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Multicriteria Methods for the Shaping of Research Priorities - A Case Study for Finnish Forestry and Forest Industries


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Title: Multicriteria Methods for the Shaping of Research Priorities - A Case Study for Finnish Forestry and Forest Industries

Multicriteria Methods for the Shaping of
Research Priorities - A Case Study for Finnish
Forestry and Forest Industries
  • Ahti Salo and Juuso Liesiö
  • Systems Analysis Laboratory
  • Helsinki University of Technology
  • P.O. Box 1100, FIN-02015 HUT
  • Finland

  • Research and technology programmes
  • Earlier engagements
  • mid-term evaluation of national technology
    programmes in electronics and telecommunication
    (Salo and Salmenkaita, 2002)
  • ex post evaluation of WoodWisdom, cluster
    programme for forestry and forest industries
    (Salo, Gustafsson and Mild, in press)
  • Case study
  • preparation of a new research programme for wood
    materials science
  • international through Scandinavian collaborations
  • problem context initially characterised by high
    uncertainties, vague alternatives, inarticulate
    criteria for the setting of priorities

Research and technology programmes
  • Characteristics
  • provide additional funding to basic and applied
    research in areas that are deemed vital for
    long-term industrial competitiveness
  • are the key strategic instrument of Finnish
    innovation policy
  • a large number of on-going programmes
  • some 40 programmes funded by the National
    Technology Agency
  • 15 programmes funded by the Academy of Finland
  • usually include a wide range of supporting
    co-ordination activities
  • workshops, seminars, communication activitites
  • Issues in preparation
  • what specific research topics should be included
    in the programmes?
  • what proportion of funding should be allocated to
    the different topics?
  • what horizontal measures are needed to support
    the uptake of results?
  • need for extensive consultation and validation

Wood Wisdom
  • Background
  • the Government launched a programme of increased
    RD funding in 1996
  • a total of 100 MEUR allocated to seven cluster
  • influenced by Porters work on industrial
  • promotion of collaboration among ministries,
    funding agencies and researchers
  • WoodWisdom
  • largest of the cluster programmes with a total
    funding some EUR 33 million
  • National Technology Agency (44) participating
    companies and organisations (33), Academy of
    Finland (15) Ministry of Agriculture and
    Forestry (7) Ministry of Trade and Industry
  • wood as raw material in the pulp and paper as
    well as wood products industry
  • 4 research areas (raw materials, mechanical
    forest industry, chemical forest industry, and
    the operating environment of the forest industry)
  • 21 thematic areas, 34 research consortia, 156
  • 53 companies, 67 research units and 789

Prospective evaluation
  • Approach
  • define the objects of inquiry
  • e.g., projects, research areas, programme-level
  • develop an appropriate methodological evaluation
  • e.g., multicriteria decision models
  • appoint the workshop participants
  • interest, competence, balance of stakeholders
  • consult the funding agencies
  • make use of advanced ICT tools
  • solicit viewpoints from all the participants
  • allow for anonymous feedback as well
  • synthesize and discuss results on the spot
  • Remarks
  • complements but does not replace other forms of
    evaluation research
  • may be helpful in deriving recommendations

Examination of future research needs
  • A) What objectives should be stressed in this
    consortium in the future? Assign 100 points to
    complementary objectives at each level of the

Wood quality variations
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Feedback on the self-evaluation
Context of decision support
  • Earlier programmes
  • Wood Wisdom cluster programme concluded in
    February 2002
  • strong support expressed for continued research
    in wood materials science
  • desire to initiate a collaborative Scandinavian
    research programme
  • joint projects with funding from two or more
  • means of securing higher visibility vis-à-vis
    European funded projects
  • sector faced with increased competition from
    developing countries
  • Challenges
  • the scope of the new programme was unclear in
    Spring 2002
  • messy research topics, approach and objectives,
    no formally approved criteria
  • integration of national and international
  • need for to a structured consultation process
  • consultation - how to obtain structured inputs
    into the planning process?
  • validation - how to validate inputs suggested by
    researchers and industrialists?
  • shaping - how to generate ideas for the shape of
    suggested approaches?

Systematic process structuring
  • Development of domain model
  • a taxonomy of research topics
  • three research areas - one Finnish workshop for
  • sixteen research themes - structured under the
    research areas
  • research topics - proposed by the research
  • construction of a multi-criteria model for the
    analysis of research themes
  • Preparatory consultation
  • circulate a survey to some 60 respondents
  • structured around research areas and themes
  • respondents requested to (1) specify the topic
    and (2) to justify it in detail
  • Participatory workshops
  • examination of survey results
  • assessment of research themes with the help of
    the multi-criteria model
  • development of suggestions for funding

Five research themes
  • Wood or fibre based composite structures
  • New materials from wood-based polymers or
  • Biotechnical, chemical or physical modification
    of wood raw material
  • Innovative applications of traditional wood and
    fibre products
  • Methods of controlling market-oriented
    utilization of wood raw material
  • Socio-economic aspects treated as a horizontal

