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    Description

    The benefits of convening a group of knowledgeable specialists together in a workshop setting to tackle a difficult problem can often be offset by an over-abundance of unfocused and rambling discussion and by counterproductive group dynamics. In light of this workshop paradox, we have created a generic workshop framework based on the analytic hierarchy process, that efficiently elicits both workshop content and products. The 2 key components of this workshop structure are: (1) a straw document that is both generic and hierarchical and (2) pair-wise comparisons of elements at each level of the hierarchy. Top-down levels of the generic hierarchy include: primary topics, key questions, and responses to key questions. We applied this workshop structure to elicit and prioritize research needs for large-scale fire disturbances from a large (25 attendees) group of scientist and managers. Advantages of this approach are: (1) it allows for conceptual workshop facilitation and eliminates most traditional facilitation chores, which aim to mitigate undesirable group dynamics, (2) it does not hinder or burden technical discussions, but rather focuses and enhances them, (3) it allows workshop organizers to efficiently collect and structure ideas generated in technical discussions, and (4) it enables statistical comparisons between competing ideas.

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    Citation

    Schmoldt, Daniel L.; Peterson, David L. 1997. Using the AHP in a Workshop Setting to Elicit and Prioritize Fire Research Needs. Proceedings, 1997 ACSM/ASPRS Annual Convention and Exposition. 4: 151-162.

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