Grounding Organizations in the Minds of the Agents

Grounding Organizations in the Minds of the Agents

Cristiano Castelfranchi (ISTC-CNR, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-256-5.ch010
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Abstract

This chapter presents organizations as a macro-micro notion and device; they presuppose autonomous proactive entities (agents) playing the organizational roles. Agents may have their own powers, goals, relationships (of dependence, trust, etc.). This opens important issues to be discussed: Does cooperation require mentally shared plans? Which is the relationship between individual powers and role powers; personal dependencies and role dependencies; personal goals and assigned goals; personal beliefs and what we have to assume when playing our role; individual actions and organizational actions? What about possible conflicts, deviations, power abuse, given the agents’ autonomy? MultiAgentSystems discipline should both aim at scientifically modeling human organizations, and at designing effective artificial organizations. Our claim is that for both those aims, one should model a high (risky) degree of flexibility, exploiting autonomy and pro-activity, intelligence and decentralized knowledge of roleplayers, allowing for functional violations of requests and even of rules.
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Introduction

The main thesis of this chapter is that organization is a notion, a model, and a technical device that presupposes individual agents1; it is a way of exploiting and improving the co-powers2 of agents, producing efficient cooperative results. Organizations have to be funded and grounded in the powers of the agents and in particular on and into their minds (knowledge, goals, reasoning, choice, etc.).

In fact, “Organization” is organization of something: precisely of the activities of sub-units, able to get and process information, to act in a coordinated manner, to co-operate, and to do this with some local – decentralized – autonomy, and adaptation to the context. In particular, ‘organizations’ are coordination structures for cooperation among several agents, in view of iterated and typical problems or problem-solving activities. Any ‘organization’ entails some Multi-Agent (MA) plan, and the agents have to work (case by case) within some common plan.

Some level of autonomy and of purposiveness of the component units is presupposed: the active entities able to play a role within the organization and its plans, must be able to perform actions in view of specific results, that is, to pursue and locally monitor goals (their ‘tasks’), and must have some degree of ‘autonomy’ for adapting the action to its context and for solving problems.

‘Autonomy’ is a relational notion: X is autonomous from somebody else (Y) and as for something (O) (Castelfranchi, 1995a). Autonomous means that X doesn’t depends on Y as for (having/realizing) O; does not need Y for this. X can have or realize O by itself. An active entity can be autonomous on various dimensions and for various “resources” or “activities”: for example, for accessing information and data, for learning, for reasoning, for decision making, for abilities and skills, or for external material resources (money, a car, etc.). One might be autonomous as for a given O but not for another one. For example, X may be autonomous as for deciding but not as for the needed data, because she is blind; or, X may have the practical resources for doing action A, but not being able to do it, and she needs the help of Y for this.

“Agents” - as defined in MAS - are autonomous entities (“Autonomous Agents & MAS”): there is not a fully centralized processing; they have local independent information and results, and, sometimes, independent learning or reasoning; they have some pro-activity (Wooldridge and Jennings, 1995); they are regulated by internal representations (sometimes strictly ‘purposive’ ones, like in BDI Agents). The most qualifying and advanced form of autonomy obviously is autonomy in goals: when an agent has its own independent motives, and will pursue our objectives only if there is some reason and advantage for doing so.

In sum, for us, the “sociological” and “institutional” level of processing and activity must be funded on the basic notion of agents activity: action, decision, belief, plan, etc. and in particular on the individual social action. It is a typical mistake to try to found collective levels per se’ or directly on individual agent theory ignoring sociality at the interpersonal level as the very basis of sociality at the collective level (Tuomela, 1995; Castelfranchi, 2003c). So, for example, there are typical and fundamental aspects to be modeled in organization, like ‘dependence’, or ‘coordination’, or ‘delegation’ and ‘reliance’, like ‘goal-adoption’ or help, that are already present at the interpersonal level and must be defined first of all at that level (see in this chapter Section on ‘Socio-Cognitive Organization Pillars’).