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Workshop objectives
  • Validation of preparatory work
  • do the results of the preparatory work fully
    reflect future research needs?
  • what further topics should be pursued in the
  • how such this collaboration be managed ?
  • Shaping of research priorities
  • how do the research themes relate to the given
  • what research themes should the most funding be
  • what considerations should be accounted for in
    the shaping of priorities?
  • e.g., dedicated infrastructures
  • International research collaboration
  • which research themes call for collaboration
    beyond Scandinavia?
  • with whom should internation collaboration be
  • EU (Framework Programme VI), US, Japan, Far East
  • what measures should be taken to promote such

Distributed decision support system
  • Client-server architecture
  • tailored on the basis of the RICH
    Decisions-software (http//
  • client-nodes
  • solication of evaluations and written comments
    from the experts
  • server
  • aggregation of evaluative statements and written
  • presentation of results using several modes
  • linked via a wireless local area network
  • Weighting of criteria
  • correct criteria weights difficult to obtain
  • depends in part on the research theme in
  • Rank Inclusion in Criteria Hierarchies (Salo and
    Punkka, 2003)
  • novelty of topics and research competencies
    equally important
  • industrial relevance and capabilties for
    exploitation equally important

  • Introduction 30 min
  • presentation of participants, workshop agenda,
    objectives and tools
  • results from the preparatory work in Finland and
  • Analysis of research themes (à 30 min) 2 h 30
  • initial comments on presentations (10 min)
  • appraisal of research themes (10 min)
  • discussion (10 min)
  • Identification of focal research topics 30
  • results from the appraisal of research themes (10
  • proposals for resources allocation (10 min)
  • discussion (10 min)
  • International collaboration 30 min

  • Time horizons
  • roughly about 5-10 years - subject to discussion
  • what should be achieved through the programme in
    view of the longer term?
  • Constructive appraisal of research themes
  • what measures should be taken to foster
    innovative capabilities within each of the
    research themes?
  • what specific research topics would be
    particularly promising?
  • International dimensions
  • what priorities should be set for Scandinavian
    research collaboration
  • what kind of research collaboration is needed
    beyond Scandinavia?

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Observations (1/2)
  • Combinationof formal analysis and informal
  • a joint understanding units of analysis
    obtained after discussions only
  • survey and discussions
  • formal analysis helps in the pooling of aggragate
  • positioning of themes does highlight differing
  • still a rather subjective presentation
  • complemented by informal discussions
  • Structure of the multi-criteria model
  • relatively small models may work best
  • more time to explain what the criteria are
    intended to mean
  • at times rather large models have been suggested
  • not all criteria are applicable to all research
  • only a limited amount of time can be devoted to
    each theme
  • less time to generate qualitative insights

Observations (2/2)
  • Process redundancies
  • multiplicity of approaches may contribute to
  • direct questions vs indirect analysis
  • if allocation of resources is a key question -
    pose it directly as such!
  • indirect analysis (multi-criteria) may justify
  • exploration of differences
  • these may reveal hidden assumptions that are not
    otherwise accounted for
  • Decision support system
  • allows for systematic elicitation of inputs from
    all participants
  • level of expertise also accounted for in the
    Finnish workshops
  • anonymous comments also accommodated
  • a written track-record produced for later
  • less need to write consultancy reports

Publications (2001?)
Gustafsson, J., A. Salo, T. Gustafsson (2001).
PRIME Decisions An Interactive Tool for Value
Tree Analysis, in M. Köksalan, S. Zionts (eds.),
Multiple Criteria Decision Making in the New
Millennium, Lecture Notes in Economics and
Mathematical Systems 507, Springer-Verlag,
Berlin, 2001. Salmenkaita, J.-P, A. Salo (2002)
Rationales for Government Intervention in the
Commercialization of New Technologies, Technology
Analysis Strategic Management 14/2, 183-200.
Salo, A. (2001) Incentives in Technology
Foresight, International Journal of Technology
Management 21/7-8, 694-710. Salo, A., K. Cuhls
(2003) Technology Foresight - Past and Future,
Journal of Forecasting 22/2-3, 79-82. Salo, A.,
T. Gustafsson (in press) A Group Support System
for Foresight Processes, International Journal of
Technology Management. Salo, A., T. Gustafsson,
R. Ramanathan (2002) Multicriteria Support for
Foresight Processes. Journal of Forecasting
22/2-3, 235-256. Salo, A., R.P. Hämäläinen
(2001) Preference Ratios in Multiattribute
Evaluation (PRIME) Elicitation and Decision
Procedures under Incomplete Information, IEEE
Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics
31/6, 533-545. Salo, A., O. Kuusi (2001)
Developments in Parliamentary Technology
Assessment in Finland, Science and Public Policy
28/6, 453-464. Salo, A., T. Käkölä (in press)
Groupware Support for Requirements Management in
New Product Development, Journal of
Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce.
Salo, A., T. Gustafsson, P. Mild (in press)
Prospective Evaluation of a Cluster Program for
Finnish Forestry and Forest Industries,
International Transactions on Operations
Research. Salo, A., Salmenkaita, J.-P. (2002)
Embedded Foresight into RTD programs,
International Journal of Technology, Policy and
Management 2/2, 167-193.