Multi-Criteria Analysis

A Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) is when a project is evaluated by more than just monetary terms. It is a form of appraisal that, in addition to monetary impacts, measures variable such as material costs, time savings and project sustainability as well as the social and environmental impacts that may be quantified but not so easily valued.  

"Analysis which is carried out in monetary terms does not usually, in practice, present the analysts with problems of choosing between the interests of different groups in society. A Cost-Effectiveness appraisal may be comparing options with slightly different outputs, but these differences will typically be weighted by decision makers at a later stage. The valuations used in cost-benefit analysis will include distributional judgements, but these will have been determined at an earlier stage.

A broadly satisfactory criterion which appears to underlie many Cost Benefit Analysis  (CBA) valuations is that they should reflect the informed preferences of people as a whole, to the extent that these preferences can be measured and averaged. This argues in favour of ensuring that the objectives included in any MCA analysis are sufficiently wide to encompass the main concerns of people as a whole."
Source: Department for Communities and Local Government (2009) p12.


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Department for Communities and Local Government (2009), Multi-criteria analysis: a manual. Communities and Local Government Publications, London. Retrieved from

Updated: 14th January 2014 - 1:51am
A special thanks to this page's contributors
Research Assistant, RMIT University.


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