Somik Raha May 2010

c Copyright by Somik Raha 2010 All Rights Reserved


I certify that I have read this dissertation and that, in my opinion, it is fully adequate in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

(Ronald A. Howard)

Principal Adviser

I certify that I have read this dissertation and that, in my opinion, it is fully adequate in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

(Stephen R. Barley)

I certify that I have read this dissertation and that, in my opinion, it is fully adequate in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

(Carl S. Spetzler)

Approved for the University Committee on Graduate Studies.



Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives Non-Commercial License: You are free to use any ideas in this dissertation commercially or non-commercially. You are also hereby granted the right to distribute this dissertation, as long as you do so with attribution, without modifying it and free of charge.


“The small truth has words that are clear; the great truth has great silence.” - Tagore


Decision Analysis is the pursuit of clarity of action, and lies at the intersection of action and thought. Before moving to clarity of action, we need to achieve clarity of thought on our values so that we can make decisions that are consistent with our deepest values. This dissertation focuses on helping decision-makers achieve such clarity by suggesting frameworks to discover, appreciate and communicate sources of value. Apart from the theoretical contributions, several case studies are presented to illustrate the use of such methods to achieve consistent valuation and aid mutual understanding on value.



This dissertation focuses on methods that help decision-makers discover, appreciate and communicate sources of value in order to achieve consistent valuation.



So many people gave the gift of their time and resources to make this dissertation possible. I would like to start by thanking my wife Geetanjali for her unwavering support and love. Without her being my pillar of support, none of this work would be possible. My parents, who have always encouraged me to follow my heart and do research, and my aunt Lipika Phani, who inspired me over Yahoo Chat to not push further studies away any further. I’d like to thank Laura Wilson, Chief of Police, for letting me study the Stanford police department for four years, and for giving so generously of her time to support this research. Through this work, I have not just gained valuable insights into private policing, but also come face-to-face with a police culture that was built with hard work, good intentions and the greatest integrity. My thanks to Prof. Ray Levitt for asking me to connect with Laura, and starting me on a research journey that I could not have imagined. Prof. Rem Edwards from the University of Knoxville, Tennessee, for helping me discover Hartmania, and make sense of the three dimensions of value. My gratitude for the many knocks he gave me for confusing value with valuation. Ariadne Scott, the Bicycle Program Coordinator at the Department of Parking and Transportation Services for being a great collaborator and bike-safety champion. She gave so freely of her time to help me understand the dynamics of bicycle safety and other issues facing the parking and transportation program. Brodie Hamilton, the Director of the Department of Parking and Transportation, for his time, encouragement and above all, a reminder that coercion is a disvalue. The bike-safety work with Ariadne and Brodie helped lay the foundation for the other case studies. Kathryn Gelman, for giving me a rich dataset for bicycle injuries that helped me understand the injury scenario on campus. David Spain, Ellen Corman, Pamela Ishimoto and Wendy Hums from the Stanford Trauma Center for helping me understand the traumatic injury scenario at Stanford Hospital. A special thanks to Ellen for giving me the opportunity to model the value proposition for the “Farewell to Falls” program. Ralph Castro, the Director for Alcohol Education at the Vaden Health Center, for not just giving me the opportunity to model the value of the program but also using the results to make a decision. It feels great to have helped a real-life decision-maker. xi

Dan Pallotta for being a combination of clear head and warm heart, for having the courage to write “Uncharitable,” and by doing so, giving the rest of us the inspiration to follow in his footsteps and focus on value. Thank you for coming down to Stanford and sharing your wisdom with us. Dr. Ira Friedman, Director of the Vaden Health Center, for giving great encouragement and support, and humoring me in deep value conversations. Amy Baldwin at the Vaden Health Center for helping me understand the role of insurance. Ramses Madou at the Department of Parking and Transportation for spending many hours brainstorming carbon offsets and credits. Grant Cunningham, Kay Iida, Linda Saunders, Allen James, Harris Kuhn, Hilary Karp, Marlo Banda and Frank Hom from the Stanford University Department of Public Safety, for their generous gift of time. Randy Livingston, the CFO of Stanford University, and John Hennessy, the President of Stanford University, for letting me draw their value diagrams. Diana Haven and Joanne Thorne from the Department of Risk Management for letting me interview them and model the Car Insurance problem. Tina Dobleman, Assistant Vice President for Risk Management, for being supportive of this research. Steve Hurd and Russell Gulman for letting me interview them in my first iterations of the value diagram. Thomas Seyller and Ibrahim Almojel for being my mentors, teachers, and valued friends in so many ways. The hours spent mentoring and coaching me can never be repaid. Jim Matheson and David Matheson for taking the time to review and give me feedback on my work. Piya Sorcar for helping validate the axiological framework in the context of her inspiring work with “TeachAids.” The Decision Analysis group at Stanford - Brad Powley, Wititchai Sachchamaga, David Caswell, Ahren Lacy, Charles Tripp, Xi Wang, Muhammad Aldawood, Jeremy Stommes, Christopher Han, David Blum and Noah Burbank - thank you for making our research group a great environment to live and work in, and for the numerous ways in which you’ve helped me improve the quality of this work. Noah’s suggestion of using “Value Stories” as a title was right on. Brad’s numerous comments on displaying information really helped improve the quality of this work. Members of the Vedanta Study Group at Stanford who gave me feedback on the axiological framework - Swami Vedananda, Sumanth Jagannathan, Raghu Arur, Sandhya Kunnatur, Sri Palasamudram, Jack Labanauskas, Sue Ann McKean, Rajesh Bhatt, Siddharth Panwar, Ben Smith and Jane Espositpo. Thank you for letting me hijack the class twice for feedback! A special thanks to Sumanth for helping me frame my talk for those outside my field. And I don’t know how to begin to thank Swami Vedananda, who took my value thinking to a level I could not have imagined. A big thanks to Tenzin Tethong for being the subject of my Tibet case study. Tenzin’s compassion and integrity make me believe in the future. A huge thanks to my Han Chinese subject who shall xii

be unnamed. Prof. Burke Robinson for feedback on structuring the value diagram conversation. Prof. Ross Shachter for feedback during the numerous seminar presentations. Prof. Debra Satz feedback early on as I was getting my feet wet with Axiology. The CharityFocus posse - Nipun, Viral, Guri, Pavi, CFDad and CFMom, Chris Johnnidis, Ripa Ajmera, Neil Patel and so many others who have cheered me on and given me great encouragement to find my own values. Clint Korver for giving generously of his time and positive attitude to review my work. Jan Leeman for validating the axiological categoies for Venture Capitalists, and suggesting the “three judges” metaphor. Ajay Kshatriya for providing more feedback on applicability in early seed-venture valuation. The health policy group at Stanford for their time and feedback. Lauren Cipriano for asking for thicker arrows. Sabina Stefania Alistair for requesting colors in value diagrams. Although I ended up with signs, this was an important stepping stone. David Hutton for giving generously of his time and helping me understand how this work connects with public policy work. Prof. Margaret Brandeau for making numerous comments that enriched this work in so many ways. Prof. Jennifer Wolf for teaching me ethnography more formally. Dr. Carl Spetzler, for advising me in so many ways, being patient with me, and engaging in dazzling brainstorms. Prof. Stephen Barley, for not just teaching me ethnography, but also teaching me how to think like an ethnographer. The sociological influence spilled over from the ethnographic work to the rest of my work, and I am grateful for it. The sociological lens is a great gift I will carry with me from Stanford into my future endeavors. It is impossible for me to thank Prof. Prof. Ronald Howard, who changed my life on the first day of class when he declared that a decision could not be judged from the outcome. Prof. Howard not just taught me decision analysis, he also taught me how to think, question and learn without getting my ego in the way. I am grateful to him for having founded the field of decision analysis, although he credits the Buddha as being the first decision analyst, operating with a cool head and a warm heart. I am grateful to the Buddha for focusing us on making better personal decisions in the present over engaging in dry intellectual debates on notions of absolute truth. I am so grateful to my department and to Stanford University for giving me the opportunity to do research and get deeper into Decision Analysis. I hope to be able to contribute to the world and spread this wisdom that has transformed my own life. This work is dedicated to my parents, my wife, my teachers, my friends, to all I know in the past, to those I will know in the future and foremost to those unknown beings who served in anonymity and cared not for their name, but in whose gratitude we shall eternally remain for the fruits we enjoy. I am grateful to the countless entities that had to do exactly what they did so this work could come about.


“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” Rabindranath Tagore


Abstract Preface Acknowledgements 1 Introduction 1.1 Research Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1.1 1.1.2 1.1.3 1.1.4 1.1.5 1.1.6 1.2 1.3 A Perspective on Perspectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Brief Introduction to Decision Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Empirical Strategy Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Methodological Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Public Policy Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Consulting Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii ix xi 3 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 13 13 16 19 23 26 27 29 30 30 31

An Outline of Chapters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prior Publications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2 Appreciating Sources of Value 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Literature Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Brief History of Axiology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Formal Axiology and The Hierarchy of Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4.1 2.5.1 2.5.2 2.5.3 2.5.4 2.5.5 Identifying Sources of Value in Prospects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Retrospective Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Intrinsic Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Extrinsic Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Systemic Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Effect of Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv Application to the Stanford Police Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2.6 2.7

Negative Biasing of Identitiy Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . More Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.7.1 2.7.2 2.7.3 Officer Shot Dead on Campus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . President Obama Considering a Pullout of US Troops from Afghanistan . . . Discovering new alternatives for a bike-safety decision context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

31 32 32 33 34 35 36 39 39 40 40 45 47 53 53 55 56 57 58 60 61 61 65 65 66 67 69 69 69 71 72 73 74 75 77 77

2.8 2.9

Is the Experience of Value a Decision or a Condition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion

3 Discovering Embedded Values in Culture 3.1 3.2 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Value Rhetoric of Private Campus Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2.1 3.2.2 3.3 3.4 Police Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Research Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SUDPS: History and Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Rhetoric of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.4.1 3.4.2 An educational stop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Public Safety, Not Police Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Uneventful Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . An Arrest that Wasn’t . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . High-Visibility Patrolling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vocabularies of Motive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Applicability of Soft Pinches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Understanding the Experience of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Consequences of the Education Rhetoric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.5.1 3.5.2 3.5.3


Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.1 3.6.2 3.6.3

3.7 3.8

Avoiding Critical Ethnography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion

4 Telling Value Stories 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Introducing Value Diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Constrained Value Diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Canonical Value Diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Police Case Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.5.1 4.5.2 4.6 4.7 The Police Chief’s Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Triangulating with Ethnography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Resolving Values Nodes in Decision Diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Quick Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvi

4.8 4.9

Incorporating Value Judgments with Signed Value Diagrams Conclusion

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

78 80 83 84 86 86 90 91 96 98 99

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

5 Achieving Consistency in Valuation 5.1 5.2 Decision Diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bicycle Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2.1 5.2.2 5.2.3 5.2.4 5.2.5 5.2.6 5.2.7 5.3 5.3.1 5.3.2 5.3.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The CFO’s Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Functionalizing Value Nodes in Helmet-Safety Decision Diagram . . . . . . . Valuation Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Incorporating Risk-Attitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . More Insights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 The Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Insights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106

Alcohol Safety

Car Rental Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 Senior-Citizen Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 Quick Guide to Creating Value Nodes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 115

6 Extending the Value Conversation 6.1 6.2 6.3

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Creating Mutual Understanding on Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 The Tibetan Conflict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 6.3.1 6.3.2 6.3.3 6.3.4 6.3.5 The Dalai Lama’s Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 The Han Chinese Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Facilitating a dialog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 The Canonical Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 The “Do not talk” View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132 The Ten Commandments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 The Five Pillars of Islam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Vedanta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 xvii


The United States-Iran Row . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 6.4.1 6.4.2


World Religions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 6.5.1 6.5.2 6.5.3

6.5.4 6.5.5

Atheism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139 141

7 Conclusion 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5

Standardization of Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 Patterns in Identity Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142 7.2.1 Application in the For-profit World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Criticism of Contingent Valuation

Validity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Future Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146 7.5.1 Multi-attribute analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 149 UC Davis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Helmet Safety Tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Assessing Helmet Usage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Extant Research on Bike Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Police Case Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 US-Iran Standoff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 155

8 Appendix 8.1 8.1.1 8.1.2 8.1.3 8.1.4 8.2 8.2.1 8.2.2 Bibliography

Achieving Consistency in Valuation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149

Extending the Value Conversation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151


List of Tables
2.1 2.2 2.3 3.1 5.1 8.1 Reconciling value language in the Stanford School of Decision Analysis and Axiology Reconciling value language in the Stanford School of Decision Analysis and MultiAttribute Utility Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Axiological questions and decision-modeling guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . First-pass Codes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bicycle Registrations on the Stanford Campus by Academic Year . . . . . . . . . . . 19 27 46 86 18

Helmet Usage by students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149



List of Figures
2.1 2.2 2.3 3.1 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Whiteboard photograph of scheduling decision diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hotspots in the Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Retrospective decision diagram of scheduling decision situation . . . . . . . . . . . . The Ethnographic Research Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Communicating Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Communicating Value with a Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A constrained Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Canonical Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Canonical Value Diagram Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Police Chief’s Initial Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Focusing on Public Safety Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Focusing on Budget . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Public Safety Education/Awareness as an identity node . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 29 29 45 70 70 71 72 73 74 75 75 76 76 78 79 79 80 84 85 87 88 89 90 90 91

4.10 Education as an identity node . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.11 Value influences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.12 Tracing Value - before applying rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.13 Incorporating Value Judgments into a Signed Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.14 An Example of a Signed Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Types of Nodes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Types of Arrows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Number of Bike Accidents by Campus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Accident Reporting Comparison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Frequency-Severity-Median Cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trauma Injuries from Jan 2005 to Aug 2009 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Injury severity and body part histogram - Jan 2005 to Aug 2009 . . . . . . . . . . . The CFO’s value diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxi


The Helmet-Safety Decision Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

92 93 93 94 94 95 95 96 97 98 99

5.10 Unpacking Value Node . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.11 Incorporating Resources Expended . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.12 Subsuming Prosperity of University and Systematizing Education . . . . . . . . . . . 5.13 Systematizing Trauma to Individual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.14 Voluntary and Coercive Frames . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.15 Tracing the axiological values behind functional values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.16 Tradeoffs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.17 Value to Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.18 Value to Stanford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.19 Value to Insurance - Risk Averse scenario . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

5.20 Modeling Coercion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 5.21 Alcohol Safety Decision Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 5.22 Alcohol Safety Analysis Results - Value of Control for Minor Injuries . . . . . . . . . 104 5.23 Number of Traumatic Injuries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 5.24 Education Disvalue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 5.25 Education Sensitivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 5.26 Decision Hierarchy for Car Rental Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 5.27 Decision Diagram for Car Rental Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 5.28 Sensitivity to Probability of Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 5.29 Sensitivity to Trauma Disvalue and Coercion Disvalue. I = “Insurance only,” E = “Education only,” IE = “Insurance+Education,” x = “neither” . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 5.30 Farewell to Falls Decision Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 5.31 Inputs to the model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 5.32 Hip/Head Sensitivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 Lieutenant’s Personal Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 Lieutenant’s version of the Police Chief’s Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 Police Chief’s Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 While trying to click a deputy, someone pulled over asking for help . . . . . . . . . . 118 The Police Chief’s Value Diagram with the deputy’s values included . . . . . . . . . 119 The Dalai Lama’s Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 The Tibetan Activist Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122 The CCP’s Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 The Dalai Lama’s Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

6.10 The Han Chinese Value Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 6.11 The CCP’s Value Diagram according to the Han Chinese subject . . . . . . . . . . . 125 6.12 The Dalai Lama’s Value Diagram according to the Han Chinese subject . . . . . . . 126 xxii

6.13 The Han Chinese Canonical Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 6.14 Past US Administration Official on Diplomacy with Iran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 6.15 Turning democracy into a systemic value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 6.16 One interpretation offered . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 6.17 The neo-realist position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132 6.18 The Ten Commandments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134 6.19 The Five Pillars of Islam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 6.20 Vedanta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 6.21 An Atheist’s Value Diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Davis’ Bike Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150

Helmet Safety Tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 Helmet Data Collection Experiment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Second Lieutenant’s Value Diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152 Subject 2’s value diagram on US-Iran Standoff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153







Chapter 1

A teacher asked a student to make an offering of the worst of all things. Every time the student picked something, the teacher rejected it by identifying some value in the object. Finally, the student realized that the fault lay in his own mind, which was the source of all value labels. He offered his own mind, which the teacher accepted. Paraphrased from Yogis in Silence, R. K. Gupta

In this dissertation, we will examine tools to discover, appreciate and communicate value. This chapter will focus on motivating the research problem, examining the current state of practice in value discovery and laying out a guide to the rest of the thesis.


Research Problem

It is hard for people to identify and communicate what really matters to them and why. It is particularly hard to do so when we have a motivation other than profit, and profit is a meansto-an-end. We find ourselves trapped between two worlds- the world of business and the world of non-profits. Should we be talking the language of business, which is now synonymous with valuecreation and professionalism? Or should we be talking the language of non-profits, which is fixated on overhead instead of value creation?[45] The business paradigm that forces profit as the bottomline in any value analysis does not fit perfectly. Neither does the non-profit paradigm, which is forced to rely on charity. The “double bottomline”[9] and “triple bottomline”[15] approaches have been an 3



attempt to expand our thinking. These approaches advocate consistency with our values, but there is little agreement on how to execute such approaches and whether they can be done consistently and systematically.[43] The biggest issue with double or triple bottomlines is that a decision-making perspective is missing. Without an explicit consideration of who the decision-maker is, there can be little clarity on the values that need to be incorporated into any analysis. This dissertation adopts the decisionanalytic frame that puts the decision-maker at the center of the analysis and lets us consider the values of the decision-maker. As a decision-maker, could we find a way to incorporate the values that made us get into a business or a social venture1 in the first place? Is there a way to understand how these values relate to each other? Would such a treatment change the best alternatives that result from our analyses, and therefore, our decision? As we begin to tackle these questions, for the rest of the dissertation, we will treat people who are on the same decision-making team as a single decision-maker, assuming that they will be able to reach consensus on their preferences, where even if everyone does not agree, they agree to proceed as if they did, in order to benefit from normative approaches to decision-making and achieve clarity of action. This is necessary in order to bypass Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem[4] on the aggregation of social preferences, which proves rigorously that it is impossible to have a “fair” voting system which is not dictatorial.


A Perspective on Perspectives

Since we have just used the term “normative,” this would be a good time to draw some more distinctions, that help us understand the different types of perspectives we might have. Broadly, there are two types of perspectives we can adopt - one is the descriptive approach, and the other is the normative approach. Descriptive approaches attempt to understand the world as it is, while normative approaches help us re-engineer the world as we’d like it to be. Descriptive approaches stake their validity on being verifiable with experience. Normative approaches stake their validity with logical assertions based on a foundation of fundamental axioms that have been accepted. As an example, physics is a descriptive field. It attempts to describe the world as it is. Mathematics is a normative field - there is nothing real about counting or numbers. Yet, it is incredibly useful in helping us do things we could otherwise not do. In physics, validity would involve being able to describe and verify phenomena. In mathematics, validity would involve not violating fundamental axioms that we have now come to accept. These two distinctions are extremely powerful for they help us make sense of a broad range of fields. Economics, sociology and psychology are all descriptive fields, trying to understand and explain how people behave. When we get to decision-making, these distinctions become particularly
1 By social venture, we refer to those organizations that derive their identity from a service goal, while explicitly treating profit as a means-to-an-end



useful. We find the mainstream strategy literature to be focused on empirical research. Empricial strategy researchers are trying to describe the world as it is, and find a correlation between actions and outcomes. Decision theory, on the other hand, is a normative field, which provides fundamental axioms that, once accepted, will help us clarify our decision thinking. When strategy is viewed as decision-making, decision theory provides clear guidance on how the individual decision maker should act. We now a introduce a third distinction in addition to normative and descriptive perspectives the prescriptive perspective. Engineers, unlike mathematicians and physicists, embrace whatever is useful. They need to learn the math as math helps them do their trade, while they also need to respect and honor physics in order to develop a deep understanding of how the world works. What differentiates decision analysis from decision theory is its whole-hearted acceptance and incorporation of the wisdom of descriptive research to help regular people follow the norms of good decision-making. Decision Analysis (DA) is an engineering discipline that goes far beyond decision theory. In this sense, DA provides the broad framework with which one might incorporate the wisdom gained from empirical strategy, sociology and other descriptive disciplines. The normative, descriptive and prescriptive distinctions are very useful for a major reason - a common misunderstanding of decision analysis made by highly influential academics is that, “people don’t think this way.” This is true. People don’t think mathematically - math comes with a lot of training. So also with decision analysis. The field of decision analysis with its normative foundation and prescriptive outlook has no conflict with the descriptive world. The research presented in this dissertation will honor the good that both the descriptive and the normative have to offer, and as we get deeper into our thinking on value, we will find these two distinctions interacting significantly with each other, making our prescriptions much more useful than they would be if we were limited to only one perspective.


A Brief Introduction to Decision Analysis

The field of Decision Analysis deserves a brief introduction, as we’ve brought it up a couple of times now, and the author of this thesis considers himself a decision analyst. Howard [22] makes a distinction between the Eastern and Western perspectives of decisionmaking, by pointing out that it would be a joke for us to imagine Lao Tzu or the Buddha making decisions. Although decision-making is a Western idea, the notion of “love” is universal, which many people (Eastern or Western) experience at a level that is not a decision. A good summary of the idea of decision-making is that “making decisions is what you do when you don’t know what to do.” Philosophically, there are two fundamental axioms of decision analysis. The first is the distinction between decisions and outcomes, and the principle that we cannot judge a decision from the outcome. It is the oldest mistake in the book, and Howard quotes from Ambrose Bierce’s satirical “Devil’s Dictionary” to make the point:



Outcome: A particular type of disappointment. By the kind of intelligence that sees in an exception a proof of the rule the wisdom of an act is judged by the outcome, the result. This is immortal nonsense; the wisdom of an act is to be juded by the light that the doer had when he performed it. The second fundamental axiom is the sunk-cost principle, which is widely known in various disciplines, but rarely followed. The sunk-cost principle states that the past is gone and should not be factored into our considerations for the future, except in matters of learning. Another way of restating this principle is that the past matters for learning, not accounting. For example, using what we paid for a television when we bought it as the minimum we are willing to sell it for because we want to make a profit is a violation of the sunk-cost principle. This principle applies not just to material goods but also to projects. A common violation of this principle would be a product manager thinking the following way, “we have already invested a million dollars into this product. Although I believe that if we invest another $500,000, we will get a return of $750,000 for sure, we should not go ahead as we will still be down by $750,000 on our original investment.” The million dollars is gone and will never come back. If the product manager is sure that investing half a million will get back $750,000, she should go for it. Next, decision analysis provides a set of axioms known as the five rules of actional thought, which if accepted, allows us to use mathematics and come up with clarity of action. In brief, the rules are abbreviated as “POE’S CHOICE,” and are the Probability Rule, the Order Rule, the Equivalence Rule, the Substitution Rule and the Choice Rule. Once these rules are accepted, the rest of the normative foundation is an inevitable consequence. For a more detailed treatment of these rules and their implications, the reader is referred to Howard’s paper.[25] We will touch again on how decision analysis deals with value in 1.1.5 and devote Chapter 2 to a deep dive.


The Empirical Strategy Perspective

Although normative tools of decision-making have been around since the 60’s[23], and we have known to treat the decision body as one when analyzing our decisions, decision-making in groups is anything but easy. Empirical theorists have long focused on how people actually make decisions, and the human problems that arise. Amason notes that “high-quality decisions mean little if they cannot be implemented.”[2, 125]. He further provides the following sage advice: To effectively usher a decision through this complex web of operational details, team members must do much more than simply agree to or comply with the decision. They must both understand and commit to the decision if it is to be implemented effectively. Those understandings and commitments are cultivated while the decision is being made.[2, 125]



A process like Decision Analysis[25] that focuses on bringing clarity to the decision process is the need of the hour, as opposed to advocacy-driven methods. However, even if organizations are following a high-quality decision process, there could still be conflict within the decision-making body. Conflict is not necessarily good or bad. Amason notes that studies have been inconclusive on whether the effectiveness of conflict in one context can be generalized to other contexts. Eisenhardt, et al. [13] note that top management teams manage conflict well to “harness their energy, experience, and creativity more effectively” and recommend that organizations “build heterogeneous teams”[13, 46], ”create frequent interactions”[13, 49], “cultivate distinct roles”[13, 52] and “count on multiplelens heuristics”[13, 56]. Building heterogenous teams improves diversity and adds to the skills and perspectives that are on the team. Creating frequent interactions is important in order to benefit from diversity. Cultivating distinct roles involves taking on “almost caricature positions”[13, 52] to ensure that conflicting perspectives are discussed by design. Developing multiple-lens heuristics is about generating “multiple alternatives, multiple scenarios, doing competitor role plays, and creating overlapping subgroups.” Eisenhardt and Zbaracki[14] go one step further than most of the empiricists in pointing out the need to incorporate the existing empirical research into the normative concerns of complex organizations. The prescriptions of Eisenhardt, et al. do not invalidate decision analysis as we explained in the previous subsection. Rather, the two disciplines complement each other. The empirical theorists find that higher quality decisions get made when people engage in conflict. This is because information that would otherwise be ignored is now on the table, and can be incorporated. While this is a good practice, there is a step that precedes the decision discussion and that is the value discussion. Collins and Porras[8] argue that value alignment is more important than the details of a specific organizational decision through their heuristic, “First Who, Then What.” Collins cites top performers as having the ability to get the wrong people off the bus. Sutton[61] gives a descriptive look at the characteristics of people whose behavior belies a hostile value system. Both Sutton and Collins seem to rely on individual behavior as the main indicator of value misalignment. There are many benefits to achieving clarity on value in organizations. Such organizations would be better able to hold constructive conflicts as Eisenhardt, et al. recommend, for they would assume their members had the best intentions, coming from a shared value system. Hiring the right people, as well as training them would become easier tasks. Communicating with other organizations from different value systems would become easier, as would understanding these “other organizations.” If clarity on values in organizations can be so useful, then as engineers, perhaps we can follow Eisenhardt, et al.’s encouragement and attempt to approach this clarity from a normative perspective, if not a prescriptive one, which also honors the descriptive (empirical) perspective, in the context of organizational decision making. In a broad sense, that is how this dissertation situates itself in the realm of strategy research for organizations that are motivated by service as an end.




The Methodological Perspective

The people who are closest to the strategic decision conversation where clarity on values is crucial tend to be either experienced employees who play a facilitator’s role, or strategy consultants. As researchers are not privy to such conversations in an exhaustive manner, the research attention given to this area in empirical research is rather thin and has only now received some attention with the work of Bergner[5]. As mentioned earlier, empirical researchers like Eisenhardt, et al. have repeatedly pointed to a gap between decision theory and actual decision making. Behavioral decision theorists like Tversky and Kahneman[63] have long pointed to this gap. Some researchers in decision analysis who’ve had extensive experience helping decision makers on strategy decisions have grappled with this gap. For instance, Spetzler and Holstein[58] came up with the “probability wheel” to help decision analysts elicit probabilistic assessments from those who are not accustomed to thinking probabilistically, with an eye to preventing the commonly known biases[63]. More recently, Keelin and Powley[35] have come up with a simple graphical method to make the process of probability assessments more intuitive by fitting a distribution and showing it back to the decision maker for a conversation. Assessing probability is a discussion that happens much later in a decision analysis, once the frame of the problem has already been decided. While some attention to framing has been given by Keeney [36], and is the object of Matheson’s thesis[38], Bergner is the first to methodologically combine the normative, prescriptive and empirical(or descriptive) modes of inquiry to shine a light on the framing conversation. Bergner draws a distinction between decision analysis and decision theory, and rightly points out that “decision analysis goes far beyond decision theory.”[5, 2] While normative decision theory forms a major component of decision analysis, the other big component is what Bergner calls “facilitated dialogue,” which is not as well-developed in the literature as the normative theory. Bergner focuses on facilitated dialogue and develops the Amplex Limit Process (ALP), which looks at operators that describe elements of a framing conversation, and becomes the instrument with which the conversation will be studied. Thereafter, Bergner uses this instrument to check hypotheses on different kinds of conversations and their outcomes. Other researchers have built upon the ALP using methods from design research.[16] This work follows the holistic spirit present in Bergner’s work, but differs in many important respects. First, we are focused on the value conversation, and this conversation occurs not just during framing but also during modeling and appraisal. We shall, therefore, take a more holistic approach and pursue the thread of value from framing to modeling to appraisal. Second, our object of inquiry is not the method of framing, but the content of framing as it applies to our thinking on value, which we will refer to as the value frame. Third, our empiricial approach is not statistical, but cultural. Although we have a clearly marked phase where we shall launch into an ethnography, the cultural undertone will be evident through this dissertation, and will return when we demonstrate the utility of our proposed constructs in later chapters. The cultural perspective has been chosen



over the statistical one as it is far more holistic in its grasp of people and how they make sense of themselves and their world. This perspective is so important to this dissertation that we shall devote an entire chapter to the method and its application (Chapter 3). Fourth, the focus of this inquiry is in a special context, that of organizations that are motivated by service as an end, with profit as the means.


