An objective is a perspective that serves to guide the structuring of decision rules. (Eastman 2006). A comprehensive objective reflects all concerns relevant to the decision problem. The concept of an objective is made operational by assigning to each objective under consideration one or more attributes that, directly or indirectly, measure the level of an objective achievement. An objective indicates the direction of improvement of one or more attributes; objectives are functionally related to or derived from a set of attributes. The relationship between objectives and attributes has a hierarchical structure. At the highest level are the most general objectives (root objectives, goals). They may be defined in terms of more specific objectives, which themselves can be further defined at still lower levels. At the lowest level of the hierarchy are attributes, which are quantifiable indicators of the extent to which associated objectives are realized (Keeney and Raiffa 1976; Pitz and McKillip 1984).
Eastman 2006, Malczewski 1999, p. 97, 104
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