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Organisational plasticity: can we really model human–agent behaviours?

Dale Richards (Department of Engineering, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

Evidence-based HRM

ISSN: 2049-3983

Article publication date: 7 April 2020

Issue publication date: 12 May 2021




The ability for an organisation to adapt and respond to external pressures is a beneficial activity towards optimising efficiency and increasing the likelihood of achieving set goals. It can also be suggested that this very ability to adapt to one's surroundings is one of the key factors of resilience. The nature of dynamically responding to sudden change and then to return to a state that is efficient may be termed as possessing the characteristic of plasticity. Uses of agent-based systems in assisting in organisational processes may have a hand in facilitating an organisations' plasticity, and computational modelling has often been used to try and predict both agent and human behaviour. Such models also promise the ability to examine the dynamics of organisational plasticity through the direct manipulation of key factors. This paper discusses the use of such models in application to organisational plasticity and in particular the relevance to human behaviour and perception of agent-based modelling. The uses of analogies for explaining organisational plasticity is also discussed, with particular discussion around the use of modelling. When the authors consider the means by which the authors can adopt theories to explain this type of