Multi-Agent Simulation and Management Practices - Computer Science > Artificial IntelligenceReport as inadecuate

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Abstract: Intelligent agents offer a new and exciting way of understanding the world ofwork. Agent-Based Simulation ABS, one way of using intelligent agents,carries great potential for progressing our understanding of managementpractices and how they link to retail performance. We have developed simulationmodels based on research by a multi-disciplinary team of economists, workpsychologists and computer scientists. We will discuss our experiences ofimplementing these concepts working with a well-known retail department store.There is no doubt that management practices are linked to the performance of anorganisation Reynolds et al., 2005; Wall and Wood, 2005. Best practices havebeen developed, but when it comes down to the actual application of theseguidelines considerable ambiguity remains regarding their effectiveness withinparticular contexts Siebers et al., forthcoming a. Most Operational ResearchOR methods can only be used as analysis tools once management practices havebeen implemented. Often they are not very useful for giving answers tospeculative -what-if- questions, particularly when one is interested in thedevelopment of the system over time rather than just the state of the system ata certain point in time. Simulation can be used to analyse the operation ofdynamic and stochastic systems. ABS is particularly useful when complexinteractions between system entities exist, such as autonomous decision makingor negotiation. In an ABS model the researcher explicitly describes thedecision process of simulated actors at the micro level. Structures emerge atthe macro level as a result of the actions of the agents and their interactionswith other agents and the environment. 3 We will show how ABS experiments candeal with testing and optimising management practices such as training,empowerment or teamwork. Hence, questions such as -will staff setting their ownbreak times improve performance?- can be investigated.

Author: Peer-Olaf Siebers, Uwe Aickelin, Helen Celia, Chris Clegg


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