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Optimal information transmission in organizations: Search and congestion

Author

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  • Àlex Arenas
  • Antonio Cabrales
  • Albert Díaz-Guilera
  • Roger Guimerà
  • Fernando Vega

Abstract

We propose a stylized model of a problem-solving organization whose internal communication structure is given by a fixed network. Problems arrive randomly anywhere in this network and must find their way to their respective “specialized solvers” by relying on local information alone. The organization handles multiple problems simultaneously. For this reason, the process may be subject to congestion. We provide a characterization of the threshold of collapse of the network and of the stock of foating problems (or average delay) that prevails below that threshold. We build upon this characterization to address a design problem: the determination of what kind of network architecture optimizes performance for any given problem arrival rate. We conclude that, for low arrival rates, the optimal network is very polarized (i.e. star-like or “centralized”), whereas it is largely homogenous (or “decentralized”) for high arrival rates. We also show that, if an auxiliary assumption holds, the transition between these two opposite structures is sharp and they are the only ones to ever qualify as optimal.

Suggested Citation

  • Àlex Arenas & Antonio Cabrales & Albert Díaz-Guilera & Roger Guimerà & Fernando Vega, 2003. "Optimal information transmission in organizations: Search and congestion," Economics Working Papers 698, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:698
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael D. König & Claudio J. Tessone & Yves Zenou, 2010. "From Assortative To Dissortative Networks: The Role Of Capacity Constraints," Advances in Complex Systems (ACS), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 13(04), pages 483-499.
    2. , & , M. & ,, 2013. "Hierarchical cheap talk," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 8(1), January.
    3. Antoni Rubí-Barceló, 2012. "Core/periphery scientific collaboration networks among very similar researchers," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 72(4), pages 463-483, April.
    4. , D. & Tessone, Claudio J. & ,, 2014. "Nestedness in networks: A theoretical model and some applications," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(3), September.
    5. Nils Roehl, 2013. "Two-Stage Allocation Rules," Working Papers Dissertations 01, Paderborn University, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics.
    6. Antoni Rubí-Barceló, 2008. "Scientific collaboration networks: how little differences can matter a lot," DEA Working Papers 30, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Departament d'Economía Aplicada.
    7. Marschak, Thomas, 2006. "Organization Structure," MPRA Paper 81518, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. M. Koenig & Claudio J. Tessone & Yves Zenou, "undated". "A Dynamic Model of Network Formation with Strategic Interactions," Working Papers CCSS-09-006, ETH Zurich, Chair of Systems Design.
    9. Benjamin Golub & R. McAfee, 2011. "Firms, queues, and coffee breaks: a flow model of corporate activity with delays," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 15(1), pages 59-89, March.
    10. Mario Maggioni & Teodora Uberti & Mario Nosvelli, 2014. "Does intentional mean hierarchical? Knowledge flows and innovative performance of European regions," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 53(2), pages 453-485, September.
    11. Nils Roehl, 2013. "Two-Stage Allocation Rules," Working Papers CIE 73, Paderborn University, CIE Center for International Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Networks; information transmission; search; organization design;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production

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