Using Simulation to Study, Design and Invent Organizations
Keywords:simulation, agent-based, organization design, research methods
Over the past 50 years, computational modeling and simulation have had enormous impact on the advancement of knowledge in fields such as physics, chemistry, and subsequently, biology. After simulation models had been validated in these fields, they were rapidly adopted as powerful new tools to enhance and extend engineering practice. Might social science and management practice be following a similar trajectory? This article argues that progressively validated, calibrated, and refined computational simulation models of organizations are rapidly evolving into: (a) powerful new kinds of organizational analysis tools to support organization design by predicting the performance of specific organizational configurations for a given task and environment; (b) flexible new kinds of organizational theorem provers for validating extant organization theory and developing new theory; and (c) organizational test benches that can be used to explore the efficacy of hypothetical organizational configurations that can address the unprecedented demands of new and emerging work processes in the presence of high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity.
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