Goal Programming: Introduction

According to the classical economic theory, profit maximization is one of the most widely accepted goal of management. However, in today's dynamic business environment, there is no single universal objective for all organizations. Organizational objectives vary according to the characteristics, types, environmental conditions, etc. of the organization.

Various goals may be expressed in different units of measurement such as rupees, hours, tons, etc. Often multiple goals of management are in conflict or are achievable only at the expense of other goals. Consequently, one of the most important and difficult problem is to achieve an equilibrium between these conflicting objectives.

"It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly." - Mabel Newcomber

What is Goal Programming?

Goal programming is a powerful technique that is capable of handling multiple decision criteria. In other words, goal programming is a powerful tool to tackle multiple and incompatible goals of an enterprise.

Linear Programming vs Goal Programming

Unquestionably, linear programming models are among the most commercially successful applications of operations research. But, one of the limitations of linear programming is that its objective function is unidimensional, i.e., the decision maker strives for a single objective, such as profit maximization or cost minimization. To the contrary, in goal programming, the objective function contains primarily the deviational variables that represent each goal or sub-goal.

Another limitation of LP is that the management must accurately quantify the relationship of the variables in cardinal values (numbers that express exact values such as 1, 3, 4.5, etc.). But, when the goals are incommensurable, then these goals cannot be assigned cardinal values. These two shortcomings can be overcome by using the goal programming technique.

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