Date of Award

Spring 7-22-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Paul Chinowsky

Second Advisor

JoAnn Silverstein

Third Advisor

Rita Klees


Making decisions that involve a large number of variables, series of conflicting objectives, complex requests from stakeholders and limited budgets are challenging, regardless of the field. The context of international development poses additional challenges such as working in low-capacity areas that are unstable with potential social unrest, post-disaster or post-conflict situations and unclear profitability measures. However, there are a variety of decision-analysis support tools, which have been developed to help make these decisions easier and less burdensome. While none of these tools have been molded to the context of international development work specifically, the foundation they establish helps to understand how to prioritize the categories that influence a decision and then how to assess potential options against those categories. The Analytical Hierarchy Process is a decision support tool, nested within the Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis tool kit, which has become recognized for its ease of use and transparency.

The purpose of this paper is to examine how the AHP can be used in the context of international development decisions, what potential additions can be made to the AHP process in order to make it more accommodating to the circumstances of international development and what potentially new approaches can be employed in order to address some of the standing criticisms of the AHP. After extensive theoretical discussion, a more tangible case study from the World Bank is examined, using the developed AHP methodology. The results of the case study demonstrate the role a decision-making framework can play in prioritizing potential investment options. While this paper does not claim to provide answers regarding what potential investment strategies will result in the best outcomes, it does argue that by utilizing a decision-analysis framework and tool, policies and decisions within the field of international development can be made with more transparency, reliability and open discussion from all stakeholders involved.

Available for download on Thursday, January 27, 2022