In the following we will look at aspects of usage, the policy venues where it occurs, the quality of implementation, and the legitimacy and policy relevance of MCA. We first ask why and under what circumstances the application of MCA was initiated and by whom it is used, whether its application has been driven by decision analysts or whether it has been more formally adopted in legal frameworks prescribing it as a tool to evaluate policy options. We then assess the quality of policy formulating processes with MCA based on: (1) their transparency and legitimacy (for example, integration of stakeholders in the process) and (2) the degree to which the results of the policy formulating process through MCA were relevant for actual policymaking.

Multi-criteria Analysis: Its Venues

In this section we discuss venues favourable to the application of MCA. As will be seen, MCA is applied at different levels of governance, with different triggering factors. To get a better insight into the real potential and use of MCA, we go beyond the definition of venues as introduced in Chapter 1. Accordingly, we look not only at the institutional environments where MCA has been applied, but also the processes by which it became relevant to policy appraisal (for example, formal requirement versus experts' decision), the predominant application fields and the policy context.

The users

MCA has been used by various actors to inform policy formulation processes. While the use of the tool is often initiated by analysts as support for local, regional or even national policy formulation processes (for example, Bana e Costa and Oliveira 2002; Petras 1997), governments themselves have also used and recommended its application (Del Rio Vilas et al. 2013; Munda 2004; van Gennip et al. 1997). International organizations have also applied MCA, as shown for example in the UN Environment Programme's use of the method for the evaluation of emissions abatement options (Borges and Villavicencio 2004). In still further cases, a MCA-based research study initiated by analysts without governmental involvement or participation later informed a policymaking process, as was the case in a French study where MCA results became part of the government's strategic programme for flood prevention (Azibi and Vanderpooten 2003).

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