Social simulations and organizational behavior

Starting date
September 15, 2014
Duration (months)
Human Sciences
Managers or local contacts
Ceschi Andrea

The present research proposes new approaches for organizational studies, a hybrid between the classical statistical model approach, and the dynamic modeling. Indeed, a new scientific paradigm has been evolving for some time now and gradually acquiring more consensus in such fields as strategic management and organizational studies. It is typified by the concept of an organization as a complex adaptive system. In an early contribution to the field, Herbert Simon defined a complex system as being made up of a large number of interacting parts that produce hierarchical structures that are not readily decomposed into its contributing parts. Following this definition, it becomes possible to apply the label complex system to most of the organizations we know with the human aspects that characterize them. Namely, Agent-Based Modeling (ABM) are able to work with heterogeneous agents in their characteristics and abilities. In fact, within an ABM, it is possible to create several agents (from 2 to even thousands, depending on the computational resources available) and to model multiple characteristics of agents within an indefinite range, allowing the researcher to replicate the individual differences observed through experimental studies within the virtual simulation. Micro-heterogeneity is re-established into the analysis with the ABMs. The ABM approach additionally allows experimentation with parameters such as individual’s rationality, something that is difficult to address with a purely statistical approach. Indeed, a promising area of application of the ABMs is organizational behavior, where it is possible to model social behaviors to investigate organizational outcomes. Knowing, for example, the potential antecedents connected to some social behaviors, such as counterproductive behaviors (interpersonal deviance, abusive supervision, etc.), as well behaviors oriented to positive psychology (such as teamwork, career choices, etc.), makes it possible to recreate the same phenomena by using computer simulation for predictive purposes. ABM offers new unique opportunities for research in organizational psychology. As suggested by Cioffi-Revilla, as the microscope has granted the access for physics to an incredible micro-universe made up of earlier unnoticed elements, laws, and processes, computational simulations are the instrument that can drive new theories and applications by means of unprecedented replication and virtual experimentation of social and organizational process.


Funds: assigned and managed by the department

Project participants

Andrea Ceschi
Temporary Assistant Professor
Arianna Costantini
PhD student

Collaboratori esterni

Wander Jager
Groningen University
Research areas involved in the project
Formazione e organizzazioni
Psychology, Applied
Formazione e organizzazioni
work and organizational psychology
Title Authors Year
Advanced Modeling Methods for Studying Individual Differences and Dynamics in Organizations: Introduction to the Special Issue Ceschi, Andrea; Sartori, Riccardo; Guastello, Sj 2018
Application of Psychological Theories in Agent-Based Modeling: The Case of the Theory of Planned Behavior Scalco, Andrea; Ceschi, Andrea; Sartori, Riccardo 2018
The implementation of the theory of planned behavior in an agent-based model for waste recycling: A review and a proposal. Scalco, Andrea; Ceschi, Andrea; Shiboub, I; Sartori, Riccardo; Frayret, J-M; Dickert, Stephan 2017


Research facilities