The Public Policy Perspective

The focus of this inquiry has been on voluntary social policy decisions. To explain this, we shall use Howard’s distinction on positive ethics[26, 39]. Negative ethics take the form of prohibitions, like “You shall not . . . ” while positive ethics take the form of obligations, like, “You shall . . . ’. We shall then define social policy decisions as those decisions we make for the welfare of others, out of considerations of positive ethics. [26, 39]. In social policy decision-making, also known a public policy decision-making, much attention has been focused on government decision-making and fairness of such decisions. We shall refer to Howard’s critique of the problems of analyzing public policy decisions that have to do with the government.[22] Howard notes that “cost-risk-benefitanalysis,” the current method of choice in public policy decision-making, is at its best, “an attempt to apply decision analysis to social decisions.” Howard then points out: The problems the analyst will face in assessing benefits are usually perceived as the most difficult, and they are difficult. But what about the equally difficult problems of assessing cost in a society that is more than one-third government? Every price in our society is affected by local, state, national, and even international regulations, laws, subsidies, duties, and taxes. In computing the investment for a new energy development, should one use the cost of domestic steel or perhaps the lower cost of imported ”dumped” steel? In buying tires for the trucks, should the U.S. excise tax be included in the cost? If federal law requires that union wage rates be paid for construction, should these rates be used as the actual opportunity cost for labor in the calculation even when there are unemployed nonunion laborers of equal competence available? In fact, is cost not just as uncertain as benefit? Think about any cost benefit analysis you have ever seen and determine if it still makes sense after such effects are included.[22, 15-16] We now define voluntary social policy decisions as those decisions for social welfare which are taken on a voluntary basis, without involving the government’s mechanisms (regulations, taxes, subsidies). These are decisions we choose to make on our own account, because we care about other people and want to improve their welfare. This is how we will situate ourself in the public policy literature. That is not to say that cost-benefit analyses cannot use this work. They most certainly can, and in fact, will find this work as a complementary step that may be performed prior to and also during the framing of the social policy decision.



A more technical and precise description of voluntary social policy decisions is that these are the decisions that involve more than one direct value[25, 51], or values that are ends in themselves. In practical terms, direct values are things you are willing to trade-off. For most business decisions, profit is a direct value. Everything else, like market share, reputation, etc. matters because it improves profit. If a decision-maker wishes to claim that they care about something in addition to profit as a direct value (e.g. environmental sustainability), the implication is that they are willing to trade-off some profit in order to achieve that direct value. Voluntary social policy decisions have this characteristic that they go beyond one direct value. Finally, this work has broader applicability to social policy decisions. We shall present some examples in this regard in Chapter 6.


The Consulting Perspective

Decision consulting has long involved being able to identify sources of value for a client. After talking with senior consultants with over twenty years of experience, here are some methods that we find popular with consultants.2 Describing Desirable and Undesirable Prospects Consultants usually start by asking their clients to describe desirable and undesirable prospects. Then, they drill deep into the scenario by asking the client whey they care about the prospect, and iteratively questioning until the client can go no further and has arrived at fundamental sources of value. This method of iteratively questioning to arrive at sources of value has been described by both Howard[25] and Keeney[36], and we shall go deeper into it in 2.4.1. For now, we note that asking repeated questions until we can go no further is a fundamental method of inquiry. We will try complementing it with axiological questions in Chapter 2, but this method remains the most potent tool in the consultant’s facilitation toolbox. Describing Role and Anti-Role Models Learning who the decision-maker’s role models are might give us a valuable clue about sources of value. For instance, someone idolizing Jack Welch might put a lot of emphasis on operational efficiency. Similarly, anti-role models could give us clues on sources of disvalue, which are just as important as sources of value. Backcasting We can construct attributes for sources of value that have been articulated, but what do we do about sources that exist but have not been articulated. A grounded data-driven way of uncovering this
2 This is not the result of a rigorous methodological study, but a summary of conversations with founding partners at two decision consulting firms



would be with an ethnography, which is explored later in this thesis (see Chapter 3). A powerful practice-driven way of doing this is with the technique of backcasting. Backcasting has typically been used to assess probability distributions. In order to get people to challenge their certainty about the future. Let us suppose that you have been asked to assess the chance of an event occurring (e.g. sales surpassing $1 million). As you are generally optimistic, you assess this at 90%. The analyst might be able to provoke your thinking by framing the following question: “Let’s assume the future is here, and you have missed the target. How would you explain it to your boss and peers?” That helps bring several factors into the frame that might be relevant in the assessment of the uncertainty under consideration. We might also use backcasting to uncover sources of value, by phrasing the following question: “Assume all the sources of value you’ve identified have been fulfilled at the levels you wanted, but you’re still unhappy. Why might that be?” This can help the decision-maker uncover more sources of value. New Tools This dissertation adds two tools to the consulting toolbox, from the fields of philosophy and sociology. From philosophy, we suggest the use of axiological questions, leading up to value diagrams. From sociology, we suggest the use of ethnography to uncover embedded values in culture. Although ethnography involves more of an investment, its payoff is that organizations within a similar context can be quickly understood in a far richer manner than just relying on individual interviews.


An Outline of Chapters

We shall begin with an ethnographic analysis in Chapter 3 for the purpose of discovering sources of value in the context of an organization. Moreover, we shall propose ethnographic analysis with the explicit filter of value as a tool for uncovering embedded value in a culture. As our context, we shall focus on the Stanford Police Department. In Chapter 2, we shall enter the realm of philosophy, in particular, formal axiology, to find a framework that can be used to appreciate value in three important dimensions. In this chapter, we will also go into greater depths to examine the approaches known to decision analysts from perspectives of Howard and Keeney-Raiffa. Chapter 4 will introduce a new construct to Decision Analysis - the Value Diagram, to represent the value frame. This construct will be based on the philosophical foundation of the Dimensions of Value from Formal Axiology. We will continue with the case study of the Stanford Police Department to demonstrate the use of the value diagram, while noting how the ethnographic analysis serves as a powerful source for triangulation. Chapter 5 will demonstrate how to turn value diagrams into decision diagrams for the purposes of achieving valuations that are consistent with our value frames. The primary example will be that of bicycle safety, after which, we’ll quickly demonstrate how the model created is portable



across similar public safety contexts, such as Alcohol Safety, Senior Citizen Safety and Student Car Insurance. Chapter 6 will show applications in domains other than voluntary social decisions. In particular, we will look at how value diagrams may be used to improve mutual understanding across political divides, and how the axiological framework may be used by venture capitalists to think about seed-funding decisions. Chapter 7 will conclude this work and outline areas of further inquiry.


Prior Publications

Chapter Chapter 2 has been presented at INFORMS 2009, San Diego. 3 has been presented at INFORMS 2008, Washington D. C.

Chapter 2

Appreciating Sources of Value
It is naive to confuse water for the label “water.” Such a one is bound to die of thirst while running after the label. Keep chanting “fire, fire” and not a scratch comes on your lips. Place one ember on your lips and then see how they burn! Baba Zaheen Shah Taji, Sufi Poet



In this chapter, we will examine distinctions on the experience of value from extant literature in decision analysis and reconcile the two major approaches of looking at value. We will then import a set of distinctions from Formal Axiology that can help us appreciate sources of value. We use the word “appreciate” in the sense of “grasping the nature of, judging the nature of; to be fully aware of.”

We aim to grasp the nature of value and come up with distinctions that heighten our

awareness of the kind of value we are looking at. With a better appreciation of the kinds of value we might look for, we will find ourselves better equipped to discover new sources of value.


Literature Review

In the Decision Analysis literature, we find a distinction between an “end in itself” and a “means to an end.” The former is referred to by Howard as “direct values” [25, 51] and by Keeney as “strategic
1 Merriam Webster defines the word “appreciate” as “to grasp the nature, worth, quality, or significance of; to judge with heightened perception or understanding: be fully aware of”




objectives” [36, 40-41]. The latter is referred to by Howard as “indirect values” [25, 51] and by Keeney as “means objectives.”[36, 34]. Keeney writes: Many books have been written about decision-making. They tell us how to solve decision problems. They do not tell us how to identify potential decision opportunities. They tell us how to analyze alternatives to choose the best one. They do not tell us how to create alternatives. . . . They do not tell us how to articulate the qualitative objectives on which any appraisal of alternatives must rest.[36, vii] Keeney tries to resolve this by distinguishing between strategic and means-to-end objectives, based on values, which he defines as “principles used for evaluation.” [36, 6] The range of Keeney’s values spans from “ethical principles that must be upheld to guidelines for preferences among choices.”[36, 7] He defines strategic objectives as “the fundamental objectives corresponding to the strategic decision context” [36, 40] and means objectives as those objectives which are “of interest in the decision context because of its implications for the degree to which another (more fundamental) objective can be achieved.” [36, 34] Keeney’s position may be summarized as one of guiding alternative creation once fundamental objectives are known. We understand that alternatives may be generated from strategic fundamental objectives, but what is the relation between strategic fundamental objectives and values? Keeney makes it clear that value-focused thinking is value-neutral([36, 32]) and hence will not examine this question. The closest Keeney comes to looking at this relation is when he suggests that we remove alternatives that are not consistent with our values (or principles of evaluation). [36, 52] Examining Keeney’s definition of value, we note that it deviates from the popular meaning of the term. The popular usage, as documented by Merriam Webster, is “a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged” or “the monetary worth of something.” As of this writing, Merriam Webster does have as the seventh meaning of value the following: “something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable (sought material values instead of human values - W. H. Jones).” This is perhaps closest to Keeney’s usage of the term. We find that Howard uses the term value in its more popular English sense and he goes on to define direct and indirect value: A direct value is one to be traded off by the decision maker against other direct values. An indirect value is a distinction that is relevant to a direct value, but is not a direct value itself. In Howard’s paradigm, how does one come up with direct values when profit is not the only motive? Both Keeney and Howard state that the way to find the final “end objective” or the “distinction(s) of direct value” is to recursively question the choice of any initial direct values. When the decision maker is unable to decompose the direct value any further, we will have arrived at the attributes of value that are fundamental to the decision-maker.



Such a perspective brings us to the domain of multi-attribute decision analysis. Keeney would proceed to construct a multi-attribute tradeoff function on the attributes if there were more than one. Howard would tackle this by proposing iso-preference curves, where at least one of the attributes can be mapped on to a numeraire. Using n-dimensional iso-preference surfaces, we would then be able to extract the dollar value of a combination of attributes, and thereby move from a multi-attribute to a single-attribute decision analysis, with reduced complexity and the advantage of being able to compute the value of clairvoyance.[25, 52] Howard treats ethical principles in its own category, and points out that technical and financial analyses are value-neutral[26, 1]. In others words, these methods can be used with different ethical principles. Howard is much more careful in his distinction between ethical principles and values, using both in their popular English sense and not intermingling them as Keeney does. Further, he distinguishes between “positive and negative ethics”. Negative ethics take the form of prohibitions, like “You shall not . . . ” while positive ethics take the form of obligations, like, “You shall . . . ”[26, 39]. Taking this distinction out of its personal context and applying it to a group setting, we find that organizations that think of themselves as service-motivated (where profit is a means to an end, and not an end in itself) tend to have positive ethics. They are uncomfortable in using the profit paradigm to think about their decisions. In Howard’s paradigm, we may now ask how an organization’s positive ethics relates to their direct values in a decision context? For further insight, we refer to the early literature in sociology and economics through Weber’s framework of social action [67, 24-26], where social action may be oriented in four ways: • Instrumentally Rational (or zweckrational ): When “the end, the means, and the secondary results are all rationally taken into account and weighed,” the resulting actions are called instrumentally rational. In Decision Analysis, the “analysis” or the post-framing phase would fall into instrumental rationality. • Value-Rational (or wertrational ): Such actions are “determined by a conscious belief in the value for its own sake of some ethical, aesthetic, religious, or other form of behavior, independently of its prospects of success.” This is a powerful distinction that would be an object of interest during a framing exercise. We shall take a closer look at this distinction very shortly. • Affectual: Such actions are “determined by the actor’s specific affects and feeling states.” Affectual action is the object of study in behavioral decision science and is outside the scope of this research. • Traditional: Such actions are “determined by ingrained habituation.” A large part of social actions fall under tradition, and this is the object of study for ethnographers (and sociologists in general). Traditional behavior can “shade over into value rationality” and lead us to



unarticulated values. This is the focus of the next chapter. To explicate pure value rationality, Weber[67, 25] uses an example of people “who, regardless of possible cost to themselves, act to put into practice their convictions of what seems to them to be required by duty, honor, the pursuit of beauty, a religious call, personal loyalty, or the importance of some “cause” no matter in what it consists.” We note that police departments are a good example where pure value rationality may manifest, when police officers take actions that put them in harm’s way, in order to protect society. Weber notes that instrumentally rational actions are incompatible with affectual and traditional actions. However, value-rational action may have “various different relations to the instrumentally rational action.” The higher the degree of value-rationality, the more irrational the action would be from an instrumental perspective, as the decision maker would be less interested in the consequences of the action than in the value for its own sake. For our purposes, we are interested in going deeper into the relation between instrumentally rational and value-rational action in the context of social ventures. In summary, we state our research questions: 1. Howard and Keeney mean different things by the term “value.” How can we reconcile their uses? 2. What is the relation between strategic fundamental objectives and values? (Keeney); What is the relation between direct values and positive ethics? (Howard); What is the relation between instrumental and value rationality? (Weber) 3. In the process of decision analysis, what are the benefits of studying such a relation? This chapter will focus on addressing these questions by examining the field of Axiology in general and Formal Axiology in particular.


A Brief History of Axiology

Philosophers have been thinking about value for thousands of years, and the field under which they do this thinking is called Axiology, or the study of value. We shall take a brief look at this field for insights. We note quickly that unlike the engineering disciplines where we are clear about what both Howard and Keeney mean by value, the philosophers do not have a clear definition of the term, which evokes several different questions for different philosophers. The usage of the term “value” in this section is done more in an evocative and not a definitive sense. We find the first mention of value with Aristotle, who equates it with utility or function and proceeds to ascertain the function of man [3, 8]:



. . . if we say “so-and-so” and “a good so-and-so” have a function which is the same in kind, e.g. a lyre, and a good lyre player, and so without qualification in all cases, eminence in respect to goodness being idded to the name of the function (for the function of a lyre-player is to play the lyre, and that of a good lyre-player is to do so well): if this is the case, and we state the function of man to be a certain kind of life, and this to be an activity or actions of the soul implying a rational principle, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed when it is performed with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete. Aristotle does not state his assumption that the rational principle of a human is to lead a life of virtue. Be that as it may, through Aristotle, we find our first notion of good as utility fulfillment, as far back as 350 BC. Over the next two millenia, philosophers have debated value from many viewpoints - we shall look at the two main schools of thought: the subjectivist and objectivist. An excellent summary of the subjectivist and objectivist debates may be found in Frondizi’s work[17], where he summarizes and points out the flaws in the positions of both schools. The subjectivists claim that questions of value are meaningless without a subject, in whose mind, all value exists. The objectivists claim that if there were nothing for the subject to valuate, there would be no value. Frondizi attempts to transcend the debate by incorporating the key arguments from both the subjective and the objective camps. He notes that subjective psychological experiences like pleasure, desire and interest do not exclude objective elements, but assume them. Value is then a result of “a relationship or tension between subject and object, and would have a subjective as well as an objective side.” Values might have different degrees of each element. The activity of valuation is what establishes a relationship between the subject and the object. This is what brings us to Frondizi’s point of departure: “a subject valuating an object.” Value is then a “relational notion requiring both the presence of the subject and the object.” [17, 146-147] We can now address the issues of both the subjectivist and objectivist camps. To address the objectivist concerns, Frondizi notes that a subject cannot valuate in a vacuum, or “there is no valuation without value” [17, 153] - indeed, we need an underlying source of value before a valuation activity can be initiated. To address the subjectivist concerns, Frondizi notes that value has no meaning if valuation were not possible. The moment we get into valuation, we are now connected to the subject who is performing the valuation and therefore have to consider the subject’s situation. [17, 151] Finally, Frondizi tackles the nature of value itself, which he considers nonreal while having a connection with reality. He rejects “atomistic” approaches that try to decompose value into subcomponents as being too simplistic, and he considers value to be irreducibly complex. He notes that value cannot be separated from its empirical qualities, but neither can it be reduced to them.



Table 2.1: Reconciling value language in the Stanford School of Decision Analysis and Axiology Stanford School of Decision Axiology Analysis Verb Value Valuate e.g. How do you value this e.g. How do you valuate this prospect? prospect to establish trade-offs? Noun Value Value e.g. Does this prospect have di- What existential value do you rect value or indirect value for find in this prospect? you?

This is what he calls the “gestalt” quality. We now turn our attention to Frondizi’s distinctions. He prefers to use the term valuate instead of the verb value, to refer to the activity of valuation by which a subject comprehends the value of a prospect (we prefer “prospect” over Frondizi’s “object”). Frondizi’s valuation is a broad activity, which would have as subsets, existential characterization and assessment of trade-offs. When Howard asks, “How would you value this prospect?,” Frondizi should hear, “How much would you valuate this prospect to establish trade-offs?” Frondizi reserves the use of value as a noun, in the sense that any prospect of interest has value. We find that this is similar in nature to Howard’s usage of direct and indirect values, which have packed in them an aspect of existential comprehension: what is an end-in-itself for the subject, and what is instrumental to achieving the end? We summarize this understanding in Table 2.1.

As we mentioned earlier, Keeney’s value spans the spectrum from ethical principles to trade-offs it covers both value and valuation in the axiological sense. Keeney explicitly discusses trade-offs under his treatment of utility. So, when Keeney uses the term utility in a multi-attribute setting to determine trade-offs, Howard should hear value and Frondizi should hear valuation to establish tradeoffs. This link between Keeney’s utilities and Howard’s values has been established in the extant literature [40]. Howard drops the term utility from his vocabulary altogether to prevent confusion with value, and distinguishes between trade-offs that are deterministic, and trade-offs that involve uncertainty. He uses iso-preference curves of value to describe the former (which the economists and Keeney would call utilities) and u-curves to describe the latter (which the economists call Von Neumann-Morgenstern preference probabilities).[24] We summarize this understanding in Table 2.2.

In summary, the distinctions of Axiology have helped us distinguish between the noun and the verb forms of value, and for each form, recognize the connection between Howard and Keeney’s approaches. We have thus answered our first research question.



Table 2.2: Reconciling value language in the Stanford School of Decision Analysis and MultiAttribute Utility Theory Stanford School of Decision Multi-Attribute Utility TheAnalysis ory Verb Value Utility-trade-offs e.g. How do you value this e.g. What are your utility tradeprospect? offs amongst the attributes of this prospect? Noun Value Objectives e.g. Does this prospect have di- Is this prospect a strategic funrect value or indirect value for damental objective or a meansyou? objective? We note that separation of existential comprehension from preference trade-offs allows the former to inform the latter more formally. Our focus from this point on will be on existential comprehension of value. Having said that, we note that Frondizi’s distinction of value and valuation applies (perhaps primarily) to existential comprehension. Frondizi was not thinking of trade-offs with the word “valuation” (although that is a useful distinction for decision analysts), rather, he was examining the relation between the subject and the object, which he felt were inseparable. The value of something cannot be examined independently of the subject who is doing the examining, unless the subject agrees to accept some axioms that allow the separation of the valuation activity from that which is being valued. It is these axioms that Hartman developed through the field of Formal Axiology, which we shall examine next.


Formal Axiology and The Hierarchy of Value

Pioneered by Robert Hartman, the field of Formal Axiology attempts to create a science of value. It does so with a fundamental axiom, similar to Aristotle’s, by defining good as concept or standard fulfillment[21, 103]: When we hear of a good automobile, we combine the properties of the concept “automobile,” which we have in our minds, with the idea of the particular automobile in question. We give to the particular automobile, of which we may know nothing, the properties of automobiles in general, of which we must know something. And thus we do whenever we hear that a concept is “good”: we combine the properties of the concept of the thing with the idea of the thing itself. This logical operation is the meaning of the word “good.” In the lineage of Hartman, Edwards has refined the definition of good as “exposition fulfillment,” [11] where something is good if it fulfills the expositional properties of its concept. For instance, we can think of a chair and list certain basic properties which are needed to call something a chair, and then list additional properties that make this chair a good chair. If an actual chair has these



additional properties, we then call it a good chair. With this understanding, Hartman goes on to define value. . . . Value. . . is defined as a formal relation, namely, the correspondence between the properties possessed by a subject and the predicates contained in the intension of the subject’s concept.[11] Hartman then goes on to note three dimensions of value: • Intrinsic: Valuable in-and-of itself. Axiomatically, human beings are taken as possessing intrinsic worth. People are intrinsic values. This includes both the self and other people. e.g. the value of one’s wife, one’s own life, others’ lives. More formally, the expositional goodmaking properties of concrete individual persons are so numerous that they are not practically countable. • Extrinsic: Instrumental or useful values. These are typically physical or material objects or human physical actions that arise in public spacetime, and can be thought of as assertions, as opposed to intrinsic values, which are declarations. e.g. a good chair, good behavior, good house. More formally, the expositional good-making properties of physical objects, actions, and processes are indefinitely large in number, but we are usually interested in only the countable set of the ones required to produce their desired effects. • Systemic: They are the value found in the class of value objects that we might call “conceptual.” They are constructs that have no physical reality. Beliefs, doctrines, ideas, systems, rules, conceptual knowle dge and conceptual truths are all in the realm of systemic value. e.g. a circle - something is either a circle or not a circle. A good driver in California in the legal sense is one who has not received tickets from traffic police for last three years. By this definition, you’re either a good driver or not. Typically, systemic values consist of a limited and fairly definite set of good-making properties about which “all or nothing,” “black or white” judgments are easily made. Systemic values exist in our minds, and they may or may not refer to realities beyond themselves. Systemic values are about perfection, extrinsic values are about practical (or prudential) goodness and intrinsic values are about uniqueness. [11] On uniqueness, Edwards notes: Uniqueness is a property of intrinsically good individual entities, but it cannot be the only intrinsic-good-making property. All intrinsically good entities (e.g., persons) are unique, but not all unique entities (e.g., ideas, things) are intrinsically good. Only unique beings that also exemplify other properties like consciousness, self-valuation, others-valuation, thinking, deciding, feeling, etc., are intrinsically good.[12]



Hartman also distinguishes between value and valuation, by noting that we can choose to deviate from the axiomatic relation between value objects and their dimensions, and valuate to place different value objects in the dimensions. While the treatment on value just presented was about what we value existentially, the current treatment is on how we value existentially. Valuation is about the emotional affect in an existential evaluation. • Intrinsic Relating to valued objects with very intense feelings involving complete personal identification and involvement. e.g. Love, empathy, compassion, intense concentration, etc. This arises when we are engaged in “being.” Conceptually, this is about applying exceptionally rich personal ideals or conceptual standards to valued objects. • Extrinsic Relating to valued objects with complex and intense everyday practical desires and feelings. This arises when we are “desiring.” Edwards calls this “everday interestedness.” Conceptually, this is about applying more elaborate practical ideals or conceptual ideals to valued objects. • Systemic Relating to value objects with minimal emotional or affective involvement. This arises when we are engaged in “analyzing.” Edwards calls this “objectivity,” “disinterestedness” or “impartiality.” Conceptually, this is about applying finitistic all or nothing ideal or conceptual standards to valued objects. Hartman then points out that by applying the fundamental axiom on the three dimensions on the same thing, we realize that if we admit intrinsic value on something, then this dimension must necessarily be richer than the other two dimensions on the same thing as the latter fulfill only a subset of the good-making expositional properties. Richness is defined as that which fulfills a greater number of expositional properties. Thus, we find that in addition to having dimensions of value, we also have a hierarcy of value. We note at this point that the realization of a system (extrinsic value and perhaps leading to intrinsic value) are richer to us than the concept of the system (systemic value). For example, when we hear of a restaurant called Karma Kitchen in Berkeley, California, where we are told that our meal has been paid for by someone before us, and we may choose to pay it forward to someone else, or just eat and leave, it catches our interest. By physically visiting Karma Kitchen and allotting our lunch hour there, we get an experience of this system, which is much richer than the thought of it. However, this experience is intended to trigger feelings of generosity, and if it does, we value our meal quite uniquely than a meal at any other restaurant that simply satisfies our hunger. The thought of a system like this might give us enough systemic value for us to want to visit the restaurant, over thoughts of other eating experiences. The actual experience of it constitutes extrinsic value in terms of satisfying an expectation of a “good eating experience.” But the feelings of gratitude that are generated touch us to our core, and make a meal at this restaurant a very unique experience (an intrinsic valuation of an extrinsic experience), which might explain why they run out of food



every-time they open and have an eight-week waiting list of people from all walks of life who want to volunteer to help run the place. Several questions may be raised on the validity of the fundamental axiom or the dimensions of value. What desiderata must we use when importing ideas from another discipline into decision analysis? We are guided by Jayne’s astute observation, which has applicability outside of statistical methods[29, 154]: Let me make what, I fear, will seem to some a radical, shocking suggestion: the merits of any statistical method are not determined by the ideology which led to it. For, many different, violently opposed ideologies may all lead to the same final “working equations” for dealing with real problems. Apparently, this phenomenon is something new in statistics; but it is so commonplace in physics that we have long since learned how to live with it. Today, when a physicist says, “Theory A is better than theory B,” he does not have in mind any ideological considerations; he means simply, “There is at least one specific application where theory A leads to a better result than theory B.” I suggest that we apply the same criterion in statistics: the merits of any statistical method are determined by the results it gives when applied to specific problems. The Court of Last Resort in statistics is simply our commonsense judgment of those results. We shall refer to this as Jaynes’ Law of Theory Evaluation and state it more generally as, “A theory is good if it is useful.” With this guiding criteria, we now turn our attention to the utility of the dimensions of value. We shall start by going back to our second research question, namely, what is the relation between positive ethics and direct value? We find that positive ethics tend to be an intrinsic valuation of an extrinsic value, where we link some action to our own identity. For example, Mother Teresa might have had the positive ethic of ridding the world of suffering. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank2 , might have the positive ethic of ending poverty from the world, as he eloquently states in his talks. Prospects that help fulfill our positive ethics should then be valuated intrinsically in the axiological sense and be incorporated in our direct values in the Decision Analysis sense. Prospects that involve material assets that can help us achieve our goals would have an extrinsic valuation in the axiological sense and an indirect value in the Decision Analysis sense. Prospects that involve fulfilment of a construct (e.g. regulations, symbolisms) would have a systemic aspect, though their fulfilment would have extrinsic aspects. For practical purposes, such prospects would typically be considered as indirect values in Decision Analysis as regulations/symbolisms/constructs exist to serve a purpose and not as an end-in-themselves. We note again that we are not establishing trade-offs here. Rather, our goal is to comprehend the prospect existentially and characterize its source of value as a precursor to identifying direct and indirect values and thinking about trade-offs.
2 and

winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006



Keeney’s strategic fundamental objectives span a broad spectrum - they could be positive ethics and hence be the result of an intrinsic valuation, and they could also manifest in public space-time and hence be the result of an extrinsic valuation. They could also be constructs (regulations, for instance) and hence be the result of a systemic valuation. Actions that result from an intrinsic valuation would tend to be value-rational, as they are driven by a belief in the value for its own sake. Instrumentally rational actions stem from constructs that help us think better, and hence would have to be linked to systemic valuation, and such a valuation is a means to realizing the extrinsic and finally the intrinsic value. We note that this does not preclude an intrinsic or extrinsic valuation - rather, intrinsic and extrinsic values are assumed into the systemic valuation. The systemic valuation is a means to an end. The systemic valuation by itself is value neutral, as Howard and Keeney have pointed out to us. When we connect it with the intrinsic valuation, we give it an ethical grounding. Hence, studying such a connection is important if we wish to align our objectives with our values. Put another way, intrinsic valuations can be treated as the root of direct values. In the existential sense, it is impossible to fathom how we might quantify or tradeoff these values. However, in a decision analytic sense, these are the values that we declare, as opposed to assert. A heuristic to test if something should be an instrinsic value is whether we are eble to explain why it is good. If we are, then it is not an intrinsic value, but a means to an end. In decision models, whatever we have chosen to measure and tradeoff as a direct value should connect qualitatively with the instrinsic value at the root. We will use these distinctions in Section 2.5 to critique prospects. We have thus answered the second research question on the link between direct value and positive ethics.


