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On the quest for defining organisational plasticity: a community modelling experiment

Peer-Olaf Siebers (School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Dinuka Herath (Department of Management, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Emanuele Bardone (Institute of Education, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia)
Siavash Farahbakhsh (Faculty of Economics and Management, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy)
Peter Gloggengiehser Knudsen (Entrepreneur, SMV Partnerinvest, Holbæk, Denmark)
Jens Koed Madsen (Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science, London School of Economics, London, UK)
Mehwish Mufti (Management, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK)
Martin Neumann (Institute for Sociology, JGU MAINZ, Mainz, Germany)
Dale Richards (Department of Engineering, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Raffaello Seri (DIECO and Center for Nonlinear and Complex Systems, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy)
Davide Secchi (Department of Language and Communication, Research Centre for Computational and Organisational Cognition, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark)

Evidence-based HRM

ISSN: 2049-3983

Article publication date: 15 September 2020



This viewpoint article is concerned with an attempt to advance organisational plasticity (OP) modelling concepts by using a novel community modelling framework (PhiloLab) from the social simulation community to drive the process of idea generation. In addition, the authors want to feed back their experience with PhiloLab as they believe that this way of idea generation could also be of interest to the wider evidence-based human resource management (EBHRM) community.


The authors used some workshop sessions to brainstorm new conceptual ideas in a structured and efficient way with a multidisciplinary group of 14 (mainly academic) participants using PhiloLab. This is a tool from the social simulation community, which stimulates and formally supports discussions about philosophical questions of future societal models by means of developing conceptual agent-based simulation models. This was followed by an analysis of the qualitative data gathered during the PhiloLab sessions, feeding into the definition of a set of primary axioms of a plastic organisation.


The PhiloLab experiment helped with defining a set of primary axioms of a plastic organisation, which are presented in this viewpoint article. The results indicated that the problem was rather complex, but it also showed good potential for an agent-based simulation model to tackle some of the key issues related to OP. The experiment also showed that PhiloLab was very useful in terms of knowledge and idea gathering.


Through information gathering and open debates on how to create an agent-based simulation model of a plastic organisation, the authors could identify some of the characteristics of OP and start structuring some of the parameters for a computational simulation. With the outcome of the PhiloLab experiment, the authors are paving the way towards future exploratory computational simulation studies of OP.



The authors wish to thank the Business School at the University of Huddersfield for hosting the ABMO3 Workshop and the European Academy of Management (EURAM) OB SIG that kindly co-funded and sponsored the event. An earlier version of this viewpoint article has been presented at the annual conference of the European Social Simulation Association, the Social Simulation Conference (SSC) 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden. The authors wish to thank the conference participants and reviewers for useful constructive feedback.


Siebers, P.-O., Herath, D., Bardone, E., Farahbakhsh, S., Knudsen, P.G., Madsen, J.K., Mufti, M., Neumann, M., Richards, D., Seri, R. and Secchi, D. (2020), "On the quest for defining organisational plasticity: a community modelling experiment", Evidence-based HRM, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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