A physics of organizational uncertainty: Perturbations, measurement and computational agents

W. F. Lawless, M. Bergman, N. Feltovich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Of two contradictory approaches to organizations, one builds a plausible story to advance knowledge, and the second resolves the interaction into a physics of uncertainty to make predictions. Both approaches lend themselves to computational agent models, but the former is based on information derived from methodological individualism operating within a stable reality, the latter on interaction uncertainty within a bistable reality. After case studies of decision making for Department of Energy (DOE) Citizen Advisory Boards, we relate the lessons learned to an agent model (EMCAS). We conclude that simple interactions can produce complex stories of organizations, but poorly anchored to reality and of little practical value for decision making. In contrast, with a physics of uncertainty we raise fundamental questions about the value of consensus to instrumental action. We find that by not considering uncertainty in the interaction, the former model instantiates traditional beliefs and cultural values, the latter instrumental action.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputational Economics
Subtitle of host publicationA Perspective from Computational Intelligence
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781591406495
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

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