Identifying Sources of Value in Prospects

We now come to the final question before us - what are the benefits of studying the relationship between direct values and positive ethics? More specifically, how are the dimensions of value useful to us in our practical decision-making? The question of utility cannot be answered without specifying the context. Here, our context is that of a voluntary social policy decision.3 A good analyst’s task is to grasp how the decision maker understands the experience of the prospect, and we can use the axiological framework to throw light on this understanding. Just as a mathematician understands complex phenomenon by reducing it to a graph in two dimensions, and then adds a third to understand it at a deeper level, a decision analyst can use the three dimensions of value to grasp how the decision-maker understands value. At the same time, the hierarchical nature of the value categories guides the decision analyst in deciding between direct and indirect values. Finally, the distinction between value and valuation helps the decision analyst question the
3 See




existential valuation. We shall now use the dimensions of value to inform practical questions that an analyst can ask about prospects in order to understand how the decision-maker is valuating them: • How does this prospect relate to who I am? Is this prospect an end-in-itself? (Intrinsic) • Why is this prospect good for me? How is this prospect a means-to-an-end? (Extrinsic) • What metrics/rules/constraints/systems are included in this prospect? (Systemic) We note that the questions listed above are intended to discover valuations. However, by bringing in our axiomatic treatment of values, a follow-up question on intrinsic value may be asked, as follows: “Will this prospect be respectful of the intrinsic worth of all the people who will be affected by it, or will it treat all or any of us as mere means to ends or goals beyond ourselves, or as mere tokens within some system or ideology.” The answer to this question may cause the decision-maker to revise the axiological categorization of value objects. As a thought experiment, let us examine an example that Howard uses when describing direct value: [25, 52] I once conducted a session with oil company executives who believed they had to deal with about 30 different attributes in making their decisions. After about an hour of discussion, and of direct and indirect values, they finally agreed that there were only two direct values. One was the profitability of the company, and the other was harm to people surrounding their facilities as the result of company operations. Focusing on direct values considerably simplifies analysis of multi-attribute decision situations. What if an analyst faced with the same thirty attributes as the example above, had started by bucketing the clients’ experience of value into intrinsic, extrinsic and systemic compartments? The clients might experience the value in a prospect intrinsically if it involves loss of life, due to the inseparability of the prospect experience from themselves. The pain and trauma caused by the recognition of responsibility for harm is perhaps not something they can take out of their beings and give to someone else. This could be modeled as a direct value (or disvalue). They might also treat personal well-being in an intrinsic manner and the analyst may choose to model this source of value as the direct value of profitability. They might experience a prospect extrinsically if the prospect is prudential, or good for us for some reason. Another property that extrinsic prospects have is that they are somewhat separable from the notion of who we are. Resources (trained staff, equipment) might be an example of prudential prospects. These prospects are at best indirect values and perhaps alternatives that should be considered in the decision situation. Finally, clients could experience a prospect systemically from a construct or regulation fulfillment perspective. For instance, a goal to register 2% more profits this year is a measurable systemic goal which provides value. Systemic



values will typically also have some prudential or intrinsic value associated with them. It is some prudential or intrinsic value that gives our systems its life force. Getting more profit this year is prudential - when codified into a system that measures profit and requires 2% more, the systemic value obtained by fulling the rule does not fully capture the underlying prudential value generated that inspired the construction of the system. Put another way, systemic value is related to distinctions that, in the language of decision analysis, pass the clarity test.[25] Prudential and intrinsic values are therefore, outside the realm of systems or measurement. Moving on to Keeney’s process of identifying strategic fundamental objectives, we find the following: [36, 56] The most obvious way to identify objectives is to engage in a discussion of the decision situation. Early in the discussion, either the decision context or some objectives should be roughly outlined. With this rough description of the decision situation, you begin an iterative process by asking “What would you like to achieve in this situation?” The responses provide a list of potential objectives and a basis for further probing. We note that Keeney’s process is very similar to Howard’s whittling down of thirty attributes to just two, and therefore, our thought experiment is just as applicable to Keeney’s method as it is to Howard’s. The word attribute comes from the Latin attributus, which means, “a bestowed characteristic.” Howard uses the term in its English sense and refers to “attributes of prospects,” while Keeney defines attribute as the tool for measuring objective-fulfillment. He writes[36, 100], The degree to which an objective is achieved is measured by what I refer to as an attribute. . . . As an illustration of the notion of an attribute, consider a simple example. The objective of a firm to maximize profit can be measured by the attribute “annual profit in millions of dollars.” Howard’s direct value contains within it a notion of an attribute of value, the strategic objective, and optionally, a numeraire. Although our focus is on voluntary social policy decisions, we shall briefly look at regular businesses. If we assume most businesses to be interested in profit, one might argue that we would not need to go through the exercise of asking the axiological questions. However, we note that the multi-attribute scenario in Howard’s example was in an oil company, presumably a for-profit one. Collins and Porras argue [8, 55] that in visionary for-profit companies, “profitability is a necessary condition for existence and a means to more important ends, but it is not the end in itself for many of the visionary companies.” This is relevant to our discussion on values and underscores the need to identify intrinsic prospect experiences that are important to the decision-maker. Regarding profits as an end or as a means to-an-end is to look at it in a binary lens. Pallotta presents a more balanced perspective[45, 36]:



The fallacy is that the for-profit sector does not help people. If we shut down the global oil conglomerates tomorrow, we would soon find a world in need of a great deal more help than it is in need of today. . . . If not for the for-profit electric companies, we could not power any of our charities. . . . Helping people is what the for-profit sector does. . . . The for-profit sector simply doesn’t regard the presence of self-interest as being at odds with meeting need. Indeed, it regards the two as essentially connected. In this view, we would treat personal well-being as a source of intrinsic value and model it as the direct value of profitability, while also having other direct values that are derived from intrinsic sources (such as safety in the oil company example). We note that there is a possibility of miscommunication when we talk about experiencing the value of a prospect, in that there might be something objective in the prospect that causes the experience. We acknowledge the subjectivity of the experience wherein the subject may choose to valuate a prospect in any of the three dimensions. Further, we also recognize that the experience of value itself can be a decision. We shall have something to say on this before we conclude the chapter (see Section 2.8). We shall summarize our discussion so far in the table below (Table 2.3), which shows questions and the corresponding decision analysis distinctions that can spring from the answers. In the next section, we shall examine the application of these distinctions to police decision-making.


Application to the Stanford Police Department

Stanford’s police department is private in its financial sustenance and public in its regulatory powers. We shall use the police department as an example of a service-motivated organization that cares for more than just profit. Since the police department has a clear decision maker, the police chief, we shall treat the organization as an individual decision maker and shall treat the police chief as the proxy for this decision maker. In an interview, we verified the following with the police chief. For most police decisions, the police department’s main concern is “people.” They care most about protecting people from harm. We include both the community being served and the police officers in “people.” The police would experience intrinsic value (or disvalue) from prospects that involve harm to people. They would also experience intrinsic value from prospects that involve the mental and physical well-being of police officers. The police department has several assets - weapons, cars, communication equipment, etc. that help it respond effectively to calls for help. The police would experience the value of such prospects extrinsically - as assets that aid the function of protecting people and are transferable. They are



Table 2.3: Axiological questions and decision-modeling guidelines Dimension of Experiencing Stanford School of Decision Value Analysis Intrinsic or Identity Direct Value e.g. How does this prospect re- We would prefer to model such late to who I am or my funda- prospects as direct values. e.g. mental reasons for being a part in the direct value of financial of this organization? profitability, we might recognize the intrinsic value of personal well-being. Extrinsic or Prudential Indirect Value e.g. What aspects of this Material assets, behaviors, etc. prospect are prudential for us? that we might model as uncertainties or alternatives. These are at best indirect values. Systemic Second Order Indirect Values/ Regulatory Constraints e.g. What are important con- These are most typically distincstructs, regulations, or heuristics tions that spring from extrinassociated with this prospect? sic (prudential) value sources, as most systems are created out of a prudential need.

means-to-an-end, and would at best be indirect values, if not alternatives. Another prospect whose value may be experienced extrinsically is the training and behavioral ability to deal with situations of distress, which again, help the police department protect people and keep their officers safe, and are an indirect value. The safety of the property on campus is an interesting prospect. Since it belongs to people and directly affects their well-being, it could be valuated intrinsically (direct value). It might also be valuated extrinsically, by arguing that a safer property is a means-to-an-end for personal safety. In such a situation, we would want to model property safety as an indirect value. We can discover prospects that may be valuated systemically by asking the question, “what constructs (or regulations) do we need to follow?” A simple example is that of the “Officer Safety Constraint,” where the police department mandates the presence of two officers of the rank of deputy or above at any given time on campus, so that there is always a minimal level of backup for an officer. When modeling scheduling decisions, we would want to impose penalties if this constraint is broken.


A Retrospective Example

With this understanding of the different ways in which the police department experiences value in its prospects, we can now look at specific decisions to check if we have missed an important source of value. As a retrospective evaluation, we examine a decision diagram (see Figure 2.1) that was



drawn in 2006 by the author before undertaking the study of value. Figure 2.1: Whiteboard photograph of scheduling decision diagram

This diagram was drawn at the end of a discussion on a decision problem that involved scheduling. We note that there should be an arrow going from “Waiting Time for Caller” to “Quality of Service,” as the former is important only as it helps improve the quality of service. What we actually ended up modeling was a subset involving only the waiting time value (the upper half of the diagram was ignored). It was further reduced to a queuing theory problem where our object of interest was the chance that the police department would not be able to respond to a call for service and would need to divert the call to an external police department. We focused only on immediate calls for service and produced tables like the one in Figure 2.2, showing hot-spots where the chance of having to divert a call was above 5%. Looking back, the effective decision diagram we ended up solving would have looked like the one in Figure 2.3. We note first that the attribute we are interested in is the number of calls that are diverted to another police department. The objective is to keep this number as low as possible so we can handle as many calls for immediate service as possible. To test the utility of the axiological questions, we conducted the following exercise. The police chief was asked to critique the value node (“number of calls diverted”) without any props. Then, she was asked to critique it using the axiological questions.



Figure 2.2: Hotspots in the Schedule

Figure 2.3: Retrospective decision diagram of scheduling decision situation

We chose this value node as it is easy to criticize. And yet, some important sources of value were missed during the unstructured critique. The chief liked the structure and was able to critique more effectively. Next, we shall paraphrase a conversation from the researcher’s perspective (which was also echoed by the Police Chief).


The Intrinsic Question

What about this prospect can affect our identity? How does this prospect relate to our fundamental reasons for being in this venture? How does this prospect relate to things we care about intrinsically (you had identified earlier that you intrinsically care about public safety and officer safety)?



Chief: If we miss too many calls, this might be an indicator that we are not able to serve our community well and need to improve. Also, calls that are diverted would take longer to fulfill, leading to a higher chance of a bad outcome. Outside police departments may also respond in a heavy-handed manner as they wouldn’t be as familiar with the campus culture as we are. This would also affect the resolution of a call and could lead to bad outcomes. Intrinsically, we care about the well-being of the community we serve and the people in our department. Although this prospect touches on well-being of the community, it does not really connect with the well-being of our officers. Note: This conversation just gave us valuable clues on how to valuate diverted calls. In particular, we should have a big penalty for calls that are diverted as compared to the calls that get taken. The current implementation using queuing theory precludes such a treatment. It also precludes consideration of the well-being of the officers, which was included in the original diagram (WorkLife Balance), and even more fundamentally, officer safety. When doing the unstructured critique, the police chief missed out the officer safety connection, but quickly got to it when the structured question was posed.


The Extrinsic Question

What about this prospect helps us achieve our goals? Are their behavioral aspects or material assets related to this prospect? Chief: Our goal is to protect our community, and handling more calls helps us do that. Of course, there are behavioral aspects - we want our officers to treat our clients courteously and their professionalism in servicing a call is extremely important. Also, as I mentioned earlier, an external police department may behave differently with our community and affect call outcomes. We do need material assets such as cars, weapons, etc. and if we were to look at our officers as important resources, then we need more officers to respond to calls for service effectively. Note: Again, we received valuable clues on aspects that are not obvious in the decision diagram. It is not clear how behavioral aspects of call resolution are captured in the retrospective diagram, and it seems reasonable that we would want to come up with other attributes to measure this separately. The information on material assets might yield decision opportunities to acquire more resources. Such a decision is precluded by the current frame. We also recognize that the number of calls is at best an indirect value - it helps us keep the community safe. If we were to model this decision again, we might consider quantifying public safety and officer safety incidents and placing direct values on them.


The Systemic Question

What are important constructs/regulations that help us do what we need to do? What is the penalty for breaking some of these constructs/regulations?



Chief: Well, we would like to fulfill the “Officer Safety Constraint,” where, at any given time, we require two officers on campus. I would like our department to not break this, in the interests of officer safety. An officer should always have some backup. Note: An important constraint is revealed, which might warrant that we model a higher penalty for a situation where there are fewer than two officers on campus.


Effect of Questions

A simple conversation of this type can help our decision models gain more fidelity in value. If we had put in work-life balance as a result of this analysis, we would note that many officers in the Stanford police department live in cities that are too far for a daily commute (e.g. Sacramento), and hence rent a condo nearer to the campus for three or four days of the week, during which they spend 10-hour days policing the campus. We might consider creating housing for officers on campus and allowing them to eat freely at any cafeteria so they are incentivized to spend time on campus over more days and without having to stay away from their families. What would be the value of such an alternative? The current frame precludes such a discussion. We also note that the hexagon labeled “Quality of Service.” (Figure 2.1) is connected to an intrinsic and extrinsic source of value - the lives and property protected by the police department. A discussion on this source of value would quickly lead us to realize the importance of training and relaxation for police officers and help us brainstorm alternatives that affect these two distinctions. In summary, by asking the questions we’ve framed on the retrospective diagram (Figure 2.3), we get important modeling clues on were the value lies in the mind of the decision-maker, and how this value manifests in the prospects under discussion. If we follow through, we might be able to get closer to the original decision diagram (Figure 2.1) which considers important prospects we had missed out on earlier, and perhaps go even further. At a higher level, this contribution can help us make models that are aligned with our positive ethics.


Negative Biasing of Identitiy Question

We observe that for most human beings, projecting into the future is a difficult task. When faced with prospects of disability for oneself, one might project a life of great unhappiness. However, interviews and writings of disabled people reveal that they are at peace with their situation, and in fact, quite happy. We also note that this is not something they might have imagined before their disability, at the time of making decisions. Having said that, an individual’s value system can still be complex. An organization’s value system when treated like an individual tends to be a little simpler. The social organization’s response might tend to be to avoid causing harm to people, or reduce the harm that is already being caused. Typical responses to the identity question might end up with



the imagination of undesirable prospects. Such a bias may be balanced by focusing the organization on their positive ethics - why are they in business? It is usually for positive change, and one may trace a deep connection to one’s identity, with respect to one’s mission in the organization.


More Applications

We shall now apply the axiological questions to situations with grave prospects to demonstrate the use of the framework. The two situations we shall consider are: • Officer shot dead on campus • President Obama considering a pullout of US troops from Afghanistan • Discovering new alternatives for a bike-safety decision context


Officer Shot Dead on Campus

The decision-maker continues to be the police chief. As part of understanding the prospect, we will want to assess the likelihood of such an event. A relevance diagram would be useful to lay out the distinctions that can help us make such an assessment. Some of the distinctions might be: • Occurence of gun crimes on campus • Was the officer wearing a bulletproof vest? As we proceed to understand the experience of the prospect, we may note the following as part of the experience: • Grieving family and colleagues • Lower departmental morale • Internal and perhaps external investigation into the shooting • News Channels descend on campus to cover event • Stanford’s reputation as a safe campus is rocked • Police training program’s efficacy is questioned When we apply the Axiological categories, we find the following valuation questions: • Identity: How does the loss of an officer affect the chief’s identity (and by proxy, the department’s identity)? A human being, friend and colleague has been lost. This could deeply affect the police chief and the department. The police chief might resign. If the officer died in the line of duty, then the chances are that he or she saved civilian lives and made the department very proud, although very sad.



• Assets or Behaviors: Losing an officer is clearly far worse than losing a police car. In that sense, the police officer is indeed the most valuable asset of the police department. What police behaviors (or training) might prevent such a prospect? What assets could be acquired by the police department to prevent such a prospect? • Constructs: Is there a rule which, if followed, might have prevented this prospect? For example, was the Officer Safety Constraint (2 officers at any time on campus) followed? In the next step, as we consider decisions that can help improve officer safety, we can identify direct and indirect values. • Direct Values: Number of officer deaths on campus in the line of duty, number of civilian deaths on campus (to make it more realistic, we’d also have to consider serious injuries) • Indirect Values: Behaviors, assets and rules to keep officers and civilians safe In the final step of dealing with prospects, the decision-maker must trade-off her focus on protecting officers with protecting civilians in the context of a specific decision situation. The exact trade-off will be likely determined as the result of a decision-modeling effort, taking into account the various indirect values and constraints.


President Obama Considering a Pullout of US Troops from Afghanistan

The decision-maker here is the President of the United States, President Obama, who is considering whether to pullout US troops from Afghanistan. Before we discuss the likelihood of a prospect in Afghanistan without US troops, we need to first clarify what the prospect might be. For instance, some of the following might come up: • Afghan women are treated badly • Educational choices limited to religion • Erosion of fundamental freedoms in Afghanistan, a return to the old Taliban regime • More Buddha statues and cultural heritage sites will be under attack • American soldiers are not dying anymore in Afghanistan • Domestic pressure on Afghanistan eases up The next step would be to perceive the experience of value in each of these prospects. Which of these prospects would affect the decision-maker’s identity? As an example, the decision-maker might find that preservation of fundamental freedoms, equality of women and the right to choose our children’s education are values that are a part of the US identity, and as a proxy for the US, the



President should stand up for them. Will the US sleep easier with fewer of its children getting killed in combat? The President is answerable to the families of the soldiers, and this might be a prospect that affects him at the level of identity. At the level of assets and behaviors, the military is an asset of great value to the US, and diminishing this asset in Afghanistan may not be desirable. From the prospect of a stable Afghanistan, the President might want to focus the discourse on what assets or behaviors would the Afghans need to survive if the Americans pull out. As an example, the answer might include well-trained local police forces and armies under civilian command, to combat the Taliban, infrastructure for sanitation and education, etc. Finally, at the level of constructs, it would be worth thinking about the the value of US promises in the future, should it break its promise to help Afghanistan. Another cause of concern might be respect for international law and the precedent set by the United States. For the prospect of Afghanistan’s survival, what legal framework would help the country stabilize quickly without US presence? The axiological categories are helpful in identifying three kinds of value and we need to consider all three kinds to get a holistic view of the value in the prospects under discussion. While a holistic perspective might be of great help by itself, if there is a need to do some decisionmodeling, the answers to the axiological questions would guide the modeling effort. For instance, the direct values in such a model would need to connect with the sources of value that affect US identity at its core. They might be the number of lives of US soldiers saved and the number of civilian casualties averted. They might also include the freedoms of the Afghan people that have been safeguarded. Indirect values would include assets that help in the achieving of direct value both material and constructual (legal systems). We shall use this example again in Chapter 5 to examine how the axiological framework affects people’s decision diagrams.


Discovering new alternatives for a bike-safety decision context

In 2009, I spent spent three weeks with the head of the Department of Parking and Transportation at Stanford, coming up with all the decisions we could possibly think of as it connected with bicycle safety. We came up with a massive strategy table that captured several the decisions and paths through the alternatives to form a strategy theme. After we were done, I brought up the axiological questions to see if we might come up with any more decisions, and was surprised to find a whole class of decisions emerge from the systemic question. The bike-safety coordinator felt it was important to record the number of bike miles travelled, as we might claim it for carbon credits, which could be sold in the carbon-trading market to generate funds for the bike-safety program. This led to a quick back-of-the-envelop calculation to add up the distances of each parking permit holder’s residence from campus. It turns out that on average, Stanford is paying $114 per metric ton of carbon generated with its clear-air cash program. The program is supported by revenue from parking permits. However, funding could be expanded by exploring cap-n-trade mechanisms that are under



regulatory exploration, as also a voluntary cap-n-trade system that could be pioneered by Stanford University.4


Is the Experience of Value a Decision or a Condition

When discussing the experience of value, we would be remiss if we did not touch upon an important philosophical question, namely, is the experience of value a condition or a decision? Eastern psychology points to the latter as a deeper truth, and the former as an apparent truth. From the Vipassana technique of meditation, we find four key phenomena that explain the working of the mind: consciousness, perception, sensation and reaction. The first phenomenon, consciousness, works “to cognize, simply to know, without differentiating. A sound comes into contact with the ear, and the (consciousness) notes only the fact that a sound has come.”[19] The second phenomenon of the mind, perception, is about recognizing something from one’s past experience as good or bad. For instance, a sound may consist of words of praise or words of abuse. The third phenomenon of the mind, sensation, is what arises in response to the recognition. For something that was perceived to be pleasing, pleasant sensations arise throughout the body, and similarly for unpleasant perceptions, unpleasant sensations arise throughout the body. These sensations are felt by the mind. The fourth phenomenon of the mind is to pull out the reaction from a database of past reactions to such sensations. At this point, the tendency of the mind is to apply the reaction, and deepen the habit-pattern as the applied reaction gets stored in the mind for future access. Moreover, the reaction creates its own stimulus and the cycle repeats, multiplying the perception and thereby the sensation. However, the teachers of meditation urge the student to discover a space between the habitual reaction that arises as an informational element and the response that is a decision. Instead of reacting as a response, the student is urged to stay equanimous, and develop equanimity as an antidote to all habits. As the habit-conditioning dissolves, the cycle breaks immediately, and the physical experience also starts to change. Instead of multiplying and feeding on itself, the effect of stimuli becomes short-lived, and the action taken is less and less a reaction and more and more a thoughtful action. In this sense, the experience of positive and negative stimuli becomes more of a decision. This explanation helps us understand the experience of value in the moment, and if every moment may be dealt with equanimously, then the value experienced in the future is no longer a concern for analysis for one who lives in this way. It is a determination of the present moment. If everyone were to live in this way, we would not have to worry about our actions. However, as most of us have not trained enough to live in the moment, the experience of value is in large part influenced
voluntary carbon offset mechanisms mostly operate out of a non-profit mindset where companies buy offsets for public relations purposes. Such a mindset has kept the carbon trading price very low (around $2 per metric ton in many exchanges). The regulatory environment could destroy even this market if it mandates carbon limits. A voluntary solution for cap-n-trade may just be the approach that has eluded us so far.
4 Current



by conditions around us, and insofar as we desire to affect such conditions with our decisions, the need for thoughtful action remains.



We started out by considering three questions: 1. Howard and Keeney mean different things by the term “value.” How can we reconcile the two? 2. What is the relation between strategic fundamental objectives and values? (Keeney); What is the relation between direct values and positive ethics? (Howard); What is the relation between instrumental and value rationality? (Weber) 3. What are the benefits of studying such a relation? We answered the first question by establishing the distinction between value and valuation and clarifying the difference of usage of value between Howard and Keeney. We answered the second question by borrowing from the hierarchy of value in formal axiology. The hierarchy helped us identify intrinsic, extrinsic and systemic sources of value. We connected positive ethics with intrinsic valuations. Finally, we applied Jaynes’ criteria of a good theory as one that was useful to point out that even if we are unconvinced about formal axiology, the practical questions leading from it could be useful. We then answered the third question of the benefits by formulating three levels of questions that help us understand how we experience the value of a prospect under consideration. This understanding gives us clues about what we should consider modeling in the decision situation. The questions to be asked are: 1. How would my experience of this prospect affect my personal identity? How does this prospect relate to my fundamental reasons for being in this business? Upon the fruition of this prospect, would I feel great fulfillment or great regret? 2. How is this prospect prudential for us? 3. What are important regulations/symbolisms/systems that help us do what we need to do? What is the penalty for breaking some of these regulations? This chapter helped us gain some new distinctions on value through axiological questions, which we’ve adapted for our use in the context of decision analysis. We also showed how prospects that are comprehended intrinsically tend to be good candidates for direct values, while the other two prospects give us clues about indirect values. Prospects that are comprehended systemically can clue us in on regulations or constraints in the environment that need to be met. At a broader



level, we have focused on how we might appreciate sources of value, and note that in the process of appreciating value with the axiolgoical distinctions, we might end up discovering more sources of value. In the next chapter, we shall take a methodological dive into the police department and use an ethnographic analysis to uncover embedded sources of value in culture. More than the specific insights generated on our police case study, we shall propose the ethnographic method as a powerful way of understanding the values of a culture.



Chapter 3

Discovering Embedded Values in Culture
Finally, the most certain method of preventing crimes is, to perfect the system of education. But this is an object too vast, and exceeds my plan; an object, if I may venture to declare it, which is so intimately connected with the nature of government, that it will always remain a barren spot, cultivated only by a few wise men. Cesare Beccaria, concluding remarks in “Of Crimes and Punishments,” 1764



In the previous chapter, we relied on finding sources of value through explicit interactions with the decision-maker. What if the decision-maker is unable to articulate important sources of value? This could happen if there is a source of value that is too deeply ingrained in the organizational culture to be articulated explicitly, in what Weber calls “traditional action.”[67, 24-26] In this chapter, we concern ourselves with discovering sources of unarticulated value. As in the last chapter, we will continue with the context of the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS), a police department that is funded privately but deputized by a public agency, thereby having the same powers and responsibilities as a public police department. We will use ethnographic analysis 39



as our research method, and look not just at the department and its activities but also more broadly at the extant literature on private policing and police culture. In the policing environment of the SUDPS, we ask the following research questions: • What does the SUDPS value? • What motives do they exhibit? • Where do these motives come from? • What is the rhetoric they use to describe what they value? Findings indicate that the SUDPS has acquired the goals of the environment they are situated in. SUDPS Officers like to view themselves as educators instead of enforcers. While public police engages in “good pinches,” and private police uses “snowflakes,” Stanford police uses what we shall term “soft pinches” to combine education and enforcement. This study helps us understand the cultural context of the Stanford police department and education as a key source of value that will enhance the police department’s value dashboard.


Value Rhetoric of Private Campus Police
Police Work

Policing, broadly defined, is the “preservation of the peace” such that “persons and property are free from unwarranted interference so that people may go about their business safely” [53]. Most people perceive policing as having been a public function since its inception, funded by local, state or federal governments. However, policing has a varied history with both private and public forms dominating certain eras. In our present time, the swing is toward private policing, with over three-fourths of all policing in the United States handled by private entities [10]. This swing in favor of private policing has also been seen in Canada, UK and the rest of Europe [53]. The earliest record of private policing was a feudal policing system around the Anglo-Saxon times in Britain called “frankpledge,” a form of community policing that started around the 11th century AD [54]. Every male above the age of twelve would join a group of neighbors to form a tithing. The tithing had law enforcement responsibilities and ten such tithing would be supervised by a constable appointed by a local nobleman [64]. This system began disintegrating around the 13th century AD due in large measure to a centralization attempt which culminated with the passage of the Statute of Winchester in 1285 by Edward I. Due to increasing crime by “vagabonds,” Edward introduced this statute to make “the people of each hundred and franchise responsible for robberies and damages arising from their failure to produce the offenders.” This proved to be a huge financial burden. More and more duties were thrust on the tithing representative, who was starting to function like a



special peace officer while lacking the ability or training to perform the new functions. Around 1387, the emergence of “special royal commissioners” with prosecution power undermined the frankpledge system, which would soon be stripped of arrest powers without “process” from the commissioners [42, 153]. The tithing system was replaced by a parish constable system which placed more authority in the hands of the parish constable for law enforcement. Uchida describes this system: One man from each parish served a one-year term as constable on a rotating basis. Though not paid for his work, the constable was responsible for organizing a group of watchmen who would guard the gates of the town at night. These watchmen were also unpaid and selected from the parish population. If a serious disturbance took place, the parish constable had the authority to raise the “hue and cry.” This call to arms meant that all males in the parish were to drop what they were doing and come to the aid of the constable. [64, 4] Although the parish constable system came into existence through legislation, there is evidence of the system being largely privatized over time. Unprecedented development in the cities led to higher crime rates and the parish constable system began to crumble due to lack of co-ordination. Reith describes these times through the Police Report of 1839: It (the report) shows that administration of the new borough police forces was falling into the hands of licensees and brewers and local vice-providers, and that in other areas such police as existed were parish constables, privately paid deputy parish constables, parish night-watchmen, street watchmen paid by subscriptions, privately paid watchmen, parish beadles, parish ward constables, and various officers appointed by local officials, all “thwarting each other on all occasions to prove their independence.” [48, 203] The report, notwithstanding its critical tone, evidences widespread private policing in 19th century England, very similar to what we see today in the US, Canada and Europe. Reith also describes a unique private policing construct, a “Prosecution Society,” which would offer services of tracing thieves, threatening them with prosecution and bargaining to retrieve part of stolen property. [48, 204] Due to the financial risk of prosecuting thieves, bargaining with them became common practice. This led to the rise of notorious characters like Jonathan Wild, a thief in the guise of a policeman. Wild called himself “Thief-Taker General” and would find thieves and retrieve stolen property. However, in practice, he would be involved in the stealing through his gang of thieves after which he would negotiate with the owner of the goods to return all or part of the goods for a fee and amnesty from prosecution. [57] Such an environment set the stage for an effort to introduce a centralized public police force. Surprisingly, this seems to be less the result of popular opinion and more the efforts of a few individuals, primarily, Sir Robert Peel, Britain’s Home Secretary at the time. He was appointed to



his post by the Prime Minister for the explicit task of creating public police in London in response to a perceived absence of any means of securing observance of laws. Initially, he had to face a “severe rebuff” in parliament after which he carefully navigated his way through political waters to create the first centralized, public police force. [48, 121-123] He did this through the London Metropolitan Act, passed in the early 19th century, after which a full-time, uniformed police force was established with the purpose of patrolling the city. Peel hired “even-tempered and reserved” men. He chose navy blue as the color of the uniform instead of a military red.1 [64] In a sense, Peel may be called the father of the modern public police. Although a centralized police force came to stay in the public consciousness, private policing reemerged, and now comprises half of the UK’s policing work. [31] The history of policing in the UK may be viewed as a largely private evolution interspersed with eras of public control during periods of private failure. Over time, public structures are adapted by citizens to allow private fulfillment of policing needs. We find this trend in the United States as well, which, as a colony of England in the 17th and 18th centuries, inherited the English constable system of the time, with a county sheriff appointed by the governor performing the role of the parish constable. The sheriff was given a fixed fee for his work, and also had to collect taxes which fetched him a higher fee. As a result, law enforcement was a low priority. [64] By the 19th century, security could be contracted out to private firms, and this became a valuable service as burgeoning population growth led to higher crime rates which put a lot of pressure on the public policing system. Private policing came under tight scrutiny in the late 19th century, when the Pinkerton contract police organization was involved in the Homestead massacre at which striking laborers were killed by officers enforcing strikebreaking measures. [53] The ensuing public outrage caused a shift in perception and led to the rise of a state-centric view of policing which accepted policing as a state monopoly. This notion of policing changed in the 1960’s through a “quiet revolution,” primarily due to the “shift in property relationships” where property ownership has moved away from “small, separate free-holdings” to “mass private property,” such as hotels, college campuses, shopping malls and companies, among others. [60] Shearing and Stenning argue: Whenever one finds a shift in property relations toward such large geographically connected holdings of mass private property one also finds a shift toward private policing initiatives. [52] From this brief history, it is clear that the nature of police work has changed with the times. Historically policing seems to have been a largely private function interspersed with eras of public control that follow public outrage over mishaps. After the furor has died down, private policing reemerges to meet the needs of the people, although in a different incarnation each time. This is
success of this tactic may be understood in part by the relationship between color and emotion, which remains fairly constant to this day. In a study of college students, the color “blue revealed the feelings of relaxation and calmness, followed by happiness, comfort, peace, and hope,” while the “the negative aspects of red included having associations with fight and blood as well as Satan and evil.” [34]
1 The



evidenced by the burgeoning private security industry in both the United States and the UK: What was considered a duty of a state half a century ago is now increasingly treated as a service that can be provided for a fee. However, the literature on policing has primarily viewed the evolution of policing from an etic and philosophical position as opposed to a grounded emic view. This has resulted in frameworks that distort the social context by superimposing a political position with little historical or cultural accuracy. Marxian analysis has been state-centric and fixated on viewing private policing through the lens of past failures, while ignoring their evolution. Rigakos points this out in his critique: Today’s private security companies have little involvement in anything resembling the suppression of organized strikes, although there are notable exceptions. On the contrary, the vast majority of social control exercised by the private police is accomplished with the compliance of subject populations and is organized far outside the purview of state intrusion. [49, 11] Focauldian scholarship has limited itself to institutional analysis while ignoring social interactions. This has resulted in an inaccurate classification, as Rigakos points out in a critique of Shearing and Stenning: Thus, while the public police concern themselves with making ’good pinches’ under their crime prevention mandate, the private police, under their ’loss prevention’ mandate, drop ’snowflakes’ (or notices of risk to property) in order to responsibilize workers. This binary understanding of how security is organized elicits conclusions about the nature of private security that cannot account for its multiple manifestations. [49, 16] Both Marxian and Focauldian scholarship have been exploring the value of private police through their respective philosophical positions. Discourses on the value of private police have been subjected to the lens of accountability. How would private police officers with public coercive powers hold themselves accountable? Would the enhanced authority make private police authoritarian? In order to answer the question of accountability, the notion of accounts must be examined. Accounts are provided when we deviate from “background expectancies”. [50] Background expectancies arise from traditional notions of police work and its value. Therefore, a change in such notions will also change the way police work is valued and reshape the concomitant accountability structures. However, private police are often held accountable with structures that are associated with public police. Stenning argues that this is rather problematic. First, those assessing accountability of public police “frequently overstate” their case by focusing on theoretical accountability, based on a view of morality and ethics, and not actual accountability that is found by observing social interactions. Second, the assessors of accountability “typically understate the effective accountability of private police by ignoring mechanisms through which private police may be held



accountable, but which are not applicable (at least not in the same way or to the same extent) to the public police.” [59, 337] This creates a disjuncture between the evidence on the ground and the emerging theory. The value of police work thus remains an open question that needs to be reconciled through an emic analysis that will help explain how the police acquire their motives. Such a reconciliation is necessary to explicate the observation that private police systems eventually reemerge in spite of sporadic efforts to outlaw their existence. Indeed, there have been very few attempts to bridge this gap by providing an emic perspective through the ethnographic tradition. Shearing and Stenning [55] provide some field data on Disneyland where they point out how every staff member performs a policing function and helps to maintain order on the premises. Rigakos’ work on Canada’s private policing agency, Intelligarde, is perhaps the first ethnography of private policing in North America. He provides us with a “thick description” [18, 10] of a private police force situated in the context of certain Canadian neighborhoods. While this is an important contribution to our understanding of private police, Rigakos’ most cogent postulate is problematic: Private security must be understood in the context of its existence, as a profit-making enterprise under the capitalist mode of production. [49, 25] While the first part of the postulate is a guiding principle of this ethnographic research, the second part suggests a Marxian filter that is used to interpret ethnographic findings. However, Intelligarde’s officers don’t talk about themselves in a Marxian fashion, and such a filter causes distortions when superimposed on ethnographic data. We must understand policing not only in the context in which it occurs but also from the perspective of those who do it. Although Rigakos [49, 16] faults Shearing and Stenning for promoting a “binary understanding” of public and private police which is unable to account for its multiple manifestations, he too falls into that trap by creating a binary distinction on profit that does not account for the heterogeneity of policing. Policing organizations do not necessarily fit into the homogeneity of capitalist or governmental modes of operation. Rigakos reduces a much richer social process to an economic process. The existence of “hybrid policing” has been pointed out by Johnston [31], who describes it in the context of England and Wales as follows: This field (formal policing) comprises a complex morass of agencies, many of which are ’hybrid’ organizations whose formal status and operating territories cut across the publicprivate divide. Classification of such bodies is difficult because of the wide variations between them. Some are organized, uniformed forces. Others consist merely of agents with the right to exert specific legal powers in given situations. . . . [31, 114] The object of our study in the previous chapter, the Stanford police department, is a hybrid organization that gets its police powers from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office, while the



funding comes from Stanford University. What do members of this organization value? What motives do they exhibit? Where do these motives come from? What is the rhetoric they use to describe what they value? This chapter will address these questions through an ethnography.


