Journal of the Operational Research Society

, Volume 57, Issue 7, pp 779–791

Causal maps and the evaluation of decision options—a review

Special Issue Paper

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.jors.2602214

Cite this article as:
Montibeller, G. & Belton, V. J Oper Res Soc (2006) 57: 779. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jors.2602214


Causal maps are widely employed in problem-structuring interventions. They permit a rich representation of ideas, through the modelling of complex chains of argument as networks. The last stage of a problem-structuring intervention is often to identify and agree to a set of potential strategic options. In some circumstances the preferred direction may emerge naturally from a process of negotiation; in others further, more-or-less formal, analysis to evaluate the options and to understand their impacts on the goals could be helpful. Such analysis may help to bring closure to the process. The main aim of this paper is to review systematically the approaches for evaluating options following from the use of a causal map for problem structuring; some directly using the map structure, others working with concepts extracted from, or an external model derived from, the map. Following a proposed taxonomy, each approach is presented, and its advantages and disadvantages are discussed.


cognitive maps causal maps problem structuring evaluation of options 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kingston Business School, Kingston UniversityLondonEngland, UK
  2. 2.University of StrathclydeGlasgowScotland, UK

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