Andrew J. Collins, Ph.D., has applied, both academically and practically, analytical techniques to a variety of practical Operations Research problems with a focus on Agent-based Modeling and Simulation (ABMS). These projects include an award-winning investigation into the foreclosure contagion effect.
Modeling Strategic Informal Group Formation in project-based organization
Workers may form informal coalitions with colleagues for mutual gain, e.g., job security, promotion prospects, etc. These informal coalitions are part of the “office politics” of an organization. These coalitions might benefit the individuals involved, but they do not necessarily benefit the organization as a whole, i.e., the goals of the coalition and organization do not align. Modeling the formation of these informal individually-driven coalitions is difficult due to their strategic nature. We have been applying a novel hybrid modeling approach to help understand strategic coalition formation within project-based organizations. Understanding how informal coalitions are formed, and their impact on productivity, will allow organizations to develop incentive structures that promote desired informal coalitions. This understanding is especially important in project-based organizations, which have teams in constant flux and require more adaptive management strategies. Currently, the project team is developing social psychology experiments, using commercial board games, to help provide valid data input into simulation development.
Strategic Group Formation in Agent-based Models
This technical project investigates strategic group formation through the incorporation of cooperative game theory techniques within an agent-based model (ABM). Strategic group formation occurs when a collection of individuals chooses to join, or leave a group, based on maximizing their utility; this may include leaving a group with other group members to form a new subgroup. Current modeling approaches to capturing group formation and dynamics lack the strategic element required to model the complexity of human decision-making. Game theory provides a mechanism to introduce this strategic behavior, and our approach has been to incorporate the core, a concept from cooperative game theory, within an ABM framework. The approach has been applied variety of real-world situations including refugee movement, criminal gangs, research teams, and inter-country relations.