Research Methods

Our main research tool in this chapter is ethnographic analysis. The ethnographic research method consists of several steps, which are followed in an iterative fashion (see Figure 3.1). Figure 3.1: The Ethnographic Research Method

It is important to note that the process of an ethnography is a circle. It is not necessary to start with the question. Infact, it is often the norm to discover the best questions that can be answered from the data after the data has been collected. In the case of this study, there was a broad interest in the values of the police department, but the questions were crystallised much later. Diving deeper, the data collection methods were primarily field observation and interviewing over a period of a year (2006). Field Observation involved going on ride-alongs, attending briefings and large-scale community events. I went on four ride-alongs, two of which were during the day and two of which were at night. I’ve also attended the planning and execution of security arrangements for a “Back from the Dead” Halloween party in 2006. I’ve attended two formal briefings and also covered



informal briefings in the parking lot. The ride-alongs were opportunities to interview deputies. I’ve also interviewed two Lieutenants and one Sergeant separately. The Sergeant was interviewed twice in the same quarter, two weeks apart. On ride-alongs, I took notes on paper, often sketching the scene of action. When attending briefings, I used Microsoft OneNote on my laptop and a digital audio recorder. I have also used a camera to take photographs of equipment and officers in action. By pursuing “methods triangulation,” my intention was to validate what I heard in the interview with action on the ground. Through “data triangulation,” I hoped to get perspectives from different actors in the police department. By visiting the police department over the past year, and setting up an arrangement to conduct the study for at least two more years, I used “extended fieldwork” to observe stable patterns of relationships. By transcribing the interviews from the audio records and my field notes, I tried to reduce my reliance on recollection. [30] The data analysis was done through Atlas-TI, a qualitative data analysis tool. Using this tool, I assigned first-pass codes (or initial categories) to the transcribed data. Initial codes were primarily descriptive labels; they flagged types of actions and actors as displayed in Table 3.1. There were two broad classes of first-pass codes - actions and roles.

Table 3.1: First-pass Codes Actions Roles Bike stop, talking to victims, writing tickets, Paperwork administrator, community interaction, formal training, trainer, informer, formal briefing, patrol, ride-along, report writing, educator, enforcer triage, informal briefing

Second-pass codes, which were less purely descriptive, were then created sometimes by combining several of the first-pass codes. For instance, “different hats” indicated that police officers had multiple roles that defined their professional work. This code was a combination of the first-pass codes under roles in the table above. It emerged in-vivo from an interview with a sergeant: You know, this job is so diverse, there’s so many different hats you have to wear. I look at it as - they have to wear that hat and have to learn how to operate in that mode. “Negotiating roles” was about switching from one role to another. “Fit” was about fitting in with the culture of the department. Then, I built a network graph (see Appendix A) of the codes which helped me distil some more second-pass codes. While researching the history of the SUDPS, I have relied on the following: 1. Newspaper articles that either capture historical events at Stanford or provide an interview with key police functionaries



2. Video of a talk on the police department given at Stanford by the current chief of police, Laura Wilson 3. Interview with Marving Herrington, founder of the current police department and chief of police from the early 70s until 1998 4. Interview with John Schwartz, an Asst. Professor of Physics who advised the President of Stanford University during the student disruptions in the 70s and was instrumental in the formation of a deputized police department I have relied on extant literature to draw comparisons with the public and strictly private police. The reading stage was undertaken after the data had been collected, coded and analyzed. The answers were formed prior to formulating the questions, and the process was iterative. A big part of ethnographic research happens during writing, where the phases are visited in a non-linear fashion. The ethnographic method will receive some more attention again toward the end of this chapter.


SUDPS: History and Operations

People who have not attended a university are often unaware that colleges and universities can have their own police departments. People who are aware often evaluate such policing in light of their conception of a public police force employed by a city or county. This conception leads to speculation around a campus police force having enough work. The police department is aware of this perception. In a talk on campus, police chief Laura Wilson told the audience: We are sort of seen as second-tier law enforcement at times. You know, “Oh, you’re on a college campus. What happens there?” You just saw what happens on a college campus (she had just shown pictures from the riots of the 60s and 70s on campus). Those riots weren’t taking place anywhere else. Colleges attract a certain element of . . . you know it’s a hub, intellectual banter and discussion, unfortunately sometimes it generates violence. . . . I actually think in some ways doing law enforcement on a college campus is even more difficult than doing it in a municipality, especially on a campus like this. The Stanford police department is officially known as the Department of Public Safety. It is neither fully private, nor public. Rather, it has the attributes of both types of policing. Technically, all sworn officers of the department are reserve officers who are deputized by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office. The earliest records of Stanford’s Police Department are from 1928 when it was a traffic department with one patrolman, John Olsen, who was on a break from the candy business on advice from his doctor.2 Olsen returned to his business in 1930 to be succeeded by Gordon Davis, who
2 “John

Olsen resigns as Campus Cop,” The Stanford Daily, February 4, 1930



went on to build up the department until the fifties. Davis gave an interview to the Stanford Daily upon completing 17 years of service in 1947. At that time, the department had 11 staff members including the chief, of which 8 were patrolmen and two were night watchmen. The department had “seen everything from parking violations to murder.”3 The interview provides a glimpse of how the chief thought of the department: “We are part of Stanford, working with the students,” he (Davis) said. “If the department were to be called in by the students for aid in an acute problem,” David continued, “we would lend a hand quickly. Our eight patrolmen and two night watchmen are not in conflict with student government, but work with it.” In the pre-60’s era, one event of note was the stealing of a ceremonial axe at the Big Game with Berkeley. The late 60’s brought far more serious problems than stolen axes. This period was traumatic for law enforcement in general across the United States due to the Civil Rights movement. Riots engulfed almost every major city between 1964 and 1968. Most of the disorders were initiated by a routine incident involving the police. . . . Police actions were also cited as contributing to the disorders. Direct police intervention had sparked the riots in Harlem, Watts, Newark and Detroit. In Watts and Newark the riots were set off by routine traffic stops. In Detroit a police raid on an after-hours bar in the ghetto touched off the disorders there. The police thus, became the focus of the national attention. [64] Things got worse with the Vietnam war. There were several protests by students around Stanford’s involvement with military research, leading to the severance of ties with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) which was then sold off.4 Many campuses across the United States were hotbeds of anti-war activism. It was common to see police officers from other police departments wearing riot gear on the Stanford campus trying to control protesters. The Spring of 1970 was infamously referred to as Cambodia Spring, after President Nixon ordered U. S. troops into Cambodia in April. The President of Stanford University at the time, Richard Lyman, remarked later, The Cambodia spring was the most thoroughly disrupted period. The police were called to campus I think 13 times in two months, and a lot of people were hurt. One person was even shot in the leg. It was just a very, very rough April and May, and a general strike closed the university pretty well down, and there wasn’t much we could do about it. I remember the then police chief (Tom Bell) putting up a notice saying “If you can’t get to your office, try to identify the people who are preventing you from doing so and turn their names in, but we can’t do anything to help you.” [44]
3 “Chief 4 The

Davis recalls 17 seasons on Farm,” The Stanford Daily, November 11, 1947 trustees of Stanford University decided to sell SRI with no restrictions in early May 1969



Stanford was without a chief for four months after Chief Tom Bell left the violent campus atmosphere in disgust. [44, 22] Asking for help meant calling the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office. John Schwartz, an Assistant Professor who advised the President during the disruptions, remarked, The difficulty was that it was an all-or-nothing response. It became extremely difficult, as much for the sheriff’s department as for the University. In that, look, if there is a disruption the sheriff is not going to send three uniformed deputies. They either mobilize a few bus loads of their tac squad in riot gear or nobody comes. It’s frustrating but understandable, at the time. It was provocative to the students. It was costly for the sheriff’s department. It was a very difficult thing to do soon enough. That is to say, if you’re going to mobilize that many peace officers and get them all together and then bring them to the staging area and coordinate a bus, you’re looking at hours and hours, and it did not work to say in advance, “Well, look, we know there’s going to be an event on the campus that could produce difficulties, so get ready.” Police departments don’t work that way. The University realized that they needed peace officers to communicate to students that they would be arrested for violating the law. At the same time, they wanted peace officers who would not treat the situation as a battle zone and do their best to avoid arresting students. In Schwartz’s words: The idea was to get a small number, 2 or 3 uniformed (we felt that the uniform makes a difference) peace officers at the early stages, very early stages, of some disturbance, we believed it could be diffused. Because, as I said earlier, these things become more and more entrenched, hour by hour. The people who began it are no longer the people who are running it. The University started to push for legislation that would allow private campuses to upgrade their police from security guards to full “peace officer” status.5 An interim chief, William Wullschleger, was appointed6 while the university searched for a permanent appointee to help build up the department. The search ended with the recruitment of Marvin Herrington, an officer with a good reputation who had developed Northwestern University’s “eight-man security group . . . into a highly-trained 40man police department.”7 Herrington was heading security operations in 19 state colleges at the time he was recruited. When Herrington came in, the university had been negotiating with the Sheriff of Santa Clara county to obtain peace officer status for the SUDPS.
5 “Campus 6 “Police

Police Bill Argued In Assembly,” The Stanford Daily, July 16, 1971 Chief Named,” The Stanford Daily, May 12, 1971 7 “State College Official to Head Campus Police,” The Stanford Daily, July 23, 1971



Herrington joined Schwartz and other University officials in negotiations with the attorney general to let the department hire peace officers under strict professional standards. Given the extraordinary situation on campus, the attorney general at the time agreed that he would essentially approve that a private entity such as Stanford could pay reserves to work for them. Thus, legally, the department exists on the basis of an attorney general’s “opinion”8 that a private institution can pay a government agency for reserve officers. The deputization process was also worked out around this time. Stanford signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sheriff of Santa Clara County agreeing to abide by the rules and regulations required by his office. This MoU is unique to Stanford University and has a careful description of powers and requirements that allows the department to function in the university. In Herrington’s words: The key to that agreement is that the University did something that I don’t know of any other university that’s ever done this. I know there’s no private university that’s ever done this.9 They agreed to hire us, pay us, and in terms of the University, they would tell us what services they wanted. . . . But the job itself, they don’t interfere with. And, there is a bright line between records. Police records at Stanford are not open to the university unless they would be opened by a subpoena or a judge or the university is by virtue entitled to the information because they are party to some crime or something, they’re a victim. The President can’t call the police chief and say, look this student up and tell me if he’s got a criminal records. No. Can’t do that, against the law. That’s a big step for a university. But it was established at a time when it was chaos - everything was . . . it was a battleground, really. And at that time, and then as it developed, the university became more and more comfortable with it. What I told the President was, this is something you can point to when the parent comes in and says “I demand you do something about that. Don’t let the police do this.” He says, “I can’t do it, its against the law. I can’t tell the police not to arrest somebody.” . . . I think that’s the reason it succeeded for thirty-some years because we made it very clear at the outset that this would be a standalone police department not answerable to the university in terms of legal actions. We’re not going to go in there and say, “Is it alright to arrest this person or not?” The first time the administration knows about an arrest is when it’s on the sheet when any newspaper can come and look at it. Through the MoU, the University promised to abide by all the rules and regulations that were deemed as requirements of police officers by the Sheriff’s office. In return, the Sheriff’s office would
8 Estelle Younger, the Attorney General in 1973, recorded her opinion on this subject, which then allowed the Stanford police department to exist 9 Vanderbilt University and University of the Pacific are private universities with similar police arrangements where officers are deputized by their neighboring public police departments. This comment underscores the independent development of the Stanford police department.



deputize Stanford police officers and give them the same powers as any public police officer. New recruits to the department are sent to a police academy and are taught by trainers who’ve been certified through the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) organization or through the sheriff. The training now runs for twenty two weeks, but initially, Herrington had to take bold steps to make it a requirement.10 Present chief Laura Wilson mentioned this in a talk: He (Herrington) came in and was alarmed by the fact that people didn’t have a tremendous amount of training. So he actually took all their guns away. Let me tell you, taking a gun away from a police officer doesn’t go over very well, makes them very unhappy. So, he disarmed everyone and made everyone reapply. So that whole group of folks that you saw (in a picture), I think only about five people actually passed the new standards to be part of the new police department. One of the conditions was that the new officers would have to attend a full police officer’s academy. We wouldn’t even dream of doing anything else now, but back then, that was a whole five weeks. Now it’s six months long. The Sheriff’s office has oversight on the SUDPS. However, for all practical purposes, the Stanford Police operate independently and report to the Chief Financial Officer of Stanford University for business matters and to the President of Stanford University for policy matters. Herrington explained policy decisions in an interview: (Say) we have a building takeover - there’s demonstrators, they come in and they sit down in the building and they are not throwing bricks through the windows. They are occupying. They are not damaging anything. As a police officer, as a public police officer, that’s not my property. I go to the President and say, “So what do you want done? It’s your policy. If you say they are trespassing and disrupting business, we’re going to go in and arrest them. If you say, let them sit in there, I don’t care. It is not my call.” You look to the president as the owner, the acting owner of the university property, and you say, “Do you want this to be done, or you don’t want it done.” You may want to try other avenues before we’re called in. But once we’re called in, you can’t say “We don’t want to do it.” Because once you commit and say to me, “I want those people arrested and taken out of there, I’m gonna do it.” During the 90’s, ideas about what constitutes a viable and effective organization began to seep into departmental culture from the world of business and consulting. Herrington attended a talk on campus around 1994, by Jerry Porras, co-author of the book “Built to Last,” which exposed the chief to their research about lasting organizations. The researchers exhorted that great organizations had a “core purpose.” Herrington set about articulating the police department’s core purpose and
10 The Stanford Department of Public Safety Officers Association (SDPSOA) opposed the deputization plan and demanded federal mediation. “Police Balk at Deputization Plan,” The Stanford Daily, Jul 18, 1972.



came up with a document that is followed unchanged by the department to this day. This document describes the department’s core values: We pledge to honor the spirit and letter of the laws we are charged to uphold. We will strive to maintain and improve our professional skills and knowledge. We will project a positive and courteous image towards our clients and fellow employees. We will dedicate our full attention to our duties to earn and maintain the public trust. The hallmarks of our service and conduct will be a dedication to the principles of honesty, integrity, fairness, courage and courtesy. This extract was pasted on the walls of the department and used during briefings by the chief to assess whether the department was living up to the core values. It wasn’t easy to get the department to accept these core values. According to Herrington, Some of the senior people in the department didn’t want any part of it. They argued back and forth with me but they just were against it. It wasn’t a police thing. One of the words in here that was most objectionable, that I got a lot of negative feedback on, was the reference to clients. “We’ll project a positive and courteous image toward our clients and fellow employees.” Well, when I defined what a client was - it’s every drunk you pick up, it’s everybody you come in contact with. If you look at them through those eyes, you’ve got a lot better perspective. This person has a problem, I gotta deal with it. But he’s not the enemy, he’s a client. Taking a drunk driver off the road. Even if he bites me, I’m doing him a favor. I had a hard time getting through that. Some of them didn’t accept it, then they retired and were gone. Herrington retired in 2001 and was succeeded by Marvin Moore, who passed away due to a heart attack in early 2002, to be succeeded by the present chief, Laura Wilson. The department had (as of 2006) 32 sworn officers, which is less than half the number of officers that Stanford employed in1970, even though the number of buildings on campus had doubled since then. The number of students had also increased. There were fifteen Community Service Officers (CSOs) who performed traditional private security functions that included providing site security. They also did parking enforcement. There were twenty civilian support staff and seventy five of what the department called “casual employees.” The casual employees would be called in for special events and would wear a blue uniform as opposed to the khaki uniform of the sworn officers. The department also had a support services staff for administrative activities. The sworn officers worked twelve hours a day for three days, six hours on the fourth and had the rest of the week off. This was known as a “3 12” schedule. Because a standard work week is forty hours, all officers received two hours of overtime pay each week. The fourth day was known as an overlap day and was designed to fall on Wednesday, when one team of deputies signed off and



another signed on for the rest of the week. The overlap was designed to facilitate knowledge transfer between the deputies who would otherwise not meet each other. There was a second rationale for this design. Although deputies were expected to officially work for twelve hours, they would often have to extend their hours due to incidents that occurred toward the end of their shift. As an officer explained it to me: Well, at the end of the shift, we have someone that’s in custody, you can’t simply say, oh by the way, I will get to you tomorrow. Officers might have to escort offenders to jail and therefore extend their work hours. By the third day of the work week, fatigue sets in. Hence, the fourth day is only six hours long and officers find it “refreshing,” knowing their week is going to end quickly. Like elsewhere, policing on campus requires that officers play a variety of roles. For instance, officers spent a considerable amount of their time training new recruits and less-experienced colleagues. They spent what they believed was a considerable amount of time completing paperwork. They routinely discussed events they had experienced over the course of the day, to keep each other informed. They found themselves enforcing laws and occasionally making arrests. But the activity around which they built their identity was what they called “education.”


The Rhetoric of Education
An educational stop

My story begins with a bike-stop that ironically, involved me. I was returning home from a talk on campus on my bicycle with a Bluetooth device on my ear that allowed me to operate my cell phone in a hands-free manner. As I slowed my bicycle near a stop sign, I noticed several officers on the sidewalk. Although I was slowing to a stop voluntarily, an officer rushed toward me, shouting, “Stop, stop!” He recognized me and said, “Aren’t you the one who’s studying us?” I said, “Yes.” He explained to me that he wanted to check whether I had covered both ears, which is illegal in California. Since I had only one ear covered, I was “good to go.” I made a mental note that there were several deputies on the sidewalk. The next day, I asked the sergeant leading the bike stop why there were five deputies with him doing the bike stop. He explained that they wanted to make an impact: Sergeant: My job as a supervisor is basically to lead by example. So, you know, one of the goals is bike enforcement and education. So, you know, every week, instead of having them go out on their own, we pick an area and I go out there too, and then we all as a group do enforcement like you saw yesterday night. And I think it has more of an impact because, it’s not this one isolated bike stop but it’s this group for, you know,



during a slow period for an hour, doing enforcement and education in a problem area and I think the message gets across a little bit stronger. I got another account when I spoke to a deputy who was also on the bike stop. He focused on efficiency and the need for an external motivator to compensate for an activity that was not liked: We tend to like doing bike enforcement together because you can cover more of an intersection and sometimes it’s easier to do it as a group because individually sometimes we have a harder time just kinda doing it ourselves. For a lot of us, it’s not our favorite thing to do. But, it’s easier to attack an intersection, work it. . . instead of citing one and ten going by, because you know that at night there’s a lot of people that will just. . . zip by. You know, it takes a while to cite them and check their bike and all that and so we do it as a group. It helps us a little bit better to do the enforcement and, it gets us to do it. (laughs) Group work makes it easier for the deputies to do something that they don’t like doing. It may also seem that the department is after efficiency and wishes to catch as many offenders as possible. However, apart from the organizational and work rhetoric, there is a unique thread between these two accounts, and it is the rhetoric of education. The focus on not letting offenders zip by has less to do with efficiency and more to do with the desire to send the right messages to the community. A Stanford Daily article on bike citations shows how the community reacts when offenders zip by without being caught: Freshman Matt Shin complained, “The other day, I saw my TA (teaching assistant) get pulled over for running a stop sign as I was on my way to her class. While the officer was giving her a citation, I saw a bunch of other people run that same stop sign and the officer didn’t care. It was ridiculous.”11 Stanford police views themselves as educators although their job requires them to be enforcers. This view is embedded in their culture and their actions. The same sergeant made this explicit to me: Yeah, we have community outreach and then we do enforcement and education. We don’t necessarily stop and cite everyone. We talk to people and educate them. Like I said before, we have the community outreach, the student’s academy that we do, that we put on. And our job is basically to educate people. Not necessarily to always enforce things but provide an educational safety, security, crime prevention and those types of aspects. The police chief was aware of the unpopularity of bike citations, especially amongst her officers. She pointed out in a talk on campus how bike safety was a priority for the department.
11 “Police target specific areas; cyclists claim a crackdown,” The Stanford Daily,






I can tell you that most of my guys really don’t like writing bike cite tickets. They would like to be doing something different. They would like to be catching the burglar or whatever, but bikes are a problem on this campus. I haven’t really had to order anyone but I do make it an objective to try and focus on the safety aspect. So its not, see how many bike cites you can write. We need to work on safety and education. Although the department sees itself as educators, students at the receiving end of bike stops consider this activity to be petty enforcement. When such enforcement is carried out, it often causes resentment in the student community, resulting in critical articles in the local university newspaper. The tone of such articles is captured in the excerpt below: Some students lament being cited for running stop signs on their bikes, riding unregistered bikes or for biking with their headphones. Bell reports a friend who received a $118 fine for the latter offense. “I mean, really, worse things are happening in the world than a student listening to a little music on their way to class,” said Sherie Gertler ’08.12


Public Safety, Not Police Department

In what is perhaps the most visible sign of their focus, the Stanford police department calls itself, “The Department of Public Safety.” The chief explained the rationale in a talk at Stanford: I sort of stuck with the Public Safety name in part because I think it conveys more the message of what we’re trying to convey is that we’re public safety, not law enforcement. The department views law enforcement as a tool and not the end. The chief made this clear in her talk: . . . when we hire new people I think its absolutely imperative that we create a culture. And so, we’ll bring new people in and we’ll talk about what is the philosophy of the department. And of those is that public safety is our goal. And law enforcement is just the tool to do it. The department recognizes the uniqueness of their philosophy and expects new recruits from public agencies to take some time to adjust to their culture. In particular, officers from public departments tend to be overburdened with calls for service, or “reactive work,” leaving little time for seeking out violations, or “proactive work.” Sergeant: So our job up here is to get the officer from another agency comfortable or immersed in how we do our function here, (through our) operational goals. Community
12 “Parking Tickets Frustrate Drivers,” The Stanford







outreach, bike enforcement, traffic enforcement, crime suppression and professional development. The officer that works in our department has to be comfortable and has to understand that those are very important concepts for us. Bike enforcement may not be a very important thing for someone coming from a very reactive department because they don’t have time for that. But here, that’s one of our functions, one of our priorities, one of our objectives. Because it’s such a problem out here. Officers reach out to the community in a variety of environments to provide safety education: Sergeant: Another form of police work that we have here is community outreach, educating the community, meeting the community, forming alliances and relationships because without the help of the community, crime suppression would be very difficult . We can’t be everywhere, and if we foster a good relationship with the community, they would be able to assist us in reducing the amount of crime. So that’s why community outreach is very important to the students, staff, the faculty and people that work here. It could be student groups, dorms, meeting with dorms and student groups. Organize student groups like the cycling club, it could be meeting with various establishments on campus where they serve alcohol and giving them information and tips on how to prevent underage drinking because they’re a business establishment selling alcohol. They need to be trained on how to prevent serving alcohol to someone that’s under 21 - we did that once. Community outreach has now become an important mission for the SUDPS. Some initiatives include allowing community members to ride-along with a patrol officer and attending the citizen’s academy. Sergeant: And then, ride-alongs are important where we invite students, staff or faculty to ride with the officers to get an idea of what they see from the perspective or the view of the patrol car. Those are examples of community outreach. There are lot of others. The citizen’s academy is an important facet of community outreach. . . . primarily anyone from the Stanford community could participate in our community police (citizen’s) academy and they basically for 10 weeks are given training from 6:30 to 9:30 on various facets of what we do.


Consequences of the Education Rhetoric

The education rhetoric absolves the police department from having to worry about not citing everyone. Second, it provides them with a counter to critics who argue that they are being unfair or that they should be doing something else.




Uneventful Events

An activity where education comes into play is what the department calls “special events.” These could be political dignitaries visiting the campus, sports tournaments or large parties. The department has Special Events Officers (SEOs) who are responsible for working with the community in planning the security for such events. On October 26, 2005, Stanford students organized a “Back from the Dead” Halloween party, at the Stanford Mausoleum which holds the remains of Leland Stanford, Jr. This was an event that had been cancelled or stopped in previous years due to complaints from the Palo Alto neighborhood about excessive noise and lack of funding. However, in this year, President Henessy had allocated $10,000 from his discretionary funds for the event. In order to plan the security, student organizers, a Fire Marshall, the Director of Student Activities and an SEO in plainclothes met up at the venue a few days before the event. The special events officer went about identifying hotspots, or areas that were could be dangerous due to a lack of lighting in the night. This became the basis for setting a party ground perimeter. He further clarified his concern in a conversation with the student organizers. Student1: We’re going to have student sober monitors helping out with the event. So, a sober monitor will help you if you need help. They will direct them down or take ’em down or they can alert an SEP (Special Events Patrol). Officer: If they get a person who is so drunk, its not really an issue where we’re gonna arrest em, its more, how’re we getting em over to the ER. We got transports? Student2: Yeah, we’ve got ALS (Advanced Life Support). . . He went over the property, identifying areas from where most people were likely to enter. These areas would then have entry barriers where the organizers would check the IDs of party goers to ensure they were Stanford students. The meticulous review of the security included identifying other departments that had to be notified of the event. The organizers had already come up with a plan to assist the officers in maintaining security at the event by assigning sober monitors who would wear bright glow sticks around their neck to identify themselves. Inspite of this being a “dry party” where no alcohol would be served, there could be “MIPs,” or minors in possession of alcohol. Students could also “frontload” as the officer explained to me: What students are going to do, they know there’s no alcohol being served or allowed at this event. So what they do before they get to the event is that they start drinking. I think the term’s called “front loading.” So they load up with alcohol before they get here and then, by the time they get here, they start to feel the effects. There’s a potential for hazards, there’s issues, what we try to do is be more aggressive to the pedestrians who’re walking in - if I call out one, maybe two others walking by will get rid of their alcohol, so it wouldn’t become a problem down here.



The police try to get in the way of these “front loaders” in unexpected locations. If the front loader is a minor, the officer would write an MIP citation. Front loading is a dangerous practice as people who are not regular drinkers can become unconscious due to “alcohol poisoning.” At the party, I observed two front loaders who had to be carried out by the police after having collapsed at the party. The officers initially considered arresting the two for their safety and put one student in the car. But the moment the student got inside the car, he started vomiting. Immediately, his handcuffs were removed and he was seated outside in a chair. The paramedics on call verified that this wasn’t an emergency. He then continued to vomit and mumble incoherently for over an hour. The other student was put on a chair and had identical behavior. Eventually, both were taken to the hospital as their condition did not improve. The officers requested a few community volunteers to help the students so they could be free to handle other emergencies that might come up during the party. Event planning is thus an activity where the student community learns about public safety and leverages the experience of officers who have been around for a few decades. In the words of the SEO, “a successful event (for the police department) is an uneventful one.”


