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The duality of individuals and problems in garbage can organizations

The duality of individuals and problems in garbage can organizations

Lomi, Alessandro, Conaldi, Guido ORCID: 0000-0003-3552-7307 and Tonellato, Marco (2011) The duality of individuals and problems in garbage can organizations. In: Garbage Can Model 40th Anniversary Conference, 24-25 Jun 2011, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA. (Unpublished)

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One way to think about organizations is in terms of the mutually constitutive relation between organizational participants and problems. The identities of organizational participants are defined in terms of the set of problems they jointly engage. The identities of organizational problems are defined, dually, in terms of the set of participants jointly engaged in their resolution. Building on this interpretation we reformulate the garbage can model as a dynamic model of bipartite association between organizational participants and organizational problems. This reformulation allows us to address two main issues that have limited the acceptance of the garbage can model as an empirically informative description of how organizations function. The first issue concerns the assumption of independence between problems and solutions. We show how independence assumptions may be relaxed within an analytical framework broadly consistent with the spirit and the objectives of original model. The second issue concerns the assumption of formal hierarchy as a hard-wired exogenous constraint on the association between participants
and problems. We show how important organizational properties like, for example, division of labor and specialization emerge endogenously from individual problem-solving acts that are observed and collectively interpreted by organizational participants. We rely on a newly derived
class of stochastic agent-based models for bipartite networks to link our arguments to data that we have collected on the association between software developers and software problems observed during a complete release cycle of a popular open source software project. The empirical results we report suggest possible ways in which our understanding of the organization of production processes might be enriched.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: garbage can model, Stochastic Actor-Oriented Models (SAOM), intra-organizational networks, free/open source software
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Networks and Urban Systems Centre (NUSC) > Centre for Business Network Analysis (CBNA)
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Last Modified: 04 Mar 2019 16:48

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