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Advances in Operations Research
Volume 2018, Article ID 8290434, 14 pages
Research Article

Measuring Conflicts Using Cardinal Ranking: An Application to Decision Analytic Conflict Evaluations

1Dept. of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Box 7003, SE-164 07 Kista, Sweden
2Dept. of Information Systems and Technology, Mid Sweden University, SE-851 70 Sundsvall, Sweden
3International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, IIASA, Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria

Correspondence should be addressed to Tobias Fasth;

Received 23 February 2018; Revised 28 May 2018; Accepted 11 July 2018; Published 27 September 2018

Academic Editor: Alessandra Oppio

Copyright © 2018 Tobias Fasth et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


One of the core complexities involved in evaluating decision alternatives in the area of public decision-making is to deal with conflicts. The stakeholders affected by and involved in the decision often have conflicting preferences regarding the actions under consideration. For an executive authority, these differences of opinion can be problematic, during both implementation and communication, even though the decision is rational with respect to an attribute set perceived to represent social welfare. It is therefore important to involve the stakeholders in the process and to get an understanding of their preferences. Otherwise, the stakeholder disagreement can lead to costly conflicts. One way of approaching this problem is to provide means for comprehensive, yet effective stakeholder preference elicitation methods, where the stakeholders can state their preferences with respect to actions part of the current agenda of a government. In this paper we contribute two supporting methods: (i) an application of the cardinal ranking (CAR) method for preference elicitation for conflict evaluations and (ii) two conflict indices for measuring stakeholder conflicts. The application of the CAR method utilizes a do nothing alternative to differentiate between positive and negative actions. The elicited preferences can then be used as input to the two conflict indices indicating the level of conflict within a stakeholder group or between two stakeholder groups. The contributed methods are demonstrated in a real-life example carried out in the municipality of Upplands Väsby, Sweden. We show how a questionnaire can be used to elicit preferences with CAR and how the indices can be used to semantically describe the level of consensus and conflict regarding a certain attribute. As such, we show how the methods can provide decision aid in the clarification of controversies.