Given this premise and perspective several important issues should be taken into account in organization theory and design.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Power: Internal and external resources, skills, capabilities, conditions, that make the agent ‘able’ and ‘in condition’ to do a given action and to realize a given goal. This is the “power of” doing an action, realizing a goal. There are various forms of social power; the most basic is the “Power over” the other: Y is dependent on X as for a given goal, thus X has Power over Y as for that goal.

Goal-Adoption: Goal-Adoption is when an autonomous agent X with her own goal comes to have a new goal (and possibly pursue it), since and until she believe that it is the goal of another agent Y, in order Y realizes his goal. Goal-Adoption can be there both for altruistic or for selfish reasons. A special kind of Goal-Adoption is Goal-Adhesion: where X ‘accepts’ to help Y, since there is an (implicit or explicit) request (expectation, order, will, …) that she does something for Y.

Goal-Delegation: Agent X has certain expectations (predictions + wishes) about Y’s behavior, and relies, counts upon that behavior in order to perform her action and achieve the goal; she is allocating a part of her plan to Y. X can just count on Y’s action by exploiting Y’s autonomous action; Y can be unaware. In stronger forms, X actively assigns that part of the plan to Y (by authority or exchange or cooperative agreement or request for help, etc.); Y accepts this. This notion of Delegation is more basic and broader than the ‘institutional’ notion (usually used in organizations), where X not only allocate a part of her plan to Y, but she also ‘empowers’ Y for doing this, and passes to him some resource, and (more important) some responsibility or duty which was of X or of the group or organization.

Agent: Autonomous proactive (purposive) entities. “Agents” - as defined in MAS - are autonomous entities: there is not a fully centralized processing; they have local independent information and results, and, sometimes, independent learning or reasoning; they have some pro-activity (Wooldridge and Jennings, 1995); they are regulated by internal representations (sometimes strictly ‘purposive’ ones, like in BDI Agents); they have their own powers (skills, but possibly also resources like data). The most qualifying and advanced form of autonomy and of agency obviously is autonomy in goals: when an agent has its own independent motives, and will pursue our objectives only if there is some reason and advantage for doing so (self-motivated).

Role: The role is what a member, an agent, is supposed (or better prescribed) to do within a multi-agent plan, and within an organization; the set of assigned goals, duties, powers, assumptions. His ‘part’, or ‘share’; his ‘mansion’ and contribution to the global outcome. A role is something to be dressed, to be ‘interpreted’; a mask, a character: the agent becomes a “role player”.

Autonomy: ‘Autonomy’ is a relational notion: X is autonomous from somebody else (Y) and as for something (O) (Castelfranchi, 1995a). Autonomous means that X doesn’t depends on Y as for (having/realizing) O; does not need Y for this. X can have or realize O by itself. An active entity can be autonomous on various dimensions and for various “resources” or “activities”: for example, for accessing information and data, for learning, for reasoning, for decision making, for abilities and skills, or for external material resources (money, a car, etc.). One might be autonomous as for a given O but not for another one. For example, X may be autonomous as for deciding but not as for the needed data, because she is blind; or, X may have the practical resources for doing action A, but not being able to do it, and she needs the help of Y for this.

Organization: “Organization” is organization of the activities of sub-units, able to get and process information, to act in a coordinated manner, to co-operate, and to do this with some local – decentralized – autonomy, and adaptation to the context. In particular, ‘organizations’ are coordination structures for cooperation among several agents, in view of iterated and typical problems or problem-solving activities. Any ‘organization’ entails some Multi-Agent (MA) plan, and the agents have to work (case by case) within some common plan. One of the advantages of organizations is precisely that a lot of roles in habitual plans or in possible generative plans are pre-defined and consolidated, and the performer of that part/role has not to know the whole plan or the specific higher goal, has not to negotiate about reciprocal roles, etc. This is one of the reasons organizations are efficient and convenient (reduced cognitive costs, reduced negotiation costs, pre-established general agreement, etc.). In a sense an organization is a meta-plan: both, a plan for making specific and instantiated plans, and a generic, non-instantiated plan to be applied. So the roles in the organization are generalized roles to be instantiated case by case in specific plans.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Liz Sonenberg
Preface
Virginia Dignum
Acknowledgment
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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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