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Combining grey clustering and fuzzy grey cognitive maps: an approach to group decision-making on cause-and-effect relationships

Abstract

Fuzzy grey cognitive maps (FGCMs) have been widely adopted to support cause-and-effect decision-making under uncertainty. However, capturing the information for the initial state vector and the relationship matrix from various specialists can be cumbersome, which may affect the convergence of FGCMs or cause them to reach a chaotic state. To address this issue, this paper presents a novel group decision approach based on the combination of grey clustering (GC) and fuzzy grey cognitive maps for assessing causal relationships in uncertain environments. The main contribution consists in applying GC as a mean to obtain the initial state vector from the relationship matrix data. This halves the required inputs to the users, reducing uncertainty in the computational model. Also, the proposition brings a method for aggregating the linguistic judgements of multiple decision-makers when assessing causal relationships. The proposition also differs from others in the literature by providing results with lower imprecision levels, named greyness, and lower number of required iterations for the FGCM-based system to converge. A real application was conducted in a technology start-up to test the approach to practical implications. Results allowed the identification of important elements regarding the company’s profile and performance, aiding prioritization and enabling the development of action plans. This paper also includes a comparison of other representative models with the proposed approach, which led to more accurate results. Hence, this study addresses the need for new alternatives to improve the reliability and convergence of FGCM-based systems. Finally, suggestions for future applications are proposed.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), under grant number 2017/23310-6, and the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

Funding

This study was funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), under grant number 2017/23310–6, and the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

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Correspondence to Lucas Gabriel Zanon.

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Lucas Gabriel Zanon declares that he has no conflict of interest. Luiz Cesar Ribeiro Carpinetti declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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Zanon, L.G., Carpinetti, L.C.R. Combining grey clustering and fuzzy grey cognitive maps: an approach to group decision-making on cause-and-effect relationships. Soft Comput 25, 15201–15220 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00500-021-06345-5

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Keywords

  • Grey clustering
  • Fuzzy grey cognitive maps
  • Group decision-making
  • Grey systems theory
  • Organizational culture
  • Start-up