An Arrest that Wasn’t

During a ride-along, I witnessed a vehicle stop that evolved into an arrest. An officer pulled over a vehicle for an illegal u-turn. The occupants of the vehicle were young kids high on marijuana. Three of them were white and one was black. When their trunk was searched, the officers found several guns. On closer examination, the guns were found to be either toy or air guns. However, there were three violations. First, they were carrying a police baton that only the police were authorized to carry. Second, they had a switchblade knife with a blade longer than two inches, which violates university law. Third, they had an air gun with the ordinance removed, which was also a violation. The gun, the baton and the knife were all in the trunk of the car, and so the owner of the car was liable for arrest since the car held the illegal property. Moreover, this kid was pulled over the previous week in another incident where his friend was involved in a fight and the arresting officer recognized him. There were three officers involved and they had a conference in the field and decided to refer the case to the District Attorney (DA) instead of making an arrest. This is because there is no jail on campus and officers need to transport violators to the Santa Clara county jail. Escorting the arrestee would take the officer off-campus for at least two hours, and this arrest was happening on a Friday night, which tends to be busy. In the words of a deputy on the scene, the totality of circumstances outweighs the particular. Like I said, we’re short staffed right now. We had lots of parties going on and the manpower would take one officer to be dedicated to book him and transport him down to the main jail on a Fri night and San Jose is pretty busy. He’d be away for a long time. The key word is the “totality of the circumstances.” So, the totality of the



circumstances needs to be weighed. What we do is, under the circumstances of the violation, I mean, right now, he’s not an immediate threat to society with the baton. He’s openly admitted how he purchased it, so he thought it was legal. So, there is a process where we go ahead and take a whole report, all the information over the report and let it go to the DA for their review and then the DA will confirm to proceed with the judicial process on that violation, or to take him downtown to county jail to book him in for that charge and the deputy will come back and complete the same report. When I asked how the officers would draw the line on when to make an arrest, the officer clarified: Let’s say, he had burglarized a vehicle and when he was stopped, he had that in his possession. See what I mean, the totality of the circumstances. The severity. It was a hot call. He was using it to ride (in), a nuisance or a liability, so we would go ahead and process and take him to jail. It’s the totality of the circumstances, immediate threat to persons and property. There is a unique dynamic in play here. The officers were not interested in making another arrest just because they could do so. They were instead interested in assessing whether the kids they were dealing with were an immediate threat to society. After all, they had been cooperative in the entire process. Once this assessment was made, the educator hat went on, and the officers explained the consequences of future bad decisions. Officer 1 has just finished reading out the crimes as per the laws of the state of California. He also recognizes the kid from a vehicle-stop the previous week when the kid’s friend was involved in a fight. Officer 1: You’ve known me right? I was the one talking back there, by the car, right? With your friend. Officer 2: Did they figure out how they got the baton? Officer 1: Yeah, they say they got it through email, what was the company? Kid: Kid is silent from this point until the end. Officer 2: It is legal if you were using it as part of a martial arts class and taking it to and from the class. This isn’t appropriate. This is only to be used for self-defense. Officer 3: There’s only one thing why that is used, ok? There’s no other reason why it’s used. And you don’t fit the need for that. That’s why it’s illegal to have. Officer 2: Your mom is saying that you guys were all wonderful (the kid’s mother arrived at the scene and spoke to the officers). I don’t get that impression. You accept



responsibility if someone is drunk and driving your car. And the other thing is you go to parties, you get kicked out, you get all pissed off at the Stanford students because they kicked you out of the party and they go after you and they start chasing you. And then you go to your car, you take your baton out and the next thing you know, somebody has a lot of stitches. That may not be your initial plan but emotions run wild, you know, drugs and alcohol, bad decision to make. Officer 3: Also, just so you know, the last time we stopped you, one of your friends got into a fight with someone, ok? Tonight, one thing led to another, and you weren’t driving, but, now we got a small history. If it continues, and your job is to deliver pizza on the campus, you keep this kind of negative context, the University is going to put together a stay-away letter for you. Officer 2: The (arresting) officer’s using some discretion with you. Officer 3: A stay-away letter will say that you are not allowed to come on campus because you’ve been involved with history to disrupt campus activity. Then what happens is you can’t deliver here anymore. When you can’t deliver here anymore, what will happen to your job? (Pause) Alright? Officer 2: Obviously, the officer is using his discretion. Technically, he can put you into jail. He has decided to have the DA review the case. On a general note, officers routinely make what they call “triage” decisions, where they let minor offenders off with a warning and preserve resources for a more serious violation. The educator hat enables officers to value the big picture differently from that of making “good pinches” and make triage decisions that affect their ability to meet the University’s security needs. The ability to triage also lets them make soft pinches.


High-Visibility Patrolling

On party weekends when the quarter is in session, officers like to make their presence felt by explicitly looking for small violations as an excuse to make contact and provide a message of safety. They call this tactic “high-visibility patrolling.” While I was riding with an officer, he explained it to me as follows: So what I’m going to be performing here is I’m going to do high-visibility patrolling. What high-visibility patrolling is for, like lets say you’re in a gang area, you’re stopping everyone and everything for anything you can. Because you want to show a presence. So lets put a twist on it. Lets say that’s an active gang area right. Lets go ahead and do. . . We have all these parties on Mayfield and Maples. We have Sigma-Chi, Sigma-Nu, the bob house and lets see what else.. All those are having parties, all drinking. So



when you have parties that involve people drinking, what do you wanna prevent from coming out of that house, on to the streets? You want to prevent DUI (Driving Under Influence), you want to prevent fights and then you want to set a presence. “Oh, you want to “barren up” because the cops are looking on the stopping, everybody, they’re out there so don’t be drinking and driving.” Because my aim is education and prevention. Applying the tactic involved turning off the lights, parking in a shaded spot while keeping the engine running. As we lay in wait, a car coming from the opposite direction made an illegal u-turn. Immediately, the officer turned on the lights, jammed his foot on the accelerator and pulled the car over at a nearby parking lot. After running the license through and finding a clean record, the officer put on his educator hat. I’ll appreciate a little bit, .. be safe out there tonight, ok? Just going to give you a warning, ok? Drive safe. Shearing and Stenning [54] point out that public police focus on “good pinches” (or arrests) while private police focus on “snowflakes” (or notices of risk to property). While the “good pinch” is hardly good for the one receiving it, the Stanford police tend to use what I have termed, “soft pinches,” when they act as educators. A “soft pinch” affects receivers and their social networks but does not leave a mark. Soft pinches are made because officers are more interested in preventing crime than citing or arresting people for minor violations.


Vocabularies of Motive

The Stanford police shape their view of themselves based on the context and the contingencies that their environment throws at them. Their motives come from background expectancies that arise from what Mills [41] calls “situated action.” Mills writes, “A motive tends to be one which is to the actor and to the other members of a situation an unquestioned answer to questions concerning social and lingual conduct.” [41, 907] Van Maanen’s [65] vocabulary of motive describes police subculture through their dependence on the stereotypical “asshole” to justify their existence. In a classic description, Van Maanen provides this account of an asshole [65, 228]: Policeman to motorist stopped for speeding: ”May I see your driver’s license, please?” Motorist: ”Why the hell are you picking on me and not somewhere else looking for some real criminals?” Policeman: ”Cause you’re an asshole, that’s why. . . but I didn’t know that until you opened your mouth.”



Van Maanen further categorizes police actions in a useful table. DOES THE PERSON KNOW WHAT HE IS DOING? YES COULD PERSON THE ACT YES A Castigate NO B Teach


Of particular interest is Cell B, which seems to hint at an education rhetoric. Van Maanen suggests that teaching is a ”prominent position in the police repertoire of possible responses.” [65, 233] Teaching techniques mostly involve threat, ridicule and harassment. More critically, ”the person in this category will remain an asshole in the eyes of the police until he has apparently learned his lesson to the satisfaction of the officers on the scene. Here a display of remorse is no doubt crucial to the police.” In the process of generalizing motives, there is a danger of concealing the situation associated with it and thereby compromising the validity of the generalization. Van Maanen’s conclusion needs to be situated in the context of a difficult neighborhood (Union City) and a public police department during a period of severe anti-war protests where the police were largely seen in a negative light. At Stanford, officers normally do not use the term “asshole” and their vocabulary of motive is quite different. They see themselves as educators and are distinctly uncomfortable when viewed as enforcers alone. The education culture of Stanford situates the police department and molds its values. This molding may be attributed to the private nature of a university-funded department with a “client-defined mandate” [54]. It may also be due to their existence in a campus environment where the public is composed mostly of educators and students oriented toward providing and receiving education. In the arrest story presented earlier (see subsection 3.5.2), the exchange exemplifies the education process in action. What makes this account even more cogent is that it involved people who were not from the Stanford community. This is a far cry from the interaction with the “asshole” that Van Maanen describes.[65] As a new vocabulary of motive is discovered, it is important to be mindful of Mills’ sage advice: What is needed is to take all these (disparate) terminologies of motive and locate them as vocabularies of motive in historic epochs and specified situations. . . . To simplify these vocabularies of motive is to destroy the legitimate use of motive in the explanation of social actions. [41]



Indeed, Van Maanen’s finding is not invalidated by my research. Rather, Van Maanen’s Union City police department study needs to be situated within its own epoch and situation. The expectancies of a police department situated on a campus are far from those of a public police department in a difficult neighborhood during a politically sensitive period. And both of them differ from the expectancies of a private department that derives their entire power from trespass law such as the Canadian police agency, Intelligarde.[49] The communities policed by both Intelligarde and the SUDPS question the work of these agencies. However, the questioning is of an altogether different nature. Intelligarde’s constituents don’t treat the agency as ”real police.” They resist arrest and challenge the authority of the officers. Intelligarde is unable to do very much when this happens because they depend on the public police to accept the arrest, which does not always happen. At Stanford, the SUDPS has the power to make arrests and the community does not usually resist the authority of the police department. However, the community does resent the focus of the department on bicycle enforcement and expresses its resentment through articles in the campus newspaper. Officers in the SUDPS try to look at the ”totality of the circumstances.” If it’s a busy night, or the offender has a clean record, they prefer to give a soft pinch which doesn’t leave a mark, instead of a ”good pinch” that does.[52] This helps confirm Shearing and Stenning’s observation [54, 501] about private police: ”.. the focus of attention shifts from discovering and blaming wrongdoers to eliminating sources of such threats in the future.” The history of the SUDPS sheds some light on where the motives come from. Of great relevance is the turmoil of the early 70’s that led the administration to realizing that they needed a department that would be sensitive to the fact they were located within a university, and yet operate independently and professionally. The involvement of Chief Herrington in the process of forming a professional department with the University officials contributed to ensuring that the department didn’t lose sight of this requirement. However, there could be other attributes that explain the motives of the SUDPS. For instance, size of the jurisdiction could have a relevance to the culture, as Chief Herrington noted about soft pinches in an interview: Even though this is not talked about, it is very common in most smaller communities. The breaking point is somewhere around 50,000. A city gets bigger than 50,000, then that becomes a different place, a different kind of policing. But, I started on a small town. You do the same thing. I had to go 40 miles to jail. If I can solve this problem without going to jail, where I’d have to be gone for two to three hours and then come back and I have to go to court the next day, I am going to solve it on the beat. Nobody told me to do that. But it was understood that if somebody had to be arrested, they had to be arrested but if there was some room to work it out.. The other advantage is - you tell that person, I know you and you know me and I’m going to see you everyday because this isn’t that big a community. So, if you do this again, then I’m going to come down on



you like a load of bricks. It’s that teaching kind of thing. I never thought of it as teaching at that time. I subsequently felt that that’s part of the Stanford student’s education, some of (which) they do through us. But I don’t think it’s restricted to universities at all. Christensen and Crank, in their ethnographic analysis of non-urban police patrol activity, observed a “highly discretionary style” which they characterized as a “holiday style” as opposed to an “aggressive style” that can be found in urban police departments.[7, 83] The word “holiday” refers to a more relaxed style where officers do not find themselves in a war with Van Maanen’s stereotypical asshole. However, “holiday” carries connotations of free time which do not fit the evidence presented by Christensen. There is a sense of belonging amongst the officers in their study, which is seen in this study as well. This sense of belonging makes the officers feel at home in the communities they police. The Stanford police see themselves as an extension of the University with the goal of educating students about public safety. Hence, a more precise characterization of policing style would be the level of personal belonging in the community that is felt by officers. A high level of personal belonging would correspond to a more relaxed style and a low level of personal belonging would correspond to a more aggressive style. A high level of personal belonging could be expected in small communities like Stanford and non-urban settings and this could be an important factor explaining the policing style. Another similarity with Christensen and Crank’s study is “deterrence” which corresponds to high-visibility patrolling. The aim is to prevent situations where the police would have to become enforcers, and thereby promote public safety from a proactive perspective. The proactive approach has been particularly pronounced in the case of private policing. Shearing and Stenning note, The fact that private security emphasizes loss prevention rather than retribution does not mean that sanctions are never employed. When they are invoked, however, they usually draw on private and corporate power, rather than state power.[54, 501] Stanford’s police department does focus on deterrence and loss prevention. However, they differ from a purely private police force in that they are deputized by Santa Clara County, and have all the public police powers as well. The private policing literature also points out the client-focus of private police. Shearing and Stenning note: Private security is most typically a form of ”policing for profit” (Spitzer and Scull, 1977:27)- that is, policing which is tailored to the profit-making objectives and its corporate clients. In those cases in which the principal objective of the clients is not the making of profit (e.g. where the client’s principal objective is to provide health services, education, or entertainment) it will be that objective which will shape and determine the mandate and activities of private security.



Stanford does share the objective of education as noted above. However, it differs from Shearing and Stenning’s persepctive in an importanty way - a client is defined as anyone the police interacts with in the course of their business, including those they arrest, as opposed to being limited to the one who pays for a service. This perspective makes them emphasize, as Herrington pointed out earlier, that even those they arrest should be treated with dignity.


Applicability of Soft Pinches

While context is always very important, there may well be contexts other than a university setting in which police at times view their role as educators instead of enforcers. For example, in one of the major flashpoints in the world, Kashmir, which has been hit by a long insurgency since the 1980s, the regional police chief has called for a reduction in military presence as the militancy is now claimed to be “outsourced” by foreign militant groups to local Kashmiris and hence can be handled by the police department. The methods of the Srinagar Police, described in a recent interview, are suggestive of soft pinches. The Srinagar Police were rattled when its investigation into a deadly grenade attack outside the Akhara building in Budshah Chowk led them to a young man running a PCO (telephone booth) nearby. The man, with no earlier militant links, had been motivated into participating in a grenade attack by a group of Jaish-e-Mohammed militants who had befriended him. Police arrested the man but released him after they were convinced this was his maiden brush with militancy and his parents promised he would never get involved in such acts again. This is a new tactic to halt militant advances in Srinagar city and police say it is working. In January, the J-K Police got to know that 39 boys from Sopore and adjoining areas were joining a militant outfit and were ready to leave for basic arms training in north Kashmir. Mir Imtiyaz Hussain, SP, Sopore, immediately contacted his superiors hoping to get a go ahead for their immediate arrest. But this time the orders were different. “No raids and no arrests,” he was told. “Call their parents, talk to them and persuade the boys not to take to the path of violence.” After two months, Hussain says recruitment by the militants has dried up in his area and parents are keeping a strict vigil on their wards, especially those in the right age group for intake into militant ranks.[28]


Understanding the Experience of Education

From the ethnography, we have learned that the SUDPS cares about education in addition to enforcement. Education is not just a tool that helps improve public safety outcomes, it is more fundamentally an identity for the police officers who see themselves as educators. Education is an integral part of the raison detre of the Stanford police department. The police believe that they



are here not just protect the Stanford community, but also educate students about respecting the law and staying safe. Education is one of the answers to the question, “Why are we here?” To valuate public safety prospects, we must consider how the prospect relates to police officer’s role as an educator. This is what the police chief does currently in an informal manner, and a formal approach at modeling value should not ignore it. The experience of the value of education occurs at the fundamental level of identity(“Why We Are Here/Who are we?”). Without putting education into the value frame, there is nothing to stop the university from overspending on public safety. With education, we have a balancing source of value that has to be traded off with public safety. We shall have more to say on this when we introduce value diagrams and try drawing a value diagram for the police chief. (See 4.5.1)


Avoiding Critical Ethnography

It must be noted that our usage of ethnographic methods to uncover embedded sources of value in organizations differs from other mainstream uses. Our goal is not so much to further social science theory, but to inform our normative modeling efforts with the intention of achieving clarity on the decision maker’s value frame. In particular, this application of ethnography differs starkly from what is referred to as a critical ethnography. Simon and Dipplo [56] point out that the underlying interest in a critical ethnography is “both pedagogical and political.” According to them, critical ethnography “is linked to our assessment of our own society as inequitably structured and dominated by a hegemonic culture that supresses a consideration and understanding of why things are the way they are and what must be done for things to be otherwise.”[56, 2] The contradiction noted in Rigakos’s work13 is manifested in these views. The Marxian frame of identifying a “hegemonic culture” reduces the rich interactions of society to a binary dimension of hegemony and non-hegemony. Although the goal in a critical ethnography is to transcend the imposition of the “hegemonic culture,” and to challenge the labels handed out to us in the status-quo, the Marxian approach falls short by requiring strong negative assumptions on the intent of society in the status quo, which are not methodologically challenged by the analysis itself. As a research method, a critical ethnography would make the researcher judgmental and introduce biases on discovering sources of value. As decision analysts, we want to understand the culture of the decision-maker in order to extract sources of value that have not been articulated. A successful ethnography in this regard is one which the inhabitants of the culture will accept as an accurate description of their own values.

13 see

the concluding part of subsection 3.2.1





In conclusion, before the ethnography, our interviews gave us the impression that officers of the SUDPS have tied their own identity with the well-being of the community they serve. After the ethnography, we’ve discovered that officers also associate education with their identity. Ethnography is a powerful research methodology that can help us get to hidden sources of value that are not articulated when asked about directly. We can use this research method to improve our understanding of the decision-maker’s value frame. Going back to our broad research focus, we have touched upon discovering and appreciating sources of value. In the next chapter, we shall introduce a new construct to Decision Analysis, the value diagram. This construct will be used to communicate the value frame. More specifically, elements of the ethnographic analysis will influence how we draw the value diagram (see 4.5.1). The value diagram will also influence our ethnographic analysis. (see 6.2)



Chapter 4

Telling Value Stories
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. Pablo Picasso

Art is never finished, only abandoned. Leonardo da Vinci

The map is not the territory. Alfred Korzybski



So far, we have looked at methods to discover and appreciate sources of value. We now come to the third aspect of clarity on value - that of communicating our value frame in a visual manner. In this chapter, we will look at existing methods of communicating value visually. We will introduce Value Diagrams, study its properties and apply it in the context of the police case study.


Introducing Value Diagrams

In the literature, the current method of visually capturing the value frame is through the use of decision diagrams.[25] 69



Figure 4.1: Communicating Value

(a) Environmentalist

(b) Hotel Operator

Figure 4.1 shows the differing value frames of an environmentalist and a hotel operator in Africa. The environmentalist cares about wildlife and values tourism insofar as it helps or harms wildlife. The hotel operator cares about tourism and believes wildlife is the main attraction that will bring tourists. We note that there is no decision in the above diagram, which focuses only on the nodes that go into the value node. Indeed, such a diagram transcends any one particular decision and is broadly applicable to a whole class of decisions for that decision-maker. Looking at such a diagram immediately reveals what the decision-maker fundamentally cares about, and what is instrumental. This is an evocative diagram, that will need to go through several iterations of clarification before it can be used for a decision analysis. We shall now try to tell the same story now with a richer notation. We’ll introduce three arrows corresponding to each of the three dimensions of value (see 2.4.1). The first one will have three bars, corresponding to values that are intrinsic, or related to our identity. It will also have the thickest tip. The second one will have two bars, corresponding to values that are prudential. The third one will have a single bar, corresponding to systemic values. All elements of a solvable decision diagram correspond to systemic nodes and hence the solvable decision diagram is a systematized form of what we shall call a value diagram (with decisions and other distinctions added in).

Figure 4.2: Communicating Value with a Value Diagram

(a) Environmentalist

(b) Hotel Operator

(c) A Third Story



Figure 4.2 (a) shows the environmentalist attaching wildlife to their own identity, while tourism is at a prudential level that may help protect wildlife. All decisions on tourism will be valued based on how it affects wildlife. Figure 4.2 (b) shows a hotel operator who, in contrast, has only prudential arrows, being in a business that is good for him. If pushed, the hotel operator might discover an underlying identity value - “well-being of myself,” but for now, we’ll let this story stick. This notation allows us to depict a third value story, that of a hotel operator who finds great joy in helping people get dream vacations and see distant lands. Such a hotel operator’s value frame is depicted in Figure 4.2 (c), where tourism is connected to her identity. This is quite a different story from 4.2 (b), who considered tourism to only be prudential. The value diagram helps us tell richer value stories about our value frame.


Constrained Value Diagrams

As the reader may have noticed, in our basic example, we did not have any systemic arrows. We shall now consider an example of systemic value in Figure 4.3. In this example, we have introduced a node called Visa Regime, which puts artificial constraints on how many tourists can come to visit Africa. Any legal restrictions like this usually need to be subjected to a clarity test, and are a good example of systemic value. Figure 4.3: A constrained Value Diagram

In general, value frames that include systemic values tend to be constrained. A system has been defined within which we have to operate, and any system is a constraint. We recognize this limitation by using the label constrained value diagram for any value diagram with systemic values in it. “Budget” would be a common systemic value that gets included. Pharmaceutical decisions might include “FDA approval” as a systemic value. We note that all of these systemic values have huge prudential implications. However, they have significantly reduced the richness of our thinking on value by using a construct. It is therefore only appropriate that we recognize this disutility with the word “constrained” before value diagram.




Canonical Value Diagrams

With the notation thus laid out, we can now start to do some interesting things with value diagrams. We’d like to use it to uncover sources of value that have not yet come into the conversation. To do so, we shall define a canonical value diagram, which does not allow arrows from prudential and systemic sources of value to go into the final value node. (See Figure ) A prudential source of value must either enter into other prudential sources of value or into an identity node. A simple way of understanding this is that an identity node is a declaration. A prudential node is an assertion. When we can’t answer why something is prudential for us, we have in all likelihood arrived at an identity node. Ultimately, a prudential source of value will draw its life force from an underlying identity node. A systemic source of value will draw its life force from an underlying prudential node. This stands to reason as systems are created after giving a lot of thought to prudential matters, and bring our world down to a manageable level. The idea behind canonical value diagrams is not to play a philosophical game by staking out absolute values. Rather, from a practical decision analytic perspective, it is to force the decision maker to think harder about underlying values, and by doing so, articulate important sources of value in the value frame that hadn’t come up earlier. Figure 4.4: A Canonical Value Diagram

At a deeper level, even after we have arrived at a canonical value diagram, we would do well to recall our discussion in 2.4), where we drew a distinction between value and valuation. In particular, the axiomatic treatment of intrinsic value objects can inspire the follow-up question, which we repeat here: “‘Will this prospect be respectful of the intrinsic worth of all the people who will be affected by it, or will it treat all or any of us as mere means to ends or goals beyond ourselves, or as mere tokens within some system or ideology.” This question is useful as it causes us to think deeper about what we choose to valuate intrinsically and helps us compare it against an axiomatic position, which we may or may not choose to accept.



For a more rigorous treatment, the table in Figure 4.5 shows the kinds of arrows that can be drawn from each dimension of value.

Figure 4.5: Canonical Value Diagram Rules

The only node that can go into the value node in a canonical diagram is the identity node, and it can do so only with the identity arrow. It cannot have arrows going into any other node. Prudential nodes can have prudential arrows to all three types of nodes, but not to the value node. Identity nodes can have a prudential aspect to it, in which case, the rules just described for prudential nodes also apply to it. While a prudential node going to an identity node or to another prudential node may be acceptable, we might question why it should be allowed to go to a systemic node. The rationale for this is that there might be a situation where a prudential source of value is important because it helps uphold a systemic source of value. This is very rare, and infact, came up only once in the scope of this dissertation.1 Systemic nodes can have arrows that go in only to prudential nodes, as the idea behind the canonical form is to push us to discover underlying sources of value. In the rare case that we have an arrow from a prudential to a systemic source of value, the systemic source must still point to a prudential source that led to its creation.


The Police Case Study

We shall now apply this newly developed visual language to the police case study by laying out the police chief’s value frame through her value diagram. We will then proceed to transform it to a canonical form, triangulate it with the results of the ethnographic analysis and finally, show an application in creating mutual understanding of value.

1 See

Figure 6.18




The Police Chief ’s Value Diagram

From our work in 2.5, we present a value diagram in Figure 4.6.2 There are two identity values harm to people and harm to officers. Both have a negative valuation on them. To make it clear (primarily because it helps the decision-maker be comfortable about clearly communicating that this is a disvalue), we shall place a negative sign on both of them.3 We find that there are two nodes that prevent this diagram from being in canonical form. First, public safety education is a prudential node, and it must have an underlying connection with identity nodes. Second, budget is a systemic node, that must have an underlying connection with prudential nodes. Figure 4.6: The Police Chief’s Initial Value Diagram

We shall start the process of transforming this into a canonical value diagram by focusing first on public safety education. Since this is a prudential node, the question “why is public safety education good?” was answered by the police chief with two prudential arrows going to each of the identity values as shown in Figure 4.7. In addition, it turned out that there was another reason that public safety education was important. It lowered the need for the police to use coercion to maintain public safety, and they’d like to use coercion as little as necessary. Coercion is another identity value for the police, to be traded off with harm to people and officers. The police would prefer to use the least coercive means necessary to ensure safety. Next, we focus on the question “why is a larger budget better?” and this was answered by adding another node called police resources that would result from a larger budget, as shown in Figure 4.8. We would also need to draw prudential arrows from police resources into the two identity values. At this point, the police chief’s value diagram is in canonical form. It is a constrained value diagram, where the decision maker’s thinking is constrained by the budget that is imposed on the decision context.
is an initial diagram, and we will build up on this shortly. general, if all the intrinsic/identity value sources are of the same sign, this may not be necessary, but in this diagram, we shall soon be including a source of a different sign, and hence the need to communicate clearly. Moreover, the value that makes some of the subjects uncomfortable was “coercion.” This was assuaged by marking it explicitly as a negative node.
3 In 2 This



Figure 4.7: Focusing on Public Safety Education

Figure 4.8: Focusing on Budget


Triangulating with Ethnography

Now that we have visually captured the results of our interviews with the police chief, we are in a position to triangulate our results with the ethnographic analysis reported in Chapter 3. In particular, we noted that education had become a part of the police department’s identity. This would imply an arrow from the public safety education node to the value node, as shown in Figure 4.9. Yet, the police chief clarified in an interview that if she were convinced that there were a better way than education to improve public safety, she’d stop focusing on education. This seemed like a contradiction with the ethnographic analysis results. On deeper reflection, it turned out that there needed to be two education nodes in the value diagram. One was the prudential educational activity that the police department engaged in. The other was the role of educators that had been acquired by virtue of the police being situated on



Figure 4.9: Public Safety Education/Awareness as an identity node

campus. This was important to represent, because Stanford, at the end of the day, is an educational institution. If there were no value placed on education, then the university would be justified spending all its resources on public safety and none on education. The education identity node is therefore essential in the police chief’s diagram, as shown in Figure 4.10.

Figure 4.10: Education as an identity node

The police chief agreed with this figure as representative of her value frame.




Resolving Values Nodes in Decision Diagrams

In Section 4.2, we noted that decision diagrams included a systematized version of our thoughts on value. By implication, a value diagram is typically not solvable, as long as it has identity and prudential values in it. In Decision Analysis, we are after clarity of action, and therefore must take some steps to move from clarity of thought to clarity of action. The two realms of thought and action can be combined by using the value diagram to unpack the value node in the decision diagram. We can use each node in the value diagram to guide our thought into what needs to be included in the decision diagram. Prudential nodes typically imply uncertainties or deterministic nodes that can be added, while intrinsic nodes would imply an intrinsic deterministic node that represents willingness-to-pay on the part of the decision-maker. The reader is referred to (see 5.2.3) for a detailed example of this resolution process.


Quick Guide

Here is a quick guide for drawing value diagrams: 1. Establish Decision Context 2. Elicit sources of value using different methods (a) Iterative Questioning (b) Axiological Questions (c) Ethnography (long-term, for richer value diagrams) 3. Use Axiological categories to lay out diagram in real time 4. Each arrow is a discussion (a) Establish enough clarity on each distinction to be able to draw the arrows (b) Some nodes may have multiple arrows (identity and prudential) 5. Triangulate (a) With published sources of value (b) With ethnographic analysis (c) With other members in the same group (d) Over time, going back to same decision maker On a related note, the reader may also refer to 5.6 for a quick guide on arriving at systemic value nodes for practical applications.




