A Formal Framework for Organization Modeling and Analysis

A Formal Framework for Organization Modeling and Analysis

Viara Popova (De Montfort University, UK) and Alexei Sharpanskykh (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-256-5.ch006
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This chapter introduces a formal framework for modeling and analysis of organizations. It allows representing and reasoning about all important aspects of artificial and human organizations structured in a number of views, including performance-oriented, process-oriented, and power- and interactionrelated aspects. The framework provides means to model formal (pre)defined organizational structures and dynamics, informal relations, and behavior of organizational actors. The meaning attached to the modeling concepts is specified based on the literature from Social Science. Unlike many existing organization modeling approaches, the proposed framework has formal foundations based on the order-sorted predicate logic which enables different types of analysis of organizational specifications of particular views and across views. The framework allows scalability of modeling and analysis of complex organizations, by considering them at different aggregation levels. Furthermore, the framework provides support for real- time management of organizational processes. The framework was applied in several case studies, one of which is discussed here.
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The modern world is unthinkable without organizations. The rapid scientific, societal and technological development of the last centuries, coupled with the changed environmental conditions gave rise to a great diversity of organizational forms and types of interaction between them. The structural and behavioral complexity of organizations is interdependent on the complexity of the environment, in which these organizations are situated. The complex, dynamically changing environment with insufficient resources often creates challenging obstacles for the satisfaction of the primary goals of any organization – to survive and prosper. To be successful, an organization should effectively and efficiently organize its internal structure and activities so that the fit with the environment is achieved. In reality these requirements are difficult to fulfill, since no universally applicable recipes exist that ensure the successfulness of an organization at all times and all cases. Therefore, most modern organizations suffer from various performance inefficiencies and inconsistencies that may have consequences for the organizational vitality. Often only a small number of these flaws can easily be identified, but can be revealed using more profound analysis methods.

Many of the techniques for analysis of organizational performance developed in organization theory are informal and imprecise, which undermines the feasibility and rigor of the analysis. For more precise evaluation of the organizational performance, for identification of performance bottlenecks and conflicts, detailed organizational analysis based on a formal organization model should be performed. Furthermore, a formal organization model constitutes a basis for many automated processes within enterprises (e.g., computer integrated manufacturing) and provides a foundation for inter-enterprise cooperation.

To enable formal analysis, this Chapter introduces a formal modeling framework that allows representing diverse aspects of organizational reality, within several perspectives, e.g. the process-related, performance-related and organization-related perspectives. Since individuals often exert significant influence on the organizational dynamics, also aspects related to human behavior are considered explicitly. The characteristics of the framework include:

  • it allows the representation and analysis of organization models at different levels of abstraction in order to handle complexity and increase scalability;

  • it enables formal verification and validation of models of different perspectives on organizations;

  • it enables simulation for experimenting and testing hypotheses on the organizational behavior under different circumstances;

  • it proposes computational analysis methods across multiple perspectives on organizations;

  • it supports and controls the execution of organizational scenarios and the evaluation of organizational performance.

The framework proposes a wide spectrum of means for modeling and analysis of structures and dynamics of organizations of different types including mechanistic organizations that represent systems of hierarchically linked job positions with clear responsibilities and organic organizations characterized by highly dynamic, constantly changing, structure with non-linear behavior. Although the structure and behavioral rules for organic organizations can hardly be identified and formalized, by performing agent-based simulations with changing characteristics of proactive agents, useful insights into the functioning of such organizations can be gained. Furthermore, the framework supports reuse of parts of models.

The chapter is organized as follows. First the related literature is presented. Then the formal foundations of the framework are described. After that the case study used for illustration is introduced. An overview of the four modeling views is given. It is then discussed how the framework can be used in practice. Finally, the methods for organizational analysis are described. The Chapter ends with conclusions and future research directions.


This Section provides a general overview of organization modeling and analysis approaches and techniques developed in three areas: organization theory, enterprise information systems and organization-oriented multi-agent systems.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Formal Organizational Modeling: Organizational modeling using formal methods.

Formal Organizational Analysis: Organizational analysis using formal methods.

Constraints: An expression over objects and/or processes that limits the organizational behavior.

