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Agent-Based Models of Organizations

In: Handbook of Computational Economics

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  • Chang, Myong-Hun
  • Harrington, Joseph Jr.

Abstract

The agent-based approach views an organization as a collection of agents, interacting with one another in their pursuit of assigned tasks. The performance of an organization in this framework is determined by the formal and informal structures of interactions among agents, which define the lines of communication, allocation of information processing tasks, distribution of decision-making authorities, and the provision of incentives. This chapter provides a synthesis of various agent-based models of organizations and surveys some of the new insights that are being delivered. The ultimate goal is to introduce the agent-based approach to economists in a methodological manner and provide a broader and less idiosyncratic perspective to those who are already engaging in this line of work. The chapter is organized around the set of research questions that are common to this literature: (1) What are the determinants of organizational behavior and performance? (2) How does organizational structure influence performance? (3) How do the skills and traits of agents matter and how do they interact with structure? (4) How do the characteristics of the environment--including its stability, complexity, and competitiveness--influence the appropriate allocation of authority and information? (5) How is the behavior and performance influenced when an organization is coevolving with other organizations from which it can learn? (6) Can an organization evolve its way to a better structure?

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This chapter was published in:

  • Leigh Tesfatsion & Kenneth L. Judd (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of Computational Economics," Handbook of Computational Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 2, number 2, 00.
    This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Computational Economics with number 2-26.

    Handle: RePEc:eee:hecchp:2-26

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

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    References

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    1. Stephen J. DeCanio & Catherine Dibble & Keyvan Amir-Atefi, 2000. "The Importance of Organizational Structure for the Adoption of Innovations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(10), pages 1285-1299, October.
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    3. Myong-Hun Chang & Joseph Harrington, 2000. "Centralization vs. Decentralization in a Multi-Unit Organization: A Computational Model of a Retail Chain as a Multi-Agent Adaptive System," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0860, Econometric Society.
    4. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
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    6. Brenner, Thomas, 2006. "Agent Learning Representation: Advice on Modelling Economic Learning," Handbook of Computational Economics, in: Leigh Tesfatsion & Kenneth L. Judd (ed.), Handbook of Computational Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 18, pages 895-947 Elsevier.
    7. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Scholarly Articles 4554125, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    8. Holmstrom, Bengt R. & Tirole, Jean, 1989. "The theory of the firm," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-133 Elsevier.
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    10. Robert Axtell, 1999. "The Emergence of Firms in a Population of Agents," Working Papers 99-03-019, Santa Fe Institute.
    11. Myong-Hun Chang & Joseph E Harrington, 2000. "Organization of Innovation in a Multi-Unit Firm: Coordinating Adaptive Search on Multiple Rugged Landscapes," Economics Working Paper Archive 442, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    12. MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K. & Wellman, Michael P., 2006. "Automated Markets and Trading Agents," Handbook of Computational Economics, in: Leigh Tesfatsion & Kenneth L. Judd (ed.), Handbook of Computational Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 28, pages 1381-1431 Elsevier.
    13. Barr, Jason & Saraceno, Francesco, 2002. "A computational theory of the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 345-361, November.
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    16. Qian, Yingyi, 1994. "Incentives and Loss of Control in an Optimal Hierarchy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 527-44, July.
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    18. Janssen, Marco A. & Ostrom, Elinor, 2006. "Governing Social-Ecological Systems," Handbook of Computational Economics, in: Leigh Tesfatsion & Kenneth L. Judd (ed.), Handbook of Computational Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 30, pages 1465-1509 Elsevier.
    19. Wouter Dessein, 2002. "Authority and Communication in Organizations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 811-838.
    20. Vriend, Nicolaas J., 2006. "ACE Models of Endogenous Interactions," Handbook of Computational Economics, in: Leigh Tesfatsion & Kenneth L. Judd (ed.), Handbook of Computational Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 21, pages 1047-1079 Elsevier.
    21. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1998. "The Social Selection of Flexible and Rigid Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 63-82, March.
    22. Jan W. Rivkin & Nicolaj Siggelkow, 2003. "Balancing Search and Stability: Interdependencies Among Elements of Organizational Design," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(3), pages 290-311, March.
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    27. Eric Maskin & Yingyi Qian & Chenggang Xu, 1999. "Incentives, Information, and Organizational Form," Working Papers 99009, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    28. Harrington, Joseph Jr. & Chang, Myong-Hun, 2005. "Co-evolution of firms and consumers and the implications for market dominance," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 245-276, January.
    29. Van Zandt, Timothy, 1999. "Real-Time Decentralized Information Processing as a Model of Organizations with Boundedly Rational Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(3), pages 633-58, July.
    30. Myong-Hun Chang & Joseph E. Harrington, Jr, 2003. "Multimarket Competition, Consumer Search, and the Organizational Structure of Multiunit Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(4), pages 541-552, April.
    31. Joseph E. Harrington & Jr., 1999. "Rigidity of Social Systems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 40-64, February.
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    Cited by:
    1. Kočišová, J. & Horváth, D. & Brutovský, B., 2009. "The efficiency of individual optimization in the conditions of competitive growth," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 388(17), pages 3585-3592.
    2. Borrill, Paul L. & Tesfatsion, Leigh, 2010. "Agent-Based Modeling: The Right Mathematics for the Social Sciences?," Staff General Research Papers 31674, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    3. Jason Barr & Francesco Saraceno, 2004. "Organization, Learning and Cooperation," Computational Economics 0402001, EconWPA.
    4. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/6782 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Concetta Sorropago, 2012. "Incentive Design and Manager Performances: an ABM Approach," Working papers 008, Department of Economics and Statistics (Dipartimento di Scienze Economico-Sociali e Matematico-Statistiche), University of Torino.
    6. Jason Barr & Francesco Saraceno, 2005. "Cournot Competition and Endogenous Firm Size," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2005-001, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
    7. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/9832 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Jason Barr & Francesco Saraceno, 2005. "Modeling the Firm as an Artificial Neural Network," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2005-011, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
    9. repec:tur:wpapnw:8 is not listed on IDEAS

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