Incorporating Value Judgments with Signed Value Diagrams

An important aspect of a powerful value diagram is the ability to communicate where value lies. That might involve being able to represent the value judgment behind each node. As an extension to this work on value diagrams, we shall next incorporate a notation that allows us to derive value judgments on each node using simple arithmetic logic. We shall present this as an extension of value diagrams while noting that we are already getting into a systemic domain as we try to incorporate black-and-white value judgments based on rules through signed value diagrams. We shall do this by placing a positive or a negative sign at the tip of the prudential and identity arrows. The sign implies that “more of the source is good for the target.” Figure 4.11 shows two ways in which this can manifest. Figure 4.11: Value influences

(a) More of A leads to more (b) More of A leads to less of of B B

Figure 4.13 shows how we might trace value through each node, according to the following rules: 1. Starting Rule: The value node is required to be positive. All nodes except systemic nodes are required to have either a positive or a negative influence on their successor node. 2. Contribution Rule: The sign of a value source is determined by the arithmetic combination of the influence on its successor and the sign of its successor. 3. No Contradiction Rule: Value sources must be structured to avoid sign contradiction. 4. Leave Alone Rule: Systemic nodes are left unsigned. . Tracing Figure 4.12 (a), the identity node C is deemed to have a negative influence on the value node. As the value node is required to be positive, C ends up with a negative valuation (combinging negative influence on value node and the sign of the value node). A has a negative influence on C, and this combines with C’s negative valuation to give A a positive valuation. This makes intuitive sense. More of value A leads to less of C, and less of C is good. Therefore, more of A is good. Similarly, B has a negative valuation as its positive influence on C combines with the negative sign



Figure 4.12: Tracing Value - before applying rules

(a) Negative Intrinsic Value (b) Positive Identity Value

of C to result in a negative valuation. Again, this makes intuitive sense, as more of B leads to more of C, and more of C is bad. Therefore, more of B must be bad. The result (and the converse of this logic) can be seen in Figure 4.13 (b).

Figure 4.13: Incorporating Value Judgments into a Signed Value Diagram

(a) Negative Intrinsic Value (b) Positive Intrinsic Value

In Figure 4.14, we present two examples that make the logic clearer. We note that this notation was arrived at after several iterations. We tried playing with colors, where red represented a negative character and green represented a positive character. While a color-coded methodology has the advantage of immediately communicating what is positive and negative, the value arithmetic is not as intuitive, and the signed representation was chosen over the



Figure 4.14: An Example of a Signed Value Diagram

(a) Negative Intrinsic Value (b) Positive Intrinsic Value Example Example

colored representation.4 However, readers of this dissertation should feel free to use colors in their value diagrams if that works better for them. We note that the value arithmetic works only on canonical forms of the diagram, and that we have deliberately avoided putting value judgments on systemic nodes, as such nodes can have various degrees, some of which are positive, while others are negative. The “more of” qualifier is not necessarily applicable on such nodes. We might raise the question as to why we didn’t select a notation on the node itself, as opposed to the arrows. This is because some nodes may have an identity value while also having a prudential value. This cannot be represented visually if the notation was on the node, but it can be represented if the notation is on the arrow. Finally, we note that while signed value diagrams are a step toward more clarity, they add more complexity to the diagram. In general, we will try to keep the representation minimalist, and avoid signed value-diagrams unless they help us communicate important value relationships that would otherwise be missed.



We have introduced a new tool to the Decision Analysis cycle called value diagrams. Just as decision diagrams are a visual language to develop clarity in the decision-making body about a decision, a value diagram is a visual language to develop clarity in the decision-making body about value. In
4 There were two more reasons to avoid the use of color. First, most academic journals print in black-and-white. Second, 7 to 10% of all males on the planet (according to Wikipedia: cannot distinguish between red and green, the two natural choices for negative and positive values respectively.



the cycle of decision analysis, this is a new formulation/structuring/framing tool that draws from formal axiology. We showed a case study of how value diagrams can be used to capture the value frame of decision makers, and this is useful even when there is no decision to be made, as seen by the clarity achieved by going back and forth between the police chief and her lieutenant. A question that can be posed about value diagrams is “when do we stop adding nodes to the value diagram?” This is a question that applies equally to decision diagrams, and our answer would be no different. We’d need to go as far as is necessary to achieve clarity on the value conversation with the stakeholders in the room. In the next chapter, we will undertake a more detailed case study, narrowing our focus on bicycle safety, to show how clarity on the value frame with the axiological distinctions can make a difference in decision-making.



Chapter 5

Achieving Consistency in Valuation
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. Leonardo Da Vinci

Everything ordinarily is worth very little, zero, but put the numeral one in front and all the zeros suddenly become valuable. Forget the one and the value drops to zero immediately. Sri Ramakrishna

As we pick up the thread of public safety again, and this time, with much more depth, we find ourselves facing the norm of consistency. Decision analysis helps us be consistent with the five rules of actional thought[25]1 , once we have accepted the rules. However, decision analysis is also an amoral instrument. It could be used to make ethical or unethical decisions, in a prudential manner. Our intent is to raise the bar on consistency by incorporating that which lies at the root of who we are, that which gives life to all our prudential values and ultimately our systems. We have so far tried to capture the identity values and its relation to prudential and systemic values through value diagrams. When thought meets action in the real world, we need to cross over from the land of thought to the land of decision-making. In this chapter, we will attempt to demonstrate decision analyses that bring in to focus the identity values that give life to all our endeavors in the voluntary social decision-making space.
1 See





We will do this through four case studies in public safety that focus on bicycle safety, alcohol safety, insurance and senior-citizen safety. Along the way, we will provide guidelines for creation of value nodes. Before we begin, a brief introduction to decision diagrams is in order.


Decision Diagrams

In Chapter 4, we mentioned decision diagrams in passing when introducing the extant nomenclature on value. We shall now take a deeper look into decision diagrams. There are four kinds of nodes (see Figure 5.1) and four kinds of arrows (see Figure 5.2) that form the building blocks of decision diagrams. Decisions are about what we can do and uncertainties are about what we know. Deterministic nodes are fully determined by the inputs through functional arrows (Figure 5.2 d)). What this implies is that although the inputs to the deterministic nodes are uncertain, once they are resolved, the quantity represented by the deteministic node is completely known. We can contrast this with the relevance relation (see Figure 5.2 a)), where, even if we know how the parent node resolves itself, the child node is not known for sure. For example, if someone is known to be a cigarette smoker, we cannot be 100% sure that they will get lung cancer, although we might put a higher likelihood to such an event. Figure 5.1: Types of Nodes

(a) Decision

(b) tainty

Uncer- (c) Deterministic

(d) Value

Decisions can also influence uncertainties in some situations. For example (see Figure 5.2 b)), we may not know the time to completion of a project, but may have differing ranges of beliefs depending on the management style chosen. Informational arrows (see Figure 5.2 c)) indicate what information is completely known at the time of making a decision. For instance, at the time of exercising stock options, we know that the decision to purchase a stock option must have been completed. If the decision-maker does not own the stock option, there is nothing to be exercised. The decision maker would also fully know the stock-price movement last year before making the decision to exercise. However, if the decision-maker is considering buying the option in 2010, then she will not know how the stock will move over the year, and so, there is no informational arrow from the stock price movement node to the decision to buy the option. If we were to have another node titled “Stock price movement by end of 2011,” then there would be no informational arrows from this node to any of the decisions. However, there might be a relevance arrow between stock price movement by



end of 2010 and stock price movement by end of 2011. Figure 5.2: Types of Arrows

(a) Relevance

(b) Uncertainty

(c) Informational

(d) Functional

It is a common practice to draw decision diagrams from the value node onwards. The value node (see Figure 5.1 d) is represented as a hexagon (sometimes as a double-walled hexagon, as it is completely determined when all of its inputs are known). Decision diagrams can get complex very quickly, and it is more of an art to draw a good decision diagram that holds all the important elements in a decision situation to facilitate a decision conversation. Within the decision diagram framework, sources of value are typically denoted with functional nodes, which can be useful even if no functional transformation is performed on the inputs by providing labels that clarify the source of value. Examples of this will shortly follow in our case studies (see Figure 5.21). Finally, we recall that the evocative representation of direct and indirect values (see 4.2) has to be significantly transformed before it can be used in a decision analytic sense to provide clarity of action. It is often the case that a solvable decision diagram will not explicitly represent direct values - rather, it will imply them. A common example is that a value node may have multiple cost and revenue nodes going in, but the direct value is only one - profit. Applying our axiological distinctions, profit is a prudential value with an underlying identity value of personal well-being. In the decision diagrams that follow, we will use functional nodes when we want to systematize identity values2 , and only such nodes will be direct values, in addition to an implied direct value of profit.
2 Not

to be confused with the rule that systemic nodes cannot go into the direct value node and must go into



We note that profit will continue to be an implied direct value, but the difference in voluntary social policy decisions is that profit will be attached to an identity value other than personal well-being. For instance, in the first three case studies that follow, in the context of Stanford University, profit is attached to the value of education. More profit is good because it supports the goal of education.3


Bicycle Safety

Stanford sees anywhere between three and four thousand bicycles registered each year (see Table 5.2.1). It must be noted that the number of bikes registered per year is not the number of bikes that make their way to campus. To arrive at this number, we must consider the number of graduates and undergraduates who are on campus at any given time, as also staff and faculty who bike to campus. The number of bike racks on campus is around 3000 and each rack can hold 4 bikes, thus giving a total capacity of 12,000 bikes on campus.

Table 5.1: Bicycle Registrations on the Stanford Campus by Academic Year 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 Fall 2343 2744 1976 3134 2900 Winter 363 171 489 254 261 Spring 298 158 241 233 353 Summer 275 306 249 273 190 Total 3279 3379 2955 3894 3704

With this population of bicycles, Stanford compares well with other bike-centric university campuses in the country like UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, etc. In UC Davis, considered by many to be the bicycle capital of the United States (see Figure 8.1 - Davis has a bike festival once a year, with a designated bike month, along with bike-friendly traffic signs leading to the entry of the campus), an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 bike trips are made daily, with about 50,000 bikes existing on campus. [46] Stanford’s bike safety coordinator estimates that there might be close to 14,000 bicyclists in the year 2008-09. On injuries recorded by the police, Stanford is at the top of the pack (see Figure 5.3 a)). Even when these numbers are normalized by the number of bicyclists on campus4 (see Figure 5.3 b)),
prudential nodes - that was for value diagrams, while here, we are talking about decision diagrams 3 The big advantage of using dollars as the attribute of valuation is that value trade-offs can be brought back to the dollar space, preserving the ability to compute value of information. It also lets us report the results of the analysis in a metric that is clearly understood and easily comparable. 4 The average number of bicyclists on campus in a year was the best estimate of adminstrators from the transportation departments in each of these schools



Stanford is second from the top. The injuries reported here are from police records5 , and are probably serious enough for the police to be called in to help. There are many more bicycle accidents on Stanford’s campus where the affected parties show up for medical attention at Stanford’s Vaden Medical Center (the local clinic for student check-ups).

Figure 5.3: Number of Bike Accidents by Campus

(a) Accidents across campuses

(b) Accidents across campuses normalized by number of bikers

5 UCSC’s

numbers are from the fire department - their poice numbers are much lower



Indeed, the picture at Vaden is much starker. We find that the number of accidents can be four to six times more than those reported to the police (see Figure 5.4). Figure 5.4: Accident Reporting Comparison

To dig deeper, we looked at a total of 263 injuries and sorted them based on a severity scale of 1 to 3. A severity of 1 implied minor injury (mostly abrasions). A severity of 2 implied sutured lacerations which involved some more work on the part of Vaden. A severity of 3 was for more serious injuries, like concussions or loss of consciousness. We assumed the “Vaden per visit cost” as $150 and the “Emergency Room per visit cost” as $535. Using these numbers, we were able to plot the bubble chart below (see Figure 5.5) which shows the frequency, median cost to Vaden and severity of the injuries. Until Fall 2009, Vaden’s operating costs came from Stanford University. For the academic year 2009-10, Vaden started charging a $167 quarterly fee, which could be reviewed and adjusted at the end of the year. The bubble chart confirms our intuition - most of the injuries seen at Vaden are those of minor abrasions. These are also the cheaper injuries to treat. The stutured lacerations are fewer and more expensive. The most expensive from Vaden’s perspective are the most severe injuries. We note that the story behind the severe injuries goes deeper. Most people with severe injuries would be transferred from ER to the Trauma Center at Stanford. The Vaden dataset only shows those who did not have to go to the Trauma Center. In order to get a better picture of severe injuries, we will need to examine the data from the Trauma Center below (see Figure 5.6). This chart shows the distribution of severe injuries due to bicycle accidents. However, we note that most of the people in this dataset are not necessarily



Figure 5.5: Frequency-Severity-Median Cost

students. They could have been injured in the neighboring area and were brought to Stanford Hospital. This histogram shows us the frequency and average charge to insurance companies for each type of injury. We note that head injuries, which are considered to be the most severe in their consequences, are also the highest in frequency of severe injuries (external injuries are minor wounds that were referred to the trauma center). We also note that the average charge for treating head injuries is not necessarily the highest, although the consequences for such injuries can be tragic. This is intuitive, as there is not always a possibility of treating such injuries (neurosurgeries are rare). This is the amount of money that would typically be paid by insurance companies. Dr. Spain, head of Trauma and Critical Care at Stanford Hospital, points out in bike-safety classes held at Stanford that “the head is the only organ in our body that does not heal,” encouraging students to wear helmets. In order to obtain a finer-grained resolution into the severity of injuries seen by the trauma center, we shall break up each injury by their Abbreviated Injury Severity (AIS) scores, as shown in Figure 5.7. From this data, the average head injury charge to insurance was around $49,234 per head injury over a four year period. We have enough context now to broach the question of how to valuate a helmet promotion program that might help reduce the number of head injuries Stanford sees each year. Next, we shall attempt to capture the value frame of the Chief Financial Officer at Stanford University.



Figure 5.6: Trauma Injuries from Jan 2005 to Aug 2009

Figure 5.7: Injury severity and body part histogram - Jan 2005 to Aug 2009


The CFO’s Value Diagram

The police chief’s value diagram (see Figure 6.5) gave us clues about Stanford’s Chief Financial Officer’s value frame. We took a stab at capturing the CFO’s value frame in Figure 5.86 in the
6 This

was very similar to President Hennessy’s value diagram



context of bicycle safety decision-making. At the level of identity, the CFO has three values education, trauma to the individual and coercion of others.7 Figure 5.8: The CFO’s value diagram

When resources are expended on bicycle-safety programs, it takes away from the prosperity of the university, which is bad because it doesn’t allow the university to spend as much on education (research and teaching). To balance this disvalue, we are faced with another disvalue - the prospect of an individual undergoing serious trauma from a bicycle accident, which the university would consider simply as terrible, even if they didn’t have to spend a dime upon the occurence of this prospect. Coercion disvalue would ensue if actions of the university led to the coercion of those who inhabit Stanford. With the value diagram laid out, we now ask “How might we draw a decision diagram to be consistent with the value diagram?” There could be many ways of coming up with a decision diagram, and in the next subsection, we shall illustrate one way of creating a decision diagram that is consistent with the value diagram.


Functionalizing Value Nodes in Helmet-Safety Decision Diagram

We shall start with a simple decision diagram, as shown in Figure 5.9, where we know the costs incurred and also know how to resolve the influence arrow in the decision diagram. Our focus will
was shown to the CFO, Randy Livingston. Randy agreed with the diagram except for the coercion node, which he considered to be of prudential value. That itself is an interesting difference to communicate, given that many other decision makers on campus place coercion at the level of identity. For now, we will assume the diagram in Figure 5.8 to be representative of the CFO’s position and have more to say on this in a bit.
7 This



be on the value arrow, highlighted in the diagram, to determine how much to pay to prevent head injuries. Figure 5.9: The Helmet-Safety Decision Diagram

We shall start by unpacking the value node, as shown in Figure 5.10. We shall then proceed to systematize the resources expended node into two deterministic nodes - cost of program, resulting from the implementation of the helmet safety program, and cost of treatment resulting from the university resources needed to treat head trauma, as shown in Figure 5.11. We will consider only voluntary initiatives for now, and hence, ignore the coercion disvalue. We note that prosperity of the university is negatively impacted by spending on programs like this, especially as it takes away from the university’s primary mission of education. Since cost is already a negative value, we will subsume prosperity of university and education into cost of program and cost of treatment, as far as the decision node is concerned. For the uncertainty “Undergraduate Head Injuries,” we note that we can subsume prospertity into cost of treatment. However, we might want to represent the impact on education with an “Education Time Lost Disvalue” node, resulting in Figure 5.12.8 We will then systematize trauma to individual with trauma disvalue as shown in Figure 5.13. As a further simplification, we will assume that the education time lost disvalue is zero.9 Our decision situation can now be represented in Figure 5.14 a). If alternatives like introducing citations for not wearing helmets (from private property laws) or banning bicycles for undergraduates were on the table, then we would need to incorporate a coercion disvalue, as shown in Figure 5.14 b). For now, we shall consider a voluntary situation only, and expand on it later to model coercive alternatives. We could make this model more sophisticated by adding more distinctions that might be relevant to undergraduate head injuries. Since we are interested primarily in the valuation question, we
8 To make this more realistic, we would also want to add an uncertainty called “Education Time Lost,” emanating from “Undergraduate Head Injuries.” To keep our illustrative example simple, we shall assume “Education Time Lost” as a constant and not an uncertainty. 9 In other words, we assume that Stanford will not pay anything to prevent education time loss due to alcohol-related injuries.



Figure 5.10: Unpacking Value Node

Figure 5.11: Incorporating Resources Expended

shall stick to the diagram in Figure 5.14 a) with the knowledge that extending it should not be a problem.10
10 See




Figure 5.12: Subsuming Prosperity of University and Systematizing Education

Figure 5.13: Systematizing Trauma to Individual

Let us now zoom in on the value nodes in this diagram - these are the nodes represented by the deterministic nodes that enter the node disvalue. We note that two of them, cost of program and cost of treatment, emerged from the conversion of prudential value nodes, while trauma disvalue emerged by the direct conversion of an intrinsic value node, as shown in Figure 5.15. We have thus shown a process to include intrinsic values by functionalizing them. There are two direct values being traded - education and trauma, and our value attribute is profit or dollars, not in-and-of-itself, but pegged on top of education. The separation of prudential and intrinsic values has an important implication. We could valuate the decision situation in two ways. The first approach is to keep it purely prudential, where we are trading off cost of treatment with cost of the program. This might be the best argument if insurance companies are being approached to fund the program, as no insurance company would like to lose



Figure 5.14: Voluntary and Coercive Frames

(a) A voluntary Helmet Promotion (b) A coercive Helmet Promotion Campaign Campaign

money. If the insurance company believed that a helmet promotion program on the Stanford campus might actually make a difference in the numbers of traumatic head injuries from bicycle accidents, then we can calculate the most they should be willing to pay for such a program. This tradeoff is purely prudential, as shown in Figure 5.16 a).

Figure 5.15: Tracing the axiological values behind functional values

The second kind of tradeoff is from the perspective of Stanford and is consistent with the CFO’s value frame by incorporating the trauma disvalue. We note that trauma disvalue is not a matter of information, but a matter of willingness-to-pay. This is the amount of money that Stanford is willing to forego from its budget for education to prevent one traumatic head injury, and is represented in Figure 5.16 b).



Figure 5.16: Tradeoffs

(a) Insurance

(b) Stanford

(c) The Decision Tree

For both tradeoffs, we note that we still need to use the same tree structure as shown in Figure 5.16 c). The tree shows that if we went with the status-quo alternative (don’t implement the program), there is a 25% chance that we’d see 8 injuries, a 50% chance that we’d see 12 injuries and a 25% chance that we’d see 17 injuries next year, all of a traumatic nature and arising from bicycle accidents. This was an assessment made by a Vaden administrator who was closest to the head injury data. If we implemented the program, then we’d see a 25% chance of 4 injuries, a 50% chance of 7 injuries and a 25% chance of 12 injuries next year. These assessments came from the bike safety coordinator at Stanford who was closest to helmet safety programs, after being exposed to the status-quo scenario.11


Valuation Results

We shall first look at the results of the valuation from the perspective of insurance, assuming the insurance company to be a risk-neutral decision maker.13 By solving the tree shown in Figure 5.16 c) at just the prudential level (see 8.1.2 for full tree), we get the graph shown in Figure 5.17. There are two ways of reading this graph. First, we could start with the y-axis, which shows us the disvalue per head injury. For a purely prudential analysis, the disvalue is limited to how much an insurance
is a criticism we can make of this assessment method. If we ask people the impact of their favorite programs, they are bound to project some change. A better question to ask is the chance of success, and the change in the numbers given success. To keep this model simple, we have left it with this structure, but the case studies that follow will involve an assessment of the chance of success. 12 Both these assessments were made using K-distributions, an innovation of Tom Keelin and Brad Powley, that made it very simple to do a probabilistic assessment using a probability wheel(see [58]) and then plot the results in real time for adjustment purposes. To my surprise, subjects with little prior exposure to probability not only answered the wheel questions but also understood the distributions resulting from it in an intuitive manner. 13 By risk-neutral, we mean that if the insurance company were to face a deal with a 50-50 shot of making $1 million dollars versus losing $1 million dollars, they would be indifferent between taking such a deal or walking away. In other words, the magnitude of loss does not weigh any more than the magnitude of gain. By contrast, risk-averse people should walk away from such a deal as for them, losing $1 million is worse than gaining $1 million. They’d need to gain a lot more to be willing to take on such bets. The $1 million dollar level chosen was arbitrary - for different decision makers, the scale will vary, and we should be able to find some level at which any decision maker would be risk-averse.
11 There



company thinks they’re going to spend for an average head injury. If we stick to past data and go with $49,234, the graph can then be used to read off the most the insurance company should be willing to spend on a helmet promotion campaign that claims to be able to bring about a reduction in the number of head injuries as shown by the tree-balance graphic. In this situation, that amount turns out to be $233,800. Figure 5.17: Value to Insurance

We can also read off the graph from the x-axis, by starting with the cost of a proposed campaign. If the insurance company believes in the efficiency figures, then it can read off the graph what the implied disvalue is for each traumatic head injury, should they say “yes” to funding the campaign. Then, the question becomes one of “do we believe that traumatic head injury disvalue is at least this much?” If so, funding the program is a no-brainer. This method of resolution was documented by Judd in his thesis, where he remarks: There is almost sure to be disagreement on what society is willing to pay to avoid statistical deaths. The way to proceed when facing a particular social decision is to establish reasonable upper and lower bounds on that value. Then the sensitivity of the decision at hand to values in this range can be determined. If the best decision for society is the same when either the upper or the lower value is used, then further resolution on the willingness to pay will not improve the decision.[32] In our case, the decision maker is far more concrete than the mysterious “society;” it is the insurance company that wishes to act in its own best interests. As long as the insurance company is able to say, “oh yes, the implied minimum disvalue per injury is much lower than what we’d have to pay,” we don’t have to worry about what the exact disvalue level needs to be. The advantage of having a clear disvalue level is that it allows us to compare prospects and check if we are being



consistent with our preferences. Moving on to Stanford’s perspective as a decision maker, we are faced with the tradeoff shown in Figure 5.16 b). From a prudential perspective, the money required to deal with traumatic injuries can typically be claimed from insurance. However, if Stanford Hospital were to be made whole for its expenses, would Stanford be fine with seeing the same number of head injuries each year? According to the figure, Stanford should be willing to pay some amount of money over and above any prudential considerations, to prevent a traumatic head injury. As long as Stanford believes in the same efficiency figures, we can use the same graph to determine Stanford’s personal indifferent buying price for an intervention, as shown in Figure 5.18. The figure shows that if Stanford is willing to pay $15,000 for each traumatic head injury from bicycle accidents on campus, over and above all prudential considerations, then Stanford should be willing to pay no more than $66,200 to fund a promotion program. Figure 5.18: Value to Stanford

We now see how Stanford administrators might construct two value propositions, one for insurance companies, and one for Stanford’s board of trustees, and finance a helmet promotion campaign, creating value for all parties concerned.


Incorporating Risk-Attitude

The first question that may arise from this model is that of risk-attitude. Stanford may be assumed to be risk-averse for large losses. How will that affect our analysis? We note that for this model, the risk-neutral case gives us a lower bound on what the decision maker should pay. Figure 5.19 should make this clear - as we can see, the slope of the line has dropped, and the contact with the



red line ($49,234) is now further out, so if the insurance company were risk-averse in the range of $1 million, they should be willing to pay closer to $250,000 as opposed to $233,800 in the risk-neutral case. While this result is a consequence of the way the helmet safety model is structured, in general, there could be situations where risk-aversion can lower the valuation of an intervention. Figure 5.19: Value to Insurance - Risk Averse scenario

The next question that may arise is why our graph is linear and not a curve, especially for the risk-averse decision maker. The reason is that we have assumed an exponential risk-attitude curve, which follows the delta property[25], and gives this graph its linear shape.


More Insights

We have demonstrated in this case study how we might incorporate identity values in addition to prudential values to perform a valuation of a voluntary social policy decision. Each of the elements in this simple model is the result of a long conversation with not just decision makers, but also those who are close to the data. Insurance companies can and should challenge all the numbers in this analysis until the numbers represent their best beliefs. For a second iteration of this model, Stanford Hospital would do well to keep track of head trauma patients who’ve had a bicycle accident on the Stanford campus. While we have only shown a prudential analysis for insurance companies, the same method would apply if we wanted to calculate how much Vaden should be willing to fund a helmet promotion program. As Vaden’s average cost of treating serious head trauma isn’t much ($719), the most they should be willing to pay for the above modeled promotion campaign turns out to be $3,400. Parking and Transportation had spent ($17,800) in 2009 for their helmet promotion budget. If they were to spend the same amount in 2010 for a program like the one we’ve modeled,



then their implied minimum trauma disvalue is $3,747, or roughly $3,000 more than Vaden. We can also try to model coercion now, by incorporating a coercion disvalue into the cost of the program. Let us assume for a moment that the average charge of $49,234 was borne by Stanford and not insurance14 If Stanford were to then apply a coercive rule requiring all bicyclists to wear helmets, we could model it by asking the CFO the question, “What is the minimum endowment would Stanford need to receive in return for the introduction of this coercive program?” We could model several answers of the CFO and show how the value of the program decreases with increase in coercion, as shown in Figure 5.20. The first (blue) line represents the value of the program if there were no coercion. We note that our previous result can be found on this line by reading off the trauma disvalue at $49,234 and retrieving $233,800 from the y-axis. As the coercion disvalue increases for more coercive programs, we find that this line drops down by the amount of the coercion level. At a coercion disvalue of $250,000, a trauma disvalue of $49,234 would not justify the funding of this program, whereas it would for coercion disvalues below $200,000. Figure 5.20: Modeling Coercion



The numbers here are not the final word - they facilitate a high-quality decision conversation that is consistent with prudential and identity values of the stakeholders in this decision situation. Those who are familiar with medical decision analysis may wonder why we have not brought in the micromort approach introduced by Howard.[22] This approach is designed to capture the preferences
14 This is an assumption that is not too far off in a bad year. For instance, in 2010, a postdoc scholar from Singapore was killed in a terrible bicycle accident, and his family did not have the means to pay for medical expenses which were borne by Stanford Hospital and ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars.



of the decision maker who is facing the risk of death. If we were to create a valuation model helping students on campus find out what is the most they should be willing to pay for a helmet, the micromort model would be the model of choice. However, voluntary social policy decisions are not about the decision-maker’s preferences to their own life, rather, they are about preferences on other people’s life. We could certainly use micromorts as a measure of outcome and standardize a value per micromort for someone else’s life, just as public policy analysts would use quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) as a unit to measure outcomes, and then ascribe a dollar-value per QUALY. This dissertation does not preclude such approaches - it illustrates the steps that need to be taken prior to the selection of such instruments. In the next few case studies, we shall build upon this basic model and extend it to decision situations faced by other campus adminstrators.


Alcohol Safety

After showing the results from our bike-safety model, administrators at Vaden wanted to apply it to a problem they were grappling with, alcohol safety. Alcohol safety is a big issue on campus, especially for undergraduate freshmen, who are learning to drink responsibly. We recall from the ethnographic work that the police find students frontloading (see 3.5.1), resulting in serious consequences once they get “hit.” Stanford has been very proactive in dealing with alcohol safety, and the police have also let it be known that if someone finds their friend in need of medical attention, they can count on the police without worrying about getting arrested. The Vaden Health Center has a Director for Alcohol Education who oversees Stanford’s efforts in this regard. The decision he faced was to determine the value of an alcohol-safety online education program that was offered by a vendor, which all freshmen were required to take. Moreover, the vendor had offered access to research on alcohol safety for a fee. The director wanted to know if Vaden should buy this research module.


The Model

We started off with the same CFO value diagram as shown earlier, and then arrived at the decision diagram shown in Figure 5.21. In the first iteration of the model, the distiction success—program implemented was not incorporated. The key decision was whether to invest in an alcohol safety class or not, which would be delivered online as a module to be taken by freshmen on campus. The alcohol safety director at Stanford was considered as the decision maker for the purposes of making assessments.15 The two distincitons that an education program might affect were the number of minor alcohol
15 In reality, the director would report to the director of Vaden and the director of Risk Management at Stanford University. Regardless, the point of the method is that anyone in the decision-making body can challenge the assumptions and run what-if scenarios to get clarity on how the decision might change.



Figure 5.21: Alcohol Safety Decision Diagram

safety incidents and the number of traumatic alcohol safety incidents.16 A minor incident is defined as one where the police have to respond to a case of alcohol poisoning along with American Medical Rescue (AMR), and the student might need to be transported to the Emergency Room (ER) for treatment. A traumatic injury is when, as a result of alcohol poisoning, students injure themselves with serious consequences to their health and life, requiring several months of recovery, or perhaps even leading to death. Each of these distinctions had implications on cost and disvalue. There were two sources of disvalue at the level of identity - education and trauma to the individual. Both are represented on the decision diagram by the letters “E” and “T” respectively, and distinguished to clarify that these nodes are not a matter of information, but a matter of preference. In addition, the deterministic nodes are also annotated with the information at hand. The cost of the class was $18,000, and an
16 In a later version of the model, the traumatic injuries were modeled, not as “number of incidents,” but as one incident with a probability of occurrence which would drop with the program. For instance, without the program, there might be 1 traumatic incident in 5 years, whereas with the program, there might be 1 traumatic incident in 10 years. In the first version of the model that was used by the decision-maker, we modeled it as the number of traumatic incidents.



additional module giving access to research on alcohol safety came with a price tag of $12,000. For any minor incident, the alcohol safety director and the dean would end up spending around 6 hours. When 911 responds for such calls, typically 2 deputies and 3 firefighters might be dispatched, and the cost for an hour of their work is pegged at $440. The ER cost is taken as $535 per incident (from our bike-safety model). For traumatic injuries, the decision maker combined the PR and Litigation costs at $2 million per incident. Stanford is insured for damages above $2 million. The decision maker noted that MIT had to pay $6 million in damages in a 2008 death of a student from alcohol poisoning. [1] For trauma disvalue, we assumed $45,000 as the amount spent per traumatic injury by Stanford. For classes missed due to minor injuries, we assumed a $200 disvalue toward education (roughly the tuition for two classes), and for classes missed due to traumatic injuries, we assumed a $50,000 disvalue. The trauma disvalue figure is close to the charge we had calculated for head injuries due to bike accidents, though the difference here is that this amount is considered borne by Stanford University, and should include our thoughts on prudential value (is that the amount Stanford would have to pay on average for traumatic injuries that are not covered by insurance) and identity value (how much should we pay over the prudential level to not have this happen to anyone?). For starters, we assume that the education program has no impact on traumatic injuries, and helps us only reduce the minor injuries, from a level of 115 (25%), 63 (50%), 45 (25%) to a level of 100(25%), 56(50%), 37(25%).



With these inputs,the results are as shown in Figure 5.22. The graphs shows that the intervention program should not be bought into as it stands. However, if the decision-maker believed that the number of injuries would be definitely below 59 on account of the program, then the program should be invested in. Under these circumstances, the research module becomes valuable only if the decision-maker believes that access to it will help bring down the number of minor incidents below 51. We can now test what happens to our decision if we change one of the degrees of traumatic injuries, as shown in the subtree of Figure 5.23. We find that the program immediately becomes a no-brainer, with a value-to-cost ratio of around 57. If we leave the medium degree as it is and modify the high value to 3, implying there’s an 80% chance of 2 injuries with the program as opposed to a 50% chance of 2 and a 30% chance of 3 injuries, it still is a good idea to invest in the program, with a value-to-cost ratio of around 35. Next, we remove the trauma disvalue and education disvalue from the model, and find that the program is still a good idea, purely at the prudential level. To summarize the insight, if we believe that the education program can do anything about traumatic injuries, we should invest in it, without worrying about identity values, as it is prudential to do so. If we don’t think traumatic injuries can be reduced by the program, then the education cost becomes an important factor in the analysis. In fact, if we go back to the original scenario (where



Figure 5.22: Alcohol Safety Analysis Results - Value of Control for Minor Injuries

Figure 5.23: Number of Traumatic Injuries

traumatic injuries were not influenced by our decision), we can calculate the minimum education disvalue we need to ascribe for us to say yes to the program. From Figure 5.24, it turns out that we need to be willing to pay $646 per minor alcohol safety incident to approve the program. This number is much higher than what tuition costs per class, and one might reasonably reject the program. However, we can also probe a little deeper. Since we know that the mininmum number of minor incidents needs to be 59 or below, we can calculate the implied minimum education disvalue at 59 incidents - that turns out to be $140, which seemed reasonable to the decision-maker. We could also examine the sensitivity of our decision to education disvalue by examining Figure 5.25, which shows



Figure 5.24: Education Disvalue

that education disvalue only matters in a narrow range of minor injuries - closer to the middle, from 58 to 71. Beyond 71 injuries, it does not matter how much we are willing to pay for education disvalue, we are always better off not investing, as the current situation with its uncertainty is much better. Between 58 and 61, the number hovers around in a reasonable range ($33 to $414), before shooting up. Below 58, the minimum implied education disvalue is 0, because if we can guarantee that the number of minor injuries is below 58, it does not matter how much we are willing to pay for education - this is simply a better prudential deal.

Figure 5.25: Education Sensitivity





We point out again that the numbers and the model are illustrative of the knobs we can turn with such an approach and the resulting clarity in our value conversation. There are some questions that may be raised. Why did we choose to model the research program module as a value-of-control question and not a value-of-information question? Upon further reflection, we realize that the valuation of the research program is a better fit for value-of-control because the research program might contain information that helps Stanford run a more effective alcohol safety program. We believe we have some control over the final outcome by taking the module. The alcohol safety director used this model to present the case for continuing the education program, after which the program was funded. However, the research module was not. The benefit of this model was not about which way the decision went, but in the clarity and consistency achieved by the decision-maker on the key value-drivers, and the ability to reflect on his beliefs and see when it mattered. In the next iteration of this model to be used next year by the decision maker, we will incorporate an uncertainty on the success of the program, and transform the traumatic injury distinction from “number of traumatic injuries,” to a single traumatic injury, whose probability will vary depending on our decision to invest in the program. Instead of presenting what these changes will look like in the alcohol safety case study, we will demonstrate some of these enhancements in the next two case studies - insurance and senior-citizen safety.


Car Rental Insurance

Stanford’s department of risk management has to make insurance decisions of various kinds. One of them is about whether to self-insure car rentals, or buy accident coverage. Stanford is insured for damages above $1 million, so this decision is focused more on smaller sums of money. The decision maker was the manager of liability and employment practices17 . She was noticing that students who rented cars would often get into damages, leaving Stanford with a bill to cover.



Stanford already has a policy to not insure 15-passenger vans and big axle vehicles, so these are outside our frame. What makes this decision interesting is that during the framing exercise, we realized that there were two decisions and not one, as shown in Figure 5.26 and Figure 5.27. Stanford could require new or young drivers to take a mandatory driving education module, or reject anyone who didn’t have a California driving license. Initially, the author wondered whether this was any more than a prudential analysis, and shared the CFO’s value diagram with the decision maker. To which, the decision maker immediately agreed, and felt trauma disvalue, education and coercion
17 and

ultimately the director of risk management



were all identity values for her. Figure 5.26: Decision Hierarchy for Car Rental Insurance

Diving into the decision diagram in Figure 5.27, there are two deterministic nodes that represent identity values - trauma disvalue and coercion. The third identity node of education is implicit, and is negatively (and prudentially) affected when we spend on other things, just as in the bike-safety and alcohol-safety models. There are three direct-value tradeoffs here, and we note this pattern in the two models discussed prior to this one. At the level of information, the decision maker believes that a traumatic incident from a car accident in the rental context happens once in 15 years. The minor accidents are currently distributed as 58 (25%), 40 (50%) and 18 (25%). If Stanford buys insurance for $16 per day (and rentals are assumed to be for an average period of 5 days, leading to a cost of $80), the insurance payout for minor accidents would be 0. But if Stanford does not buy insurance, then the payout, informed by past data, would be around $1500 per incident. For major accidents, Stanford is liable for amounts upto $1 million (and the rest is covered by Stanford’s insurance), so we will assume the liability here at its upper limit. Now, our earlier statement of “Stanford buys insurance” is not entirely accurate for this decision context. Stanford’s department of risk-management would require each individual department to purchase insurance if this policy were implemented. While risk-management is not directly paying this amount as it would come out of departmental budgets, this cost needs to be factored in as a



departmental cost for a more holistic analysis, as the ultimate decision maker is Stanford University. In addition to the departmental cost, the issue of coercing the departments also arises. While for a high-up decision-maker who does not deal with the negotiations and communication of such rules, this may not be an issue, it could be an issue for decision-makers who have to make such policies work. We put it in, allowing for the decision-maker to bring it down to zero if she felt it was not a prudential issue. Figure 5.27: Decision Diagram for Car Rental Insurance

Although the number of people renting next year is an uncertainty, we decided to simplify the model by treating as a single number (594, from past data) and doing a sensitivity on it later. For now, we will assume coercion costs to be 0. We will start by assuming that the education program makes no difference. This results in the recommendation of buying the insurance, which has a value of $10,980 over the cost, and a benefit-to-cost ratio of 0.23 (assuming a departmental cost of 594 rentals x $80, or $47,520). We then test a scenario where an education program might help bring down the number of minor incidents from 58 (.25), 40 (.5), 18 (.25) to 40 (.25), 20 (.5), 12 (.25). For a 100% chance of this reduction, the recommendation switches to not getting insured, and instead spending on the education program. The big insight here is that an intervention program like education reduces the harm and therefore drops the value of insurance. Let us now drop the probability of success to 50%.



It turns out that we should not invest in the education program anymore and should just buy the insurance. However, if we believe that the probability of traumatic injuries drops from 1 in 15 years to 1 in 25 years with the help of our education program (provided it is successful), then it turns out that the education program, even at a 50% chance of success, is a good investment. To probe this further, we can do a sensitivity to the chance of success as shown in Figure 5.28 a), and we discover that the education program should be taken above a 44% chance of success, and below it, we should stick to insurance. Figure 5.28: Sensitivity to Probability of Success

(a) Sensitivity to Probability of Success

(b) Sensitivity to Probability of Traumatic Injury

We can also see how our decision changes based on the chance of traumatic injuries, as shown in Figure 5.28 b). For a 50% chance of success, as long as the chance of traumatic injury drops below 1 in 22 years, the education program is a good idea. This graph incorporates the trauma disvalue that we have assumed, at the same level as the alcohol safety model. If we increase the trauma disvalue to $1 million from the prudential level of $45,000, the trauma threshold probability drops from 1-in-22 years to 1-in-18 years. If the trama disvalue is set at 0, the threshold increases to 1-in-23 years. Therefore, the model does not seem to be very sensitive to the trauma disvalue, and that is a big insight. The main reason is that a reasonable change in the probability of traumatic injury is actually quite small, while the prudential liability issues are large enough to make the relative impact of trauma disvalue not that significant. We can do a similar analysis about coercion costs around requiring a compulsory education program, or requiring departments to pay for insurance. Figure 5.29 shows how the two identity values make a difference (shown for a 0.4 chance of success of the education program) to the decisions. This is illustrative of the kind of conversation that can be facilitated on identity values.



Figure 5.29: Sensitivity to Trauma Disvalue and Coercion Disvalue. I = “Insurance only,” E = “Education only,” IE = “Insurance+Education,” x = “neither”


Senior-Citizen Safety

Farewell to Falls is a program that helps mitigate serious fall injuries to senior citizens by visiting their homes, doing a safety assessment, making recommendations for improvement and following up to ensure they are implemented. The program needed to raise funding for the next year. We decided to model the decision diagram for the program, as shown in Figure 5.30, with the program director as the decision maker. The decision diagram is similar in structure to the insurance case study. Figure 5.31 shows the inputs used in the model. Apart from the cost of implementing the program and the cost of treating hip and head injuries, the injury disvalue is an additive function comprising of a head and hip injury disvalue. We will skip the sensitvity analyses and general results and go straight to the sensitivity to the identity values modeled, to see how they affect the decision. Figure 5.32 shows the value-cost ratio of the program with different inputs for hip and head trauma disvalue, which are willingness-to-pay amounts. For the inputs assessed in Figure 5.31, we realize that the hip and head disvalue does matter in the decision to fund the program. The costs are much smaller than we’d expect for such surgeries as these assessments are from the perspective of Stanford Hospital, which can claim some of the expenses from Medicare. This is one of the reasons that hip and head injury disvalue play a big role in this decision. One way of sweetening the deal for Stanford Hospital would be to lower the ask amount, and repeating a similar analysis for insurance companies, which can be focused on just the prudential aspect. Using a two-pronged approach, the program can approach both sources for



Figure 5.30: Farewell to Falls Decision Diagram

Figure 5.31: Inputs to the model



funding parts of the program. For instance, lowering the ask from Stanford to $80,000 produces the sensitivity results in Figure 5.32, which might be much more palatable to Stanford Hospital. Figure 5.32: Hip/Head Sensitivity

(a) Value-Cost Ratios for a program cost of $180,000

(b) Lowering the Ask From Stanford to $80,000


Quick Guide to Creating Value Nodes

From the experience of doing these four case studies, here is a quick guide for the construction of value nodes in decision diagrams. 1. Convert value diagram to canonical form 2. Identify direct values (a) Usually a proxy for identity values (b) Collapse any nodes that do not need explicit representation 3. Distinguish between prudential and identity direct values (a) Prudential direct values should have some data available, either in the form of cost or revenue (b) Identity direct values are about willingness-to-pay, and are more useful as the object of sensitivity analyses



4. Model should provide knobs to turn up the willingness-to-pay of the identity direct values 5. Identity direct value does not have to be established, in the context of a decision, as long as the implied direct value is considered acceptable



Chapter 6

Extending the Value Conversation
Who stills the water that the mud may settle? Who seeks to stop that he may travel on? Lao Tzu in Tao Te Ching, Chapter 15, Enlightenment



We have so far focused on achieving clarity on value in order to make better decisions. We shall now apply the contributions in this research to extending the value conversation, even when there is no decision in particular. In a general sense, can our tools help develop mutual understanding on value? This might have implications for organizational recruitment and training, improving effectiveness of teams and creating alignment on value. Going beyond organizations, political problems affect our personal lives and times in consequential ways, and yet, we find ourselves constantly in motion, with hardly a moment to reflect on rhetoric. What if we slow down and examine situations of conflict with great clarity, focusing on our value frames and the value frames of those we oppose? We might be able to stop talking past each other and go beyond our polarized positions in political conflicts by getting an insight into the other side’s position. While attempting to do this in the political arena is beyond the scope of this dissertation, we shall ambitiously present two short case-studies illustrating the use of value diagrams to clarify value frames in political conflicts. The first example will be that of the Tibetan conflict, where we’ll compare the value frames of the Dalai Lama and a Chinese citizen. The second example will be that of an official who held a high position in the Bush administration on the US-Iran standoff. 115



The third example will be in religion, which is often the target of politics. What if we could clearly communicate a religion’s value frame? We shall look at the world’s major religions and try to capture value frames of exponent practitioners. But first, we shall begin by examining an application in the Stanford police department.


Creating Mutual Understanding on Value

As an extension of our police case study, we decided to try using value diagrams to capture the value frames of new recruits to the police department. I facilitated a session with two lieutenants, drawing their value diagrams from their previous police department, what they thought was the value diagram in their current department from the chief’s perspective, and their personal value diagram in the current department from their own perspective. Figure 6.1 shows one lieutenant’s personal value diagram in the current department. It was interesting to note that he felt he had been hired for his focus on service, which was highly valued in the Stanford police department. However, this value had not been articulated by the police chief, although the lieutenant had probably received this impression from her. Figure 6.1: Lieutenant’s Personal Value Diagram

Figure 6.2 shows the same lieutenant’s version of the police chief’s value diagram. Althought the lieutenant considered enforcement to be of prudential value in his diagram, he felt that the police chief considered enforcement to be an identity value. He also felt that the police chief did not consider coercion to be an identity value. The police chief looked at the lieutenant’s version of her diagram, and responded by saying, “I think I know where he’s coming from.” She then explained that by enforcement, she had meant to clarify to her officers that they should treat the Stanford community the same way as they would treat someone from East Palo Alto (a neighborhood that has a reputation for having higher crime rates), and people from Stanford should not get preferential treatment. This pointed to a different value - one of equity, which had not been articulated in either of the two diagrams. She also clarified



Figure 6.2: Lieutenant’s version of the Police Chief’s Value Diagram

that she would have an identity link with coercion as it was a big disvalue for her. The result of this conversation was the modified value diagram in Figure 6.3, which I showed back to the lieutenant. Figure 6.3: Police Chief’s Response

This back-and-forth process illustrates one use of value diagrams - to obtain clarity on value across organizational hierarchies. Moreover, the chief liked the fact that service had been articulated in this diagram, and she added it to hers, along with equity. Looking back at the ethnographic analysis in Chapter 3, we find that it does not mention the service aspect. This is because of the researcher’s own bias - the data gathered did have evidence to support this value. In the notes taken during the ethnography, we find the following: We stopped in a secluded spot to get some pictures (of the lieutenant). A car was approaching from the other end and the lieutenant asked me to let the car pass. As I moved away, the car slowed down, and the driver stopped next to the officer to ask for directions. I managed to get shots of this. (See Figure6.4 a) and b)) The deputy noted that this was quite typical. People would stop an oficer pretty much anywhere



Figure 6.4: While trying to click a deputy, someone pulled over asking for help

(a) Passerby asks for help

(b) Deputy giving directions

(c) Finally managed to take the deputy’s picture

on campus to ask for directions. Sometimes, deputies would even give people a ride. We note that the ethnography has not really ended. The value diagram helped us go back and fish for more data to support a valuation. As noted in the introduction, the methods interplay with each other and are not necessarily sequential. Just like the ethnographic analysis, we note that the value diagrams are not static artifacts either. As we just mentioned above, after reviewing the value diagram of her deputies, the police chief decided to add service and equity into her diagram. (see Figure 6.5) The police chief’s value diagram has evolved over several months, and it will probably continue to evolve, although it has stayed stable for longer periods with each change, as it gets closer and closer to the her value frame. She and other decision makers can use value diagrams for internal training purposes. The reader may refer to the appendix for another deputy’s value diagram. (see 8.2.1)



Figure 6.5: The Police Chief’s Value Diagram with the deputy’s values included


The Tibetan Conflict

The Tibetan conflict has been in the public forum for several years now. Things came to a head during the Beijing Olympics, where the pro-Tibetan movement tried its utmost to bring the cause of Tibet to the forefront, which caused great embarassment and anger to the Chinese, who consider the Tibetan issue as a family affair into which the rest of the world should not meddle. While that may have been a climactic moment, the seeds of the dispute run deep. The Chinese suspect the Dalai Lama’s motives, while the Dalai Lama has progressively given up his demands for freedom, and asked for “meaningful autonomy.” The nature of the conflict is further accentuated by the fact that most Chinese citizens can only access the government’s side of the story as the internet in China, as of this writing, is censored. Regardless, overseas Chinese overwhelmingly support the Chinese Communist Party’s position. Powers recounts his own experience where he started out believing that anyone exposed to the facts would think that the Chinese were engaged in “lying, distorting and fabricating” to suppress the Tibetans, but ended up concluding that the Chinese were not lying, and that they did believe “the party line.” He writes[47, 161-162], In recent years, as a result of speaking with many Chinese, both in China and overseas, and reading a wide variety of publications by Chinese authors (both inside and outside the PRC), my inescapable conclusion is that they do sincerely believe the party line. This is true of most overseas Chinese, as well as residents of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Their commitment to its veracity is as strong as that of the Tibetans to their



own paradigm, and any problematization of it is generally viewed as dangerous, the crumbling edge of a slippery slope that leads to the destruction of the certainties that sustain the Chinese worldview and the Chinese state. The certainty with which most Chinese accept their “regime of truth” with regard to Tibet should give pause to the most passionate Tibet activist. Chinese people commonly assert that they have a valid perspective that has largely been ignored by a world that is either ignorant of the facts or deliberately misrepresents Chinese actions in Tibet. They claim that trying to present their case to pro-Tibet foreigners is like arguing with a brick wall - exactly the experience their opponents have with them. Powers notes that both sides start out with “incompatible premises” and support their claims with “selective readings” and “overreadings.” They both accuse the other side of “deliberately obfuscating, while overlooking their own obfuscations.” He makes the following sage observation:[47, 161]: . . . when two polarized sides of protestors shout at each other, their messages are primarily aimed at those who already share their imaginings, and so each faction is essentially talking to itself or shouting slogans that are ignored or rejected by the other. Thus, each each group ends up talking to itself and those who already agree with it. We are led to wonder if in all the shouting, the two sides understand where the other is coming from, knowledgable as they might be about their own positions. The following questions come to mind: 1. How well do both sides understand each other’s position? 2. How well do they understand their own position? 3. How would the two sides dialog with each other over their value frames? In an exploratory case study, we shall try to capture the value frames of each side through two subjects and explore these questions. The Tibetan subject interviewed for this exercise was Tenzin Tethong, a former representative of the Dalai Lama in New York and Washington, D.C., and former Chairman of the Kashag, the Tibetan Cabinet. Tenzin is currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University, where the interview took place. We put together three value diagrams - that of the Dalai Lama, that of the Tibetan activists, and that of the Chinese Communist Party from the eyes of the Tenzin (who considers himself a Tibetan activist).




The Dalai Lama’s Value Diagram

The Dalai Lama’s Value Diagram according to Tenzin is shown in Figure 6.6. The Dalai Lama has three core identity values that he has publicly talked about - his identity as a Tibetan, as a Buddhist and as a World Citizen. In sofar as he is able to express any of these identities, the value experienced is at the level of who he is. Economic and cultural freedom are necessary for the Tibetan identity. More cultural freedom is necessary for the Buddhist identity. The Dalai Lama believes that non-violent actions are very important to promote both economic and cultural freedoms. Figure 6.6: The Dalai Lama’s Value Diagram

In order to promote non-violent action, a non-violent mindset needs to be developed. This will also help the Tibetans in accepting Chinese rule. He believes that accepting Chinese rule is of prudential value, for it might spark Chinese compassion which would be good for both economic and cultural freedom, and more directly for the expression of the Buddhist identity. He also believes that accepting Chinese rule connects with his identity value as a world citizen, and sees no problem with that. He believes that accepting Chinese rule will help Tibetans to benefit from the strength of the Chinese. Finally, he has often called himself a “Marxist” or “socialist” monk, but his form of Marxism or Socialism is quite different from political socialism, in that, it has no room for coercion. He comes at it from a spiritual space (so perhaps we should label his brand of socialism as spiritual



socialism or ashram socialism), valuing freedom of the individual. Therefore, coercion is a disvalue at the level of his identity, and both non-violent action and Chinese compassion will lower the level of coercion in Tibet. We then drew the Tibetan activist’s value diagram, as shown in Figure 6.7. The core identity values were the same as that of the Dalai Lama, but there was a strong emphasis on political independence, which was a systemic constraint. In other words, this is a constrained value diagram which has ruled out accepting Chinese rule. Figure 6.7: The Tibetan Activist Value Diagram

We then drew the CCP’s value diagram according to Tenzin in Figure 6.8, which he considered representative of the activists. At the level of identity, the CCP cared about personal prosperity of its members and the Han Chinese identity. The Han Chinese identity allowed the CCP to ensure continuing prosperity. Preservation of their ideology was a systemic value that was prudential for both their personal prosperity and the Han Chinese identity. Therefore, this is also a constrained value diagram. Finally, I asked Tenzin how the Dalai Lama might engage with the CCP’s value diagram, without questioning the identity values, to which we came up with the value diagram in Figure 6.9. The Dalai Lama’s response would involve arguing that non-violent action was a prudential value for the CCP, which would strengthen the Han Chinese identity, and could be brought about by developing a non-violent mindset. Individual integrity and acceptance of China’s philosophical heritage were both prudential for developing personal prosperity, as the Dalai Lama includes ethical and philosophical richness in prosperity. The Dalai Lama would believe that acceptance of China’s



Figure 6.8: The CCP’s Value Diagram

Figure 6.9: The Dalai Lama’s Response

philosophical heritage would increase the individual integrity of her citizens. Through this exercise, we have captured a dialog on value with clarity that goes far beyond words. Tenzin shared some reflections on the Dalai Lama’s value diagram: (I) find it quite compelling and accurate as far as I can see, and it actually seems to reveal (in a complicated and subtle way) the real “wisdom” of the Dalai Lama. It not only makes intellectual or intelligent sense but conforms to his basic Buddhist ideas and spiritual beliefs. And how it all ties in with the Chinese perspective of things, or the



position of strength and magnanimity which they profess at times of “flourishing” also makes this a “realistic” way to see the model as a real possibility. We shall next examine value diagrams from the Chinese perspective.


The Han Chinese Value Diagram

We share some results from an interview with a subject who identified himself as a “Han Chinese.” The subject was an ethnic Han Chinese, but had grown up in Southeast Asia, and was living in the United States. First, we drew his value diagram on the Tibetan situation in China in Figure 6.10. We note that for this section, we’ve used signed value diagrams to ensure clarity of value judgment, to minimize any loss in translation, as the Chinese side is usually at the receiving end of criticism. Figure 6.10: The Han Chinese Value Diagram

In this diagram, the subject laid a great deal of emphasis on the development of Tibet, by which he meant economic develpment. He pointed out that trading was an integral part of the Han Chinese community, and they might even be considered the “Jews of Asia.” Economic development was a fundamental value at the level of their identity. The subject was against the monastic culture of Tibet, as it hampered productivity and therefore, economic development. He pointed out that in no other ethnic group are we to find 20% of the population as monks, who according to him, “were not producing.” He also felt that the monks were suppressing the local people and were preventing equality, which was an important identity value for him. The development of Tibet had both a



prudential and an identity value for him. More development would ensure more equality for Tibetans, and would allow the Chinese to maintain suzerainty over Tibet, which would help “National Sovereignty,” in that the rest of China which has several other states that are not Han-Chinese would start asking for independence if Tibet was let go. National Sovereignty was a fundamental intrinsic value, as was the welfare of all Chinese. He introduced status of all in Tibet, and by this he meant how education improves the status of a person, and he felt this had intrinsic value for him, although it isn’t clear how this value compares with equality. The last identity value (or disvalue) was violence, which he felt was bad in and of itself. While the canonical diagram helped clarify the valuations themselves, we can see how the distinction between value and valuation can help us go a little deeper. “National Sovereignty” and “Development of Tibet” might both violate the intrinsic value question, which we framed as “Will this prospect be respectful of the intrinsic worth of all the people who will be affected by it, or will it treat all or any of us as mere means to ends or goals beyond ourselves, or as mere tokens within some system or ideology.” With this warm-up, we moved on to the Chinese subject’s view of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) value diagram, which is shown in Figure 6.11. The subject noted that he was not very sympathetic to the CCP, and he represented this with the intrinsic value of “one party rules all.” The economic development mentality was an intrinsic value taken as the majority of China is Han Chinse, and this, the subject felt, was a Han Chinese cultural value. Equality for all classes is very important to the CCP. Finally, National Stability and Integrity was also very important, and violence was looked down upon as it would hamper this and economic development. Figure 6.11: The CCP’s Value Diagram according to the Han Chinese subject

Finally, we move on to the Dalai Lama’s Value Diagram as shown in Figure 6.12. The subject felt that Tibetan Independence was of paramount importance, and that the Dalai Lama saw this as an intrinsic value. He was cynical about the Dalai Lama’s intentions, and felt that the Dalai Lama



was perhaps one of the best diplomats around, in the way he has been winning people’s hearts. This is a prudential value for him as it aids the cause of Tibetan independence. Diplomacy also helps gain the moral support of the world. Supporting a western form of democracy helps with his diplomacy. The subject felt that the moral support of the world was important to the Dalai Lama for another reason - it supported the continuation of the Dalai Lama institution, which he believed was valued intrinsically by the Dalai Lama. Tibetan Buddhism was also an intrinsic value. Finally, he felt that the Dalai Lama also valued intrinsically the opportunity to return to Tibet within his lifetime. Figure 6.12: The Dalai Lama’s Value Diagram according to the Han Chinese subject

After showing the Chinese subject the value diagram drawn by the Tibetan subject (Figure 6.6), he shared the following reflections: • “Economic freedom” does not lead to “expression of Tibetan identity” • Uighurs are very entrepreneurial, but not the Tibetans (laid-back because of religion, 20% are monks). If anything, Tibetan identity hinders economic freedom. Moreover, economic development will reduce the Tibetan identity. • Disbeliever of Expression of World Citizenship. Bullshit. • (After explaining that the Dalai Lama is using “World Citizienship” as an intrinsic value to accept Chinese national sovereignty) I agree, no problem with it. • Never thought about Chinese Compassion. Very flowery, very diplomatic.



• When asked, “what if the Dalai Lama believed sincerely in this diagram,” he responded, “If this were really true, I will go along with it. Will highly respect him if this diagram is true and sincere. Like it because it does not have any oppressor bubble sitting there. No radical stuff in here.”


Facilitating a dialog

After showing the Chinese subject’s diagrams to Tenzin, he shared the following reflections over email. On the Chinese subject’s version of the Dalai Lama’s diagram: What is missing is that there is a “History” line which is part of the Dalai Lama’s makeup of his mind, Tibetan History (pre Buddhist), Tibetan Buddhist History, and the History of the Institution of the Dalai Lama. This line of pods is missing in the diagram. The Tibetans and the Dalai Lama definitely have a sense of their own history and identity very distinct from the Chinese. On the subject’s negative valuation of the monastic order: I would not agree that the monastic culture is a minus in brackets (negative valuation). Even though the CCP considers it a hindrance to development, actually the monastic education and culture promotes more peaceful and compassionate actions within society and is the basis of ethics and positive general education. (I am aware China is all about the booming development, but are they enough for the stability and long-term health of a society?) On the Chinese subject’s comments on the population of monks and Tibetan’s entrepreneurial ability: The statement “Uighurs are entrepreneurial and Tibetans are not” is not accurate. Look at the Tibetans south of the Himalayas, both refugees and early migrants over the last 3 to 4 hundred years. They are most entrepreneurial and successful. There is lots to say in this regard. About 20% monks is always one of those figures thrown out too casually, like saying that every family sends one child to the monastery. There may have been some truth or closer to the truth before 1950’s but I don’t think it holds true today because of general educational opportunities in Tibetan society both inside and outside Tibet. In fact, there might be a decline in younger Tibetans going into monasteries, and even when they do go in the drop out rate is much higher than before. On economic development reducing the Tibetan identity:



I also don’t agree that economic development will reduce Tibetan identity. Economic development or growth has not diluted Indian, Chinese or any one’s identity, and there is no basis for Tibetans to be exceptional.


The Canonical Diagram

The axiomatic position and question turned out to be useful in drawing a canonical diagram of the Han Chinese subject. The question was as follows: National sovereignty is an intrinsic value in your value diagram. Does this value respect the intrinsic worth of people? Does this value use people as a means to an end? Does this value require people to fulfill an ideology? The answer to the first two was yes, and to the last one, no. After digging deeper, the subject agreed that national sovereignty was not an intrinsic value, but a means-to-an-end. In a discussion on the underlying value, the subject explained that the Chinese word for “nation” is “Guo Jia,” which, when translated back into English, is “nation-family.” The Chinese culturally view the nation as a family, and get very apprehensive when the family is threatened or interfered with. We then agreed that “Well-being of all in the nation-family” should be the intrinsic value, and national sovereignty was a prudential value to help us get there. After some more discussion, all the other values that had been considered intrinsic earlier were now prudential values. “Chinese well-being” was subsumed into the new intrinsic value. The result is shown in Figure 6.13. As an observer, the researcher notes that when the subject discovered the intrinsic value, he immediately went silent for some seconds. When he spoke next, the researcher got the impression that he felt he was finally being understood. This assenting silence has been experienced by the researcher with other subjects as well, and might be a clue that we are touching on ground that is indeed of an intrinsic nature to the subject.



When talking to Chinese subjects, I found that they are unwilling to engage with the Tibetan subjects, for various reasons. The primary one, as revealed by the Han Chinese informant, is that the Chinese are scared to antagonize American society with a point of view that is different from the dominant narrative, for they fear intolerance. This came as a surprise to me as I’d initially thought that the Chinese were worried about their own government retaliating against their loved ones for perceived hostility to the motherland.1 In this background, the value diagrams became the
1 The subject kept trying to impress upon the researcher that the Han Chinese were doing a lot for the Tibetans. When the researcher asked whether the Han Chinese were being considered as synonymous with the communist government, the subject remarked in an email,



Figure 6.13: The Han Chinese Canonical Diagram

medium of communication, where the conversation was on value and not on the personality. Such a conversation is very difficult to hold when both sides get deeply emotional and judgmental. On matters of validity, one value diagram from a Chinese subject who grew up in Southeast Asia should not be taken to represent the general Chinese view (although it may be quite similar). In fact, that is not the intent of this research. The object of this research is to get to a point where the subject says, “You are doing a good job. This is indeed my value frame.” The researcher notes that if this were to be an unstructured conversation, it would be very hard to withhold judgment. However, the goal of wanting accuracy in the value diagrams became an invaluable tool to help withhold judgment and listen with empathy. As facilitators of difficult conversations, we might find value diagrams to be a structural tool that makes it much easier for us to move beyond our own positions and understand others. Finally, an important question may be raised - how much time do we need to draw these value
When I joined the huge crowd (only as observer)during the Olympic torch protest I saw this hatred for the CCP become hatred for Hans. I saw big burly white man carrying Tibetan flags shouting down on tiny little Chinese old lady carrying the PRC flag: “Shame on you, shame on China” etc The Israeli PM once told Dalai Lama he likens Han treatment of Tibetans with German’s teartment of Jews during the Holocaust, wow. Anyway, one cannot be Han Chinese of any origin and not get affected by the Free Tibet tidal wave that started 30 years ago. Think, the fact that so many of us DARE NOT even publicly talk and acknowledge our oppoistion to some of the Free Tibet tenants show how much terror and fear we have in our hearts and mind while living in this FREE country!! This is also an injustice.



diagrams? In this case, an hour-long session was needed for both subjects, but the diagram was continuously refined over a period of time with a lot of back-and-forth online communication. The canonical diagram with the Han-Chinese subject took another hour of face-to-face discussion.


The United States-Iran Row

The United States has been trying to deal with Iran’s interest in nuclear capabilities for some time now. With President Bush including Iran in the “axis of evil,” much attention has been given to Iran’s nuclear capability.


The “Do not talk” View

In an interview with a senior official who had served with the Bush administration, the value diagram in Figure 6.14 was drawn. The gist of this value frame is that it is very important to not legitimize incorrect actions on the parts of other governments by talking to them. Figure 6.14: Past US Administration Official on Diplomacy with Iran

We note that “democracy” has been valuated intrinsically. By applying the axiomatic position on value, we observe that democracy is a systemic value - it is a construct that has many prudential benefits. However, it is a system, designed because some other values are important. What are those values? In order to provoke the official’s thinking, we drew Figure 6.15, turning democracy into a systemic value, which had to go into prudential nodes, which ultimately would go into intrinsic or identity values. One interpretation was also offered by the author based on the interview conversation, and this interpretation is shown in Figure 6.16.



Figure 6.15: Turning democracy into a systemic value

Figure 6.16: One interpretation offered

Finally, we tried drawing the value diagram of the opposing view, those the subject called “neorealists.” Figure 6.17 a) shows this position. As we may note, the diagram is rather sparse, and initially the subject had listed “there’s no problem that cannot be resolved by talking” as the underlying intrinsic value of the prudential node “Talking. . . ,” which sounded less like value and more like information. Figure 6.17 b) was sent to the subject as an interpretation of our conversation, where the underlying value was resolution, ultimately leading to world peace. While we didn’t hear



back from this subject, we did interview someone the subject recommended who knew the neo-realist position well, who came up with a rather different diagram as shown in Figure 6.17 c). Spreading democracy had a negative valuation as neo-realists believe that it cannot be transplanted, and only leads to wasted resources, which might have been used elsewhere. This subject refused to believe that the earlier subject had drawn Figure 6.17 a), as it did not make sense (rather, it implied a deep misunderstanding).

Figure 6.17: The neo-realist position

(a) Neo-Realist position according to Bush-era official

(b) Neo-Realist position modified by researcher

(c) Neo-Realist subject



While the researcher did not hear back from the senior official (the first subject), and we must discount the fact that the official was very busy and could not allocate more than thirty minutes for the value diagram interview, one is led to wonder the implications of having a senior administration official have a deep misunderstanding about value positions that ought to be well-understood before



they are rejected. Perhaps, our tools can give decision-makers a quick way to check their understanding without having to read tomes of political analysis.2 Perhaps, value diagrams can serve as an executive summary of a political position.


World Religions

Developing mutual understanding on value in our society is a task that is worthy of attention. Among other things, we have attempted to map out the values of the major world-religions. The results are presented below.


The Ten Commandments

Both Judaism and Christianity revere the ten commandments. In figure 6.18 a), we present the value diagrams of a Rabbi and a Reverend. We note that this is not the same as presenting the value diagram of the religion, which might include other values. This is an illustrative example of how the two religions look at the ten commandments, from the perspective of two practitioners of these religions. The organge nodes show the ten commandments. After the exercise, the Rabbi (who is a Senior Associate Dean for Religious Life at Stanford) commented, “I’ve never been asked why some of these commmandments are important!” and the ensuing reflection led her to announce that she had material for her next sermon. In particular, she liked the visual representation of the fact that “don’t covet” was a central prudential value, which was about training the mind so that undesirable actions would not manifest. The rabbi noted that the Sabbath had become a very important practice in her life. She remarked, I make dinner, make or pick up a hala (sabbath bread), start with the table blessings over candles and go through each of the days. There are times when I cannot remember what I did every day of the week, and that is when I know that I’m going too fast. We do our blessing over children, blessing over wine, talk about the exodus from Egypt. This marks a path toward holiness. Blessing over bread reminds us when it was given to us by God, and that we have bread to eat and hence must develop gratitude. The Reverend’s meeting resulted in the value diagram shown in figure 6.18 b), which looked remarkably similar to the Rabbi’s diagram. The Reverend is a priest in the Episcopal Church and an Associate Dean for Religious Life at Stanford. Like the Rabbi, she found the process of thinking through her values quite challenging. After seeing the Rabbi’s diagram, the Reverend agreed with most of it and found it remarkably similar. She pointed out that the ten commandments were as important to Christianity as they were to Judaism, as Christ spoke about them. She noted,
2 See

Figure 8.5 for more value diagrams on this standoff from Subject 2 and an Iranian subject



Figure 6.18: The Ten Commandments

(a) A Rabbi’s perspective

(b) A Reverend’s perspective



Challenge in Christianity is too often, we overlook or move beyond the Hebew scriptures. Emphasis is on the Christian testament and Christian scriptures. I dont necessarily see that as a good thing. She emphasized the value of the ten commandments as follows: Sometimes christianity can be too individually focused. Seeing the ten commandments in the whole, especially the last 6, says something about the importance of the fact that we dont want to be alienated from others, therefore building and sustaining communities means that all of those commandments need to be kept in their whole. She did agree that the ten commandments would be much more central for Jews than for Christians and that her view might not be shared by everyone. She liked and agreed with the Rabbi’s characterization of “power” and “money” as the “false Gods” in our society. Holiness in the Rabbi’s diagram corresponded to reverence in the Reverend’s diagram. When asked whether she was surprised about all the similarities, she noted: Doesnt surprise me that the diagrams are so similar. Ive often joked with the Rabbi about how much I love and respect Judaism, probably because in the end it speaks to many of the values either I hold or want to ground my life in. Its not something that I see as so vastly different either that I cant learn from or embrace. It doesnt necessarily negate the fact that there are distinctive parts of our religious traditions that are unique, but underneath all of them are the same common values reverence for God, reverence for others, sense of sacred and holy are found in all of them. Very very common ground upon which we stand.


The Five Pillars of Islam

Figure 6.19 a) shows the perspective of a Muslim subject on the five pillars of Islam and how important they were in the religion. Figure 6.19 b) shows the subject’s own value diagram, and we note the that the subject treats the first pillar as most important. We cannot help notice the similarity with the rabbi’s value diagram, although in that case, the realization of the first commandment was an intrinsic value. We might wonder why there are no systemic arrows in this diagram. It is because the subject framed the five pillars not as specific rules but as life-principles. During the drawing of this diagram, the subject remarked that he was forced to think of his own faith in such detail for the first time. While we were drawing the diagrams, the subject pointed out that many of the nodes in the diagram had no English equivalent, and hence requested that the Arabic word be retained for referential purposes.



Figure 6.19: The Five Pillars of Islam

(a) Muslim Subject’s perspective on the Five Pillars

(b) Muslim Subject’s perspective on his own values



Figure 6.20 a) shows the basic value diagram of a monk from the Vedanta tradition (the philosophical side of Hinduism). By holistic clarity, the monk noted that this was about “seeing things as they are from the highest plane possible; including the entire universe into my horizon, into my sense of I.” Purity was about “developing one-pointedness of purpose; purifying our resolve to bring the clarity into our daily life.” The intrinsic value was the hardest to articulate, and this is perhaps true of all the religious value diagrams drawn so far. For lack of a better term, after much discussion, we decided to go with “living in unity,” to denote the bringing of holistic clarity to daily life. From this point on, Vedanta shows maps for four different kinds of religions, each highlighting a different aspect: action (b), intellect (c), love (d) and psychic control (d). If Vedantists were to look at the other world traditions, they might be able to start classifying them as one of the four yogas. For instance, Christianity with its emphasis on love might look like



Figure 6.20: Vedanta

(a) Foundational Value (b) Karma Yoga: Unity through Self- (c) Gyana Yoga: Unity through IntelDiagram less Service lect

(d) Gyana Yoga: Unity through Love (e) Gyana Yoga: Unity through Psychic Control

Bhakti Yoga to a Vedantist. Islam and Judaism with their strong emphasis on selfless service might look like Karma Yoga to a Vedantist.



A discussion on the values of major world religions would be incomplete without some attention on the atheists. The researcher interviewed an atheist subject who also considered himself to be an environmentalist. In the course of the discussion, we came up with the value diagram shown in Figure 6.21 a). Logic was a big prudential value for the atheist, and it took a while for us to uncover some of the underlying intrinsic values. The subject was fairly critical of religions, and so, he was asked which religion he knew most. He pointed out Judaism, and we tried to draw his perspective of the values of a Jewish practitioner, which resulted in Figure 6.21 b), in a single intrinsic value “piety.” The researcher checked several times if there might be a deeper source of value for a Jewish practitioner, but the subject was sure that this would be it. The researcher then showed the Rabbi’s value diagram (see 6.18) to the subject. Reflecting on the diagram, the subject remarked that he had some objections. When asked which nodes he objected to, he pointed out “Don’t Covet,” which he felt was in tension with capitalism. This led to a discovery of some of his own values, and resulted



in a modified value diagram, as shown in Figure 6.21 c). The subject felt that capitalism was good for innovation, and innovation was important for the well-being of society, of which he was a part. Coveting was necessary in order to sustain the capitalist system. The Rabbi, on the other hand, saw coveting as more subtle than coveting other’s property, which if not checked, might lead us astray. The subject liked “don’t bear false witness” and this might be due to his intrinsic valuation on truth. He felt that this systemic value was remarkable and stood out, while other good values like “don’t steal” and “don’t murder” were also present in other societies. He did not like the injunction on “don’t commit adultery.” Finally, upon seeing the value diagrams of other traditions, he liked the values in “Gyana Yoga” (Figure 6.20), and commented, “I support these values although it is not exactly the way I think of things.” Figure 6.21: An Atheist’s Value Diagrams

(a) Initial Value Diagram of Atheist Subject

(b) A Jewish Value Diagram Atheist Subject

Practitioner’s according to

(c) Atheist Subject’s Revised Value Diagram





With these maps, we might be able to take inter-faith dialog to the next level, by helping practitioners to discover, appreciate and communicate the sources of value in their traditions and also appreciate the values of other traditions. The level of noise between practitioners of different religions or sects who take antagonistic positions is not all that different from the Tibet-China conflict or the US-Iran standoff. Powers’ sage observation that people in conflicts are usually talking to themselves and those that agree with them is a worrying one. This observation should motivate us to go beyond our stated positions and truly attempt to comprehend those with whom we disagree. Having said that, the similarities in the religious value diagrams stand in sharp contrast to the differences noted in the political value diagrams, underscoring perhaps that the world religions can find a unity in their core values, although the words used to describe them may be different. In light of this common thread of unity, Swami Vivekananda’s 1893 speech at the first recorded interfaith gathering, the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago[66], comes to mind: If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. The idea of unity between religions is by no means an exclusive discovery of this researcher, as it has been proclaimed by leaders like Vivekananda and many others. This work is a small contribution toward bringing the world together by discovering, appreciating and communicating the ground on which we stand.



Chapter 7

This dissertation has used multi-disciplinary methods to help achieve clarity on value. Clarity has been unpacked into three aspects - discovery, appreciation and communication. Each of these has been a separate contribution. The method of ethnographic analysis can be used to aid discovery of value sources embedded in a culture. The axiological distinctions from formal axiology can be used to aid the appreciation of value. Finally, value diagrams can be used to tell value stories as a precursor to decision-making.


Standardization of Analysis

In the Decision Analysis literature, Matheson and Howard make the following observation: Decision analysis procedures will become standardized so as to yield special forms of analyses for the various types of decisions, such as marketing strategy, new product introduction, and research expenditures. This standardization will require special computer programs, terminology, and specialization of concepts for each kind of application.[39] This call for standardization is pertinent in the field of voluntary social policy decisions which have not received as much attention in the literature as business and public policy decisions. From our limited work on the case studies, some patterns have emerged, that might aid standardization. In particular, the emergent insights from the ethnography helped us quickly create value diagrams that were acceptable to most departments on campus. While a template for the university’s departments might be applicabile to other universities that share the same value frame, the method of ethnography might itself be a pattern of initial value discovery that helps us uncover important sources of value embedded in culture in a class of organizations. While the investment required in an ethnography is not trivial, we can leverage the rich sociological literature on non-profit organizations in different fields to understand the value frame. 141




Patterns in Identity Values

As a big focus of this dissertation is on identity values, one might ask if there are patterns that emerge in identity values across organizations. It is impossible for us to predict the value diagrams of individuals without knowing the social contexts that they inhabit. Van Maanen[37] summarizes the work of Herbert Mead and others expertly when he points out that self-conception emerges through interactions with others in a context. Therefore, we need to study shared contexts in order to discover identity values within such contexts. Organizational and professional culture are two powerful distinctions that can help guide our exploration in this regard. Having said this, we do find some patterns from the work in this dissertation in the context of voluntary social service organizations. First, there would typically be a core identity value around a positive ethic (education in the case of Stanford) that replaces the well-being of the self that underlies the prudential value of profits. In a philosophical sense, service is considered beneficial to the self in such organizations, and hence, at a fundamental level, there isn’t really a contradiction with the notion of well-being of the self. Second, the other set of identity values found in this dissertation have to do with people/life. That should not be surprising, given that the motivation of Hartman when he came up with the hierarchy was his experiences in Nazi Germany, and a deep rooted desire to prevent an ethical miscalculation like that again, by setting people and life as a source of identity value.


Application in the For-profit World

In this dissertation, we have primarily focused on voluntary social policy problems, and in the previous chapter, extended it to problems that touch on public policy. The discerning reader may ask, are these tools applicable to businesses? The quote of Pallotta bears repeating: The fallacy is that the for-profit sector does not help people. If we shut down the global oil conglomerates tomorrow, we would soon find a world in need of a great deal more help than it is in need of today. . . . If not for the for-profit electric companies, we could not power any of our charities. . . . Helping people is what the for-profit sector does. . . . The for-profit sector simply doesn’t regard the presence of self-interest as being at odds with meeting need. Indeed, it regards the two as essentially connected.[45, 36] In our times, Google is an example of a company that has declared its goal as “organizing the world’s information.” There is no mention of profit here - it would seem that this is an identity goal for Google, and many of their actions defy short-term profit thinking. The Google Books project is one example, where even after protracted legislation, Google is determined to get the world’s books digitized and available to the common public. One of Google’s famously stated values is “do no evil.” Google found it difficult to reconcile their decision to stay on in China after Gmail accounts of human rights activists were hacked, ostensibly by Chinese hackers who might have had



the backing of the Chinese government. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Google’s decision to pull out their search operations and move them to Hong Kong without censoring their results has created a shock in the business community. It is clear that this pullout will come at a big prudential price. While some analysts have been second-guessing Google by projecting prudential considerations where Google believed it would never be able to beat their number one competitor Baidu, most analysts and the US State Department have taken notice and believe it is more than a prudential consideration to take such a big step.

While some may argue that Google is the exception, not the norm, and others may second-guess Google’s business motives, it is highly presumptuous for anyone to make a claim that businesses care only about making money. There is a rich literature in descriptive strategy that has developed over decades which has not just documented the culture of value creation, but has also advocated such a culture.

The tools of business in the mainstream may be currently limited to a single direct-value - profit, but it is only a matter of time before such tools evolve to incorporate more sources of value, for which an organization may be willing to trade-off its profit.

We shall conclude our discussion of the for-profit sector with a concrete example from the venturecapital (VC) world. In the context of early-stage startup funding, the author spoke to two venture capitalists, and shared the axiological questions and found that they were a great fit for funding decisions unders consideration. At the systemic level, venture capitalists have rules that are fairly black-and-white, like, “does the CEO have experience in the industry?,” “Is the technology in a hot area?,” “Will I look stupid if I invest in this?,” etc., to quickly narrow down ventures that they’d like to evaluate. Once the list has been narrowed, a great deal of consideration is given to prudential matters - will the VC be better off financially by backing this venture? The prudential considerations drive systemic models that help the VC analyze the situation, and finally, the VC comes to the point where they have to make a decision. At this point, VCs may still kill the deal if they find that they are unable to trust with the people who are in the venture. This could be a systemic rule that is inspired by an identity value around truthfulness, and prudential disvalue that arise from working with people who do not tell us the truth. On another level, the VCs may not fund a deal, no matter how lucrative, if the venture deals with something that violates an identity value, for instance, weapons or tobacco for some VCs. Other VCs might be willing to fund ventures that fit their identity values, even if it may not be all that prudential - for instance, investing in solar energy at lower returns because the planet needs renewable energy sources. One of the VC subjects compared this line of thinking to having three judges in his head, whom he could consult at different levels of value.




Criticism of Contingent Valuation

Behavioral economists have much to say on the question of “willingness-to-pay,” a frame that we rely on heavily to systematize identity values, which they dub as “contingent valuation.” Kahneman and Knetsch write:[33] The idea of (contingent valuation) is quite simple: respondents are asked to indicate their value for a public good, usually by specifying the maximum amount they would be willing to pay to obtain or to retain it. The total value of the good is estimated by multiplying the average willingness-to-pay (WTP) observed in the sample by the number of households in the relevant population. This value is sometimes divided into use-value and non-use value by comparing the WTP of respondents who expect to enjoy the public good personally (e.g., benefit from improved visibility or from the increased number of fish in a cleaned up stream) to the WTP of respondents who have no such expectations. Specific questions are sometimes added to partition non-use value further into the value of retaining an option for future use, a bequest value, and a pure existence value. Sen further adds:[51] Contingent valuation is indeed best seen as an extension of market valuation through “willingness to pay” for things that are not bought and sold in the market - the price that would be maximally paid by a person for the value of the object in question (comprising existence-value plus use-value, if any). Kahneman and Knetsch go on to present a study [33] which demonstrates two problems. The first is that “the same good elicits a higher WTP if it is first in the list rather than valued after others.” Since the order in which the questions were asked was arbitrary, the authors question the validity of the responses. The second is the problem of an “embedding bias,” where goods that were posed as subparts of a larger good were valued lower. Harrison has presented a rebuttal on this [20] questioning the methodology, and Carson [6] presents a nice review of the different positions. While Kahneman and Knetsch’s work is much cited by others like Sen to criticize contingent valuation, we must note how this dissertation and the general application of willingness-to-pay can be useful in the field of decision-making. First, in the study presented by Kahneman and Knetsch, no one was making a decision with their own money. The subjects were answering hypothetical questions. In all our case studies, the decision maker was involved in thinking about how they’d spend their own resources. Second, the questions were meant to inform regulatory policies, where it is unclear what the costs and benefits are and more fundamentally, who the decision makers are. For reasons pointed out in the introduction, application of decision analysis in public policy that is so common nowadays under the name “cost-benefit analysis” has serious philosophical problems,



which have been rightly criticized by the behavioral economists. In the domain of voluntary social policy decisions, the clarity on who the decision maker is, and on the frame of the problem with an emphasis on decision-making bypass the philosophical issues that the critique captures. Finally, from a methodological perspective, by attempting to capture the value frame of the decision-making body with multiple methods and triangulating, we are on a very different ground than asking questions embedded within questions to random subjects who may or may not have a stake in the problem. Kahneman and Knetsch’s study suffers from the rigidity of experimental research methods, where subjects needed to be asked the same kind of questions. Since our bent is decidedly sociological, no two interviews were the same. Every client had a different value-frame and the attempt was to find a custom-fit on value for clients over a period of time, giving them several opportunities to clarify their own value-thinking.



The question of validity is interesting in more ways than one. Public policy researchers may ask why we should use these methods, when they might draw the decision diagrams for our case studies in the same way without going through value diagrams. Such a question would miss the goal of this research, as pointed out in Section 1.1.5. Public policy approaches are strongly tied to a notion of social good. Equity and efficiency are usually the guiding values in such analyses, which are shared by the research community, and they may be challenged when a researcher with a different set of values feels the community should be looking at other aspects. In this dissertation, the goal was to help individual decision-makers discover their value frame, so that they may be consistent with it. Some of the values uncovered are quite unique to the culture or to the individual, and taking a strong frame of equity and efficiency may miss out on other values that are important to the decision-maker. As an example, from the case studies presented, we note that we have shown some examples where coercion has been modeled as a cost. This researcher has not found any papers in the public policy domain where coercion has been modeled as a cost. A more subtle question may arise if we were to model the Stanford decisions from scratch without drawing the value diagram of Stanford University’s President, would we come up with the same decision diagrams? Is this a sign of hindsight bias, or would we really model the problem in the same way? We wonder if it is possible to determine this, for even if we were to send a group of public policy researchers not exposed to value diagrams, and another who group well-versed in it, to the same decision-maker, it would be hard for whoever goes first not to influence the other’s model by clarifying the decision-maker’s values in their conversation. On the ethnographic method as a contribution, two questions may be raised. First, why is the ethnographic method better than other methods? Second, how good was our ethnography? Third,



how much of an investment should we make into an ethnography when helping clients make better decisions? To the first question, the ethnographic method is very important to establish that the congruency (or lack, thereof) between what the decision-maker says and what the decision-maker does. We can interview our clients all we want, but when we are immersed in the context of the client and observe their world with their eyes, we start to get a deeper sense of what they value, and from our outsider’s perspective, we start to notice not just incongruencies, but also values that they did not know to articulate. To the second question, we note that from a sociologist’s yardstick, a couple dozen hours of fieldwork won’t cut it. The biggest criticism that may be levelled is that the police may have given me a story that they wanted me to believe in. While this criticism is valid, we note that we have a methdological advantage over the sociologists that allows us to get away with a much shorter amount of fieldwork. The advantage is that our interest lies in making normatively good decisions. While spending more time with in the client’s environment would certainly help us observe and learn more, we might still be able to use the value rhetoric and have a decision conversation with the decision-makers to verify that they do intend to be consistent with their rhetoric. The point at which we can stop the fieldwork is more of an art than a science. This also answers the third question.


Future Work

Upon observing the value diagrams that people draw of their own value frames, and those of others, we are led to wonder if people simplify other people’s value frames while treating their own frames with much more sophistication. Using value diagrams as an instrument, this question may be the object of inquiry for those interested in the psychological or sociological dimension. Building on this, sociologists might be interested in investigating how value frames change as an individual jumps organizations. How do the value diagrams for the same person change (or stay the same) across these jumps? The value diagram may become a useful instrument for the sociologist to capture and summarize frames and build theory. From a strategy perspective, a leading question would be on how people might collaborate and negotiate to arrive at value alignment. This would connect with Eisenhardt’s work referenced in Chapter 1, and investigate how visualization tools like the value diagram might greatly help achieve mutual understanding on value. From a decision analytic perspective, we have noted that drawing value diagrams can be an art, and there is no science for knowing when to stop adding to them. For those who are interested in strengthening the framing tools of decision analysis, shedding some light into the guidelines for drawing value diagrams beyond this introductory work might be an object of inquiry. More specifically, in the examples discussed in Chapter 5, the intrinsic sources of value were



modeled through an additive value function. The most that this dissertation can claim toward formalizing a function is that the value diagram helps us check that the intrinsic sources of value are incorporated in our final value function in some way. In that sense, we have formalized the functionalization of intrinsic sources of value. When it gets to the details, we note that our case studies involved an additive implementation of the function. If the number of traumatic injuries in a public-safety decision grow exponentially, there might be a point where Stanford will not consider an additive disvalue, and perhaps get into a multiplicative realm or use step-functions. How should we continue the value conversation that we’ve started to help us systematize the relationships between functional values? What questions can we ask to determine the functional form? This topic as an object of inquiry is too vast to have been handled in this dissertation, and might serve as a research problem for another dissertation. Building off this question, what about the value diagram can clue us in on the value function? Can we try to represent the nature of the value function in the value diagram? Before going too far down this track, it would be good to point out that these are systemic questions, and introducing systemic conventions to value diagrams has to be done with great caution, as we pointed out with signed value diagrams, for they limit the richness of the value discussion. Perhaps, there can be intermediate diagrams which represent systematized value relationships, and help decision analysts model and communicate value fundctions, but such diagrams should be labeled separately from value diagrams to avoid confusion, and to maintain our holistic intent.


Multi-attribute analysis

Those who are familiar with multi-attribute utility theory might wonder how this work ties in with that body of research. Value diagrams are a lead-in to the trade-off conversation on the attributes of value. The trade-off conversation is a far more general conversation than a choice between single and multi-attribute approaches. Both schools (the multi-attribute and the Stanford school which prefers the single attribute approach) will need to go through this conversation. The Stanford school would characterize the tradeoffs through indifference value curves, while the multi-attribute school would call it indifference utility curves. The difference is that in the Stanford school, at least one of the attributes must be a dollar measure, and this allows us to easily model risk-aversion by converting any set of attributes to the dollar space.



Chapter 8


Achieving Consistency in Valuation
UC Davis

Figure 8.1 shows some photographs on the bike culture at Davis.


Helmet Safety Tree

The tree used to do the helmet safety calculations is shown in Figure 8.2.


Assessing Helmet Usage

Bicycle safety coordinators on the Stanford campus believe that undergraduates do not like wearing helmets. Some data collection done by the author (with the help of Andrew Bellay, Moonhee Hur and Divya Sarasan) in 2009 supports this view (see Table 8.1). The researchers stood at various graduate and undergraduate locations and took readings, using a specially designed counting tool on cell phones and laptops. In particular, one reading was taken at two ends of Escondido road (see Figure 8.3). Graduates were assumed to pass by point 1 (as most graduate residences are to the right of point 1), and undergraduates and graduates both pass by point 2. By subtracting the two, we were able to get a more reliable estimate of the number of undergraduates biking to campus.

Table 8.1: Summary % of Graduates wearing helmets % of Undergraduates wearing helmets

Helmet Usage by students Ranges from Reliable Estimate 20.34 to 29.3 22.9 3.95 to 14.04 8.97




Figure 8.1: Davis’ Bike Culture

(a) UC Davis Bike Festival, 2009

(b) UC Davis Bike Festival, 2009

(c) UC Davis Special Bike Signal

(d) UC Davis Special Bike Signal Turning Green

Figure 8.2: Helmet Safety Tree



Figure 8.3: Helmet Data Collection Experiment


Extant Research on Bike Safety

Safety in Numbers In a landmark study that looks at bicycling in 68 California cities, 47 Danish towns and European countries in general, Jacobsen [27] reports an inverse relationship between amount of biking and walking and injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists from motor vehicles. He argues that bicyclists are not likely to change their behavior much, but motorists tend to be more cautious when there are many pedestrians and bicyclists, thus reducing the likelihood of accidents. There is a “safety in numbers,” which is contrary to the intuition that more bicyclists and pedestrians might lead to more accidents with motor vehicles.

Helmet Usage A study on helmet protection effects that looked at patients with trauma injuries in several hospitals [62] shows that bicycle helments “provide substantial protection against head injuries for cyclists of all ages.” The researchers report: Helmet use is associated with a reduction in the risk of any head injury by 69%, brain injury by 65%, and severe brain injuries by 74%.


Extending the Value Conversation
Police Case Study

Continuing from Section 6.2, Figure 8.4 shows another lieutenant’s value diagram.


US-Iran Standoff



Figure 8.4: Second Lieutenant’s Value Diagrams

(a) Previous Police Department’s Value Diagram (Chief) according to Lieutenant

(b) Stanford Police Chief’s Value Diagram according to Lieutenant



Figure 8.5: Subject 2’s value diagram on US-Iran Standoff

(a) Subject 2’s value diagram on US-Iran Standoff

(b) Iranian Citizen’s personal value diagram on Iranian politics

(c) Iranian Citizen’s version of Iranian Govt value dia- (d) Iranian Citizen’s version of US Govt value diagram gram



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