Hughes, Helen, Robinson, Mark, Crowder, Richard and Sim, Yee Wai
More than the sum of its parts: An agent-based model of team work.
At The 14th European Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology, Santiago de Compostela, Spain,
13 - 16 May 2009.
Studies have consistently shown that team behaviours differ from the sum of their parts, additionally reflecting complex interactions between team members and their environments. Computer simulation using agent-based modeling (ABM) explores how ‘micro’ behaviours affect ‘macro’ processes, and should therefore help elucidate such team behaviour. In ABM, behaviours are determined by bottom-up ‘rules’, enabling us to study how the individual parts affect the whole. Furthermore, time elapses during simulations, so relationships between variables feed back into each other, affecting the outputs. Such models therefore permit the incorporation of random elements which, when combined with this dynamism, enable unpredictable, realistic behaviours to emerge. Seemingly complex animal ‘team’ behaviours, such as foraging, have been simulated successfully, but the simulation of human behaviour and cognition remains in its infancy. Our research addresses this omission by using ABM to simulate team working processes within two large engineering organisations. The project seeks to integrate expertise in organisational psychology, engineering and computer science, to develop this capability and better understand organisations.
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