Process-Oriented Modeling: Modeling of organizational flows of control, resources.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Liz Sonenberg
Virginia Dignum
Virginia Dignum
Chapter 1
Virgina Dignum
Agent Organization can be understood from two perspectives: organization as a process and organization as an entity. That is, organization is... Sample PDF
The Role of Organization in Agent Systems
Chapter 2
Luciano R. Coutinho, Jaime S. Sichman, Olivier Boissier
In this chapter, we discuss the concepts of agent organization, organizational model, and review some existing organizational models. Before the... Sample PDF
Modelling Dimensions for Agent Organizations
Chapter 3
Jacques Ferber, Tiberiu Stratulat, John Tranier
In this chapter, we stress the importance of thinking a MAS in all its aspects (agents, environment, interactions, organizations, and institutions)... Sample PDF
Towards an Integral Approach of Organizations in Multi-Agent Systems
Chapter 4
Scott A. DeLoach
This chapter introduces a suite of technologies for building complex, adaptive systems. It is based in the multi-agent systems paradigm and uses the... Sample PDF
OMACS: A Framework for Adaptive, Complex Systems
Chapter 5
Christopher Cheong, Michael Winikoff
Although intelligent agents individually exhibit a number of characteristics, including social ability, flexibility, and robustness, which make them... Sample PDF
Hermes: Designing Flexible and Robust Agent Interactions
Chapter 6
Viara Popova, Alexei Sharpanskykh
This chapter introduces a formal framework for modeling and analysis of organizations. It allows representing and reasoning about all important... Sample PDF
A Formal Framework for Organization Modeling and Analysis
Chapter 7
Maksim Tsvetovat
Agent-based approaches provide an invaluable tool for building decentralized, distributed architectures and tying together sets of disparate... Sample PDF
Describing Agent Societies: A Declarative Semantics
Chapter 8
Davide Grossi, Frank Dignum
In this chapter we investigate how organizations can be represented as graphs endowed with formal semantics. We distinguish different dimensions of... Sample PDF
Structural Aspects of Organizations
Chapter 9
Virgina Dignum, Frank Dignum
Organization concepts and models are increasingly being adopted for the design and specification of multi-agent systems. Agent organizations can be... Sample PDF
A Logic for Agent Organizations
Chapter 10
Cristiano Castelfranchi
This chapter presents organizations as a macro-micro notion and device; they presuppose autonomous proactive entities (agents) playing the... Sample PDF
Grounding Organizations in the Minds of the Agents
Chapter 11
Paolo Torroni, Pinar Yolum, Munindar P. Singh, Marco Alberti, Federico Chesani, Marco Gavanelli, Evelina Lamma, Paola Mello
Organizational models often rely on two assumptions: openness and heterogeneity. This is, for instance, the case with organizations consisting of... Sample PDF
Modelling Interactions via Commitments and Expectations
Chapter 12
Gita Sukthankar, Katia Sycara, Joseph A. Giampapa, Christopher Burnett
This chapter discusses the problem of agent aiding of ad-hoc, decentralized human teams so as to improve team performance on time-stressed group... Sample PDF
Communications for Agent-Based Human Team Support
Chapter 13
Bob van der Vecht, Frank Dignum, John-Jules Ch. Meyer
This chapter discusses how autonomous agents can adopt organizational rules into their reasoning process. Agents in an organization need to... Sample PDF
Autonomous Agents Adopting Organizational Rules
Chapter 14
Nicoletta Fornara, Marco Colombetti
The specification of open interaction systems is widely recognized to be a crucial issue, which involves the problem of finding a standard way of... Sample PDF
Specifying Artificial Institutions in the Event Calculus
Chapter 15
Francesco Viganò, Marco Colombetti
Institutions have been proposed to explicitly represent norms in open multi-agent systems, where agents may not follow them and which therefore... Sample PDF
Verifying Organizations Regulated by Institutions
Chapter 16
Mehdi Dastani, Nick A.M. Tinnemeier, John-Jules Ch. Meyer
Multi-agent systems are viewed as consisting of individual agents whose behaviors are regulated by an organizational artifact. This chapter presents... Sample PDF
A Programming Language for Normative Multi-Agent Systems
Chapter 17
Antônio Carlos da Rocha Costa, Graçaliz Pereira Dimuro
This chapter presents the Population-Organization model, a formal tool for studying the organization of open multi-agent systems and its functional... Sample PDF
A Minimal Dynamical MAS Organization Model
Chapter 18
Shaheen Fatima, Michael Wooldridge
This chapter presents an adaptive organizational policy for multi-agent systems called TRACE. TRACE allows a collection of multi-agent organizations... Sample PDF
A Framework for Dynamic Agent Organizations
Chapter 19
Alexander Artikis, Dimosthenis Kaponis, Jeremy Pitt
We have been developing a framework for executable specification of norm-governed multi-agent systems. In this framework, specification is a... Sample PDF
Dynamic Specifications for Norm-Governed Systems
Chapter 20
Marco Lamieri, Diana Mangalagiu
In this chapter we present a model of organization aimed to understand the effect of formal and informal structures on the organization’s... Sample PDF
Interactions Between Formal and Informal Organizational Networks
Chapter 21
Steven Okamoto, Katia Sycara, Paul Scerri
Intelligent software personal assistants are an active research area with the potential to revolutionize the way that human organizations operate... Sample PDF
Personal Assistants for Human Organizations
Chapter 22
Sachin Kamboj, Keith S. Decker
This chapter presents an approach to organizational-self design (OSD), a method of designing organizations at run-time in which the agents are... Sample PDF
Organizational Self-Design in Worth-Oriented Domains
Chapter 23
Olivier Bonnet-Torrès, Catherine Tessier
This chapter focuses on a Petri Net-based model for team organization and monitoring. The applications considered are missions performed by several... Sample PDF
A Formal Petri Net Based Model for Team Monitoring
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