Exploring Job Opportunities for Unemployed Workers in China: An Analytic Hierarchy Process Application

Article excerpt

This study presents a protocol analysis that explores job opportunities for unemployed workers in the Peoples Republic of China. Providing the best job opportunities to workers and, as a result, reducing unemployment levels is a top government priority. However, in a rapidly changing economic system, the situation presents itself as a complex problem to the Chinese. The solution to this problem is complicated by the uncertainties involved in evaluating alternatives. We recognize the selection of the best alternative as a multiple criteria decision and apply the AHP approach as an appropriate solution method.

Introduction

China is rapidly changing from a central planning to a free-market economic system. Under the old system most state-owned enterprises were overstaffed and never pressured to lower production costs. The overriding goal was to meet or exceed the quotas determined by administrators from the central planning office. Therefore the cost of labor utilized in the production of goods was not an issue of concern to managers.

However, as the environment changed, domestic as well as international competition forced many enterprises to seek more cost-effective positions. Labor costs became the number one issue in survival planning. This lead most managers to reduce employment levels. As the demand for labor dropped many former employees were unable to find new jobs. As a result, unemployment has become a problem for almost every family in China.

The Chinese government realizes that unemployment must be addressed and it is determined to help its workers regain employment. Although something must be done to reduce this high level of unemployment, providing the best solution to the problem is difficult. The situation is complicated because there are numerous ways that the government can help the unfortunate. This paper addresses the problem of finding the best alternative to reduce China's level of unemployment.

The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) was applied to the decision making process for selecting the best strategy to help unemployed workers find a job. Unlike other decision modeling techniques, AHP receives little attention in terms of the amount of exposure by academic textbooks in the area of decision science. Nevertheless, there have been a large number of AHP articles published in the literature. It is also interesting to note that AHP, as a decision modeling technique, has been applied to various decision areas.

As reported in Zehedi's (1986) survey these areas of application have been wide spread. They range across the industries of energy, environment, health, manufacturing, architecture, and consulting. They continue through the various fields including sociology, accounting, economic planning, manpower selection, budget allocation, computer selection, portfolio selection, marketing, purchasing, and database system selection. Such a broad area of application suggests fewer restrictive assumptions than other decision modeling techniques. This practical nature of AHP has led to its application in highly diverse areas. This, in turn, has led to the solution of complicated and elusive decision problems.

Although AHP has been successfully applied to at least twenty-seven unrelated areas involving decision problems that were diverse in nature, each of the problems had two things in common: they required the decision maker to rate decision alternatives for evaluation and they involved some qualitative elements. These two important features make AHP applicable to most decision problems, especially to those where qualitative variables are required.

Among the AHP applications published in the literature, two articles are typical examples where the two features are fully utilized in the problem solving process. In the first article Wabalicks (1987) develops an AHP based methodology for evaluating the costs and benefits of implementing a Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS). …