distribution line. The example illustrates that the choice of a performance measure can have a powerful effect on the analysis results. In some cases, simply changing the perfomance measure can switch the preferred alternative from undergrounding to leaving the powerline above ground. The paper concludes by suggesting that the development and choice of appropriate performance measures for complex decisions such as infrastrcuture upgrade decisions should be a deliberate step, involving technical experts, decision makers, and external stakeholders.

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Date Created: May 2000; Date Posted: February 2007





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