Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Industrial and Systems Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Ronald E. Giachetti

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Martha A. Centeno

Third Advisor's Name

José A. Faria

Fourth Advisor's Name

Marc L. Resnick

Keywords

Agent-based simulation, Team Modeling, Team Simulation, Team Coordination, Organizational Simulation, Team Design, Stochastic Task Structure

Date of Defense

5-5-2010

Abstract

This research is based on the premises that teams can be designed to optimize its performance, and appropriate team coordination is a significant factor to team outcome performance. Contingency theory argues that the effectiveness of a team depends on the right fit of the team design factors to the particular job at hand. Therefore, organizations need computational tools capable of predict the performance of different configurations of teams.

This research created an agent-based model of teams called the Team Coordination Model (TCM). The TCM estimates the coordination load and performance of a team, based on its composition, coordination mechanisms, and job’s structural characteristics. The TCM can be used to determine the team’s design characteristics that most likely lead the team to achieve optimal performance.

The TCM is implemented as an agent-based discrete-event simulation application built using JAVA and Cybele Pro agent architecture. The model implements the effect of individual team design factors on team processes, but the resulting performance emerges from the behavior of the agents. These team member agents use decision making, and explicit and implicit mechanisms to coordinate the job. The model validation included the comparison of the TCM’s results with statistics from a real team and with the results predicted by the team performance literature.

An illustrative 26-1 fractional factorial experimental design demonstrates the application of the simulation model to the design of a team. The results from the ANOVA analysis have been used to recommend the combination of levels of the experimental factors that optimize the completion time for a team that runs sailboats races.

This research main contribution to the team modeling literature is a model capable of simulating teams working on complex job environments. The TCM implements a stochastic job structure model capable of capturing some of the complexity not capture by current models. In a stochastic job structure, the tasks required to complete the job change during the team execution of the job. This research proposed three new types of dependencies between tasks required to model a job as a stochastic structure. These dependencies are conditional sequential, single-conditional sequential, and the merge dependencies.

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