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Commentary On Conjoint Projection

This survey method can play an important role in the the design of policies and programs for employees.  It has been used to design new employee benefits programs, compensation programs, sales incentive programs, and company policies.  The reason it works so well in those applications is because it has a future focus. 

Most employee survey methods tend to look backward.  They are based on attitudes that come from past experience.  That perspective is not very useable in the design of new employee programs, particularly if they have new features that are unfamiliar to the employee population.  Traditional employee surveys are referred to as self-reporting approaches.  In contrast, Conjoint Projection surveys are referred to as self-revelation approaches.  What that suggests is that the typical respondent to this type of survey, when confronted with new ideas or concepts, finds out what they value at the same time they are reporting their preferences through the survey.

The Example

On the previous page there is an example of a Conjoint Projection matrix.  It is taken from a real survey I did for one of my clients.  In this matrix there are two "attributes"; Tuition Assistance and Retirement Income.  Each of these attributes has four "levels"  In a typical survey there can be as many as 16 attributes and from 3 to 5 levels in each attribute.  The survey is constructed so that each attribute appears at least three times.  Each time it appears it is paired with another different attribute.  Those pairings are determined by a carefully constructed pairings network. 

The participant that completed the matrix in the example was asked to rank order his/her preferences by putting the number "1" in the cell that represents the best of both attributes.  Once that choice is made, the respondent must "trade off" one attribute to maximize the other.  In the example he/she was willing to give up his/her first choice in Tuition Assistance to retain the current Retirement plan by putting the number "2" in another cell that represents the next preferred choice.  This process continues until all "16" cells have been ranked.

When the survey is analyzed, each attribute has a calculated number on a scale of 100 that indicates exactly how strong the preference for that particular design choice is.  The analysis further groups those specific actions the company might take that would be seen as "positive" by the employee population; those actions that would be seen as "negative":  and those actions to which the employee population would be "indifferent".  Time after time my clients had been prepared to spend  a lot of money and effort on changes that employees would see as negative or be indifferent to before they did a Conjoint Projection survey.