The Role of Roles in Designing Effective Agent Organizations

  • James J. Odell
  • H. Van Dyke Parunak
  • Mitchell Fleischer
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2603)


Agent-based systems are no longer contained within the boundaries of a single, small agent organization. To meet the demands of large-scale system implementations, agent organizations must deal with environmental forces, interact with other agent organizations, and know how they affect individual agents. In this paper, we look to social and organizational systems theory as a source of inspiration. Many of these techniques have been successful for a hundreds and thousands of years. We believe that the designers of agent-based systems can learn a great deal from organization designers. In the first of a series, this paper examines the notion of role and its implications on how agents might behave in group settings.


Multiagent System Organization Designer Role Theory Agent Organization Vertical Specialization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Gasser, Les, “Perspectives on Organizations in Multi-Agent Systems,” Multi-Agent Systems and Applications, Michael Luck et al. eds., Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2001, pp. 1–16.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Katz, Daniel, and Robert L. Kahn, The Social Psychology of Organizations, (2nd ed.), John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1978.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Parunak, H. V. D., “‘Go to the Ant’: Engineering Principles from Natural Agent Systems,” Annals of Operations Research 75: 69–101, 1997.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bonabeau, E., M. Dorigo, et al., Swarm Intelligence: From Natural to Artificial Systems, New York, Oxford University Press, 1999.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Camazine, S., J.-L. Deneubourg, et al., Self-Organization in Biological Systems. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2001.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kephart, J. O., E. Hanson et al., “Dynamics of an Information-Filtering Economy,” Cooperative Information Agents II, M. Klusch and G. Weiss, eds. Berlin, Springer-Verlag. 1435: 160–170, 1998.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Beshers, S. N. and J. H. Fewell, “Models of Division of Labor in Social Insects,” Annual Review of Entomology, 46: 413–440, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Theraulaz, G., S. Goss, et al., “Task Differentiation in Polistes Wasp Colonies: A Model for Self-Organizing Groups of Robots,” First International Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior, MIT Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Parunak, H. Van Dyke, and James Odell, “Representing Social Structures in UML,” Agent-Oriented Software Engineering (AOSE) II, Michael Wooldridge et al. eds., Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2002, pp. 1–16.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Odell, James, H. ptVan Dyke Parunak, Mitch Fleischer, and Sven Brueckner, “ Modeling Agents and their Environment,” Agent-Oriented Software Engineering (AOSE) III, Fausto Giunchiglia et al. eds., Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2003(forthcoming).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Parunak, H. Van Dyke, S. Brueckner, M. Fleischer, and J. Odell, “Co-X: Defining what Agents Do Together,” In Proceedings of Workshop on Teamwork and Coalition Formation, AAMAS 2002, 2002.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Biddle, Bruce J., and Edwin J. Thomas, Role Theory: Concepts and Research, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1966.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Moreno, J.L. ed., The Sociometry Reader, The Free Press, Glencoe, IL, 1960.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    Bormann, E.G., and N.C. Bormann, Effective Small Group Communication, Burgess Publications, Minneapolis, MN, 1988.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Burke, Peter J., “The Development of Task and Social-emotional Role Differentiation,” Sociometry, 30 (December), 1967, pp. 379–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 17.
    Burke, Peter J., “Role Differentiation and the Legitimation of Task Activity,” Sociometry, 32 (June), 1968, pp. 159–68. Reprinted by Warner Modular Publications, Inc. (R466), 1973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 18.
    Diamond, M.A. and Seth Allcorn, “Role Formation As Defensive Activity In Bureaucratic Organizations,” Political Psychology, Vol. 7, No. 4, December, 1986.Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Mintzberg, Henry, Structure in Fives: Designing Effective Organizations, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1993.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Zambonelli, F. and H. V. D. Parunak, “From Design to Intention: Signs of a Revolution,” First International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS 2002), Bologna, Italy, 2002.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Parunak, H. V. D., “Visualizing Agent Conversations: Using Enhanced Dooley Graphs for Agent Design and Analysis,” Second International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS’96), 1996.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Krackhardt, D. and J. Hanson, “Informal Networks: the Company behind the Chart,” Harvard Business Review, 71(4), July/Aug., 1993, pp. 104–111.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Rogers, E.M. and D.L. Kincaid, Communication Networks: toward a new paradigm for research, New York: Free Press, 1981.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Wooldridge, M., N.R. Jennings, and D. Kinny, The Gaia Methodology for Agent-Oriented Analysis and Design. International Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, 3(3), September 2000, pp. 285–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 25.
    Evans, R., et al., Methodology for Agent-Oriented Software Engineering, EURESCOM, Project P907 Deliverable 3, final report, 20 September, 2001.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • James J. Odell
    • 1
  • H. Van Dyke Parunak
    • 2
  • Mitchell Fleischer
    • 2
  1. 1.James Odell AssociatesUSA
  2. 2.AltarumUSA

Personalised recommendations