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Balancing exploration and exploitation in complex environments

Anca Bocanet (University of Naples Federico II – Department of Business and Managerial Engineering, Naples, Italy)
Cristina Ponsiglione (University of Naples Federico II – Department of Business and Managerial Engineering, Naples, Italy)

VINE

ISSN: 0305-5728

Article publication date: 10 February 2012

1306

Abstract

Purpose

The objective of this study is to model and analyze the exploration‐exploitation dynamics of March's model of mutual learning in a complex environment. By enhancing the above mentioned model, the paper seeks to propose a new agent‐based model of mutual learning within an organization.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper replicates March's model of simulating learning within an organization using an agent‐based simulation approach, and extends it by modelling the problem space as a fitness landscape using Kauffman's NK model technique.

Findings

It was found that it is impossible to find a right balance between exploration and exploitation using the communication structure of March's model.

Practical implications

The proposed model could help create a virtual laboratory for experimenting organizations' behavior in a complex co‐evolving environment. This virtual laboratory may be used in the future to support the decision‐making process of managers and policy makers.

Originality/value

Designing the external environment as a fitness landscape helps in discovering what effect the environmental complexity has on the emerging balance between exploration and exploitation. It is the first study to design the environment of a model which analyzes the mutual learning between an organization and its members as a complex non‐linear space.

Keywords

Citation

Bocanet, A. and Ponsiglione, C. (2012), "Balancing exploration and exploitation in complex environments", VINE, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 15-35. https://doi.org/10.1108/03055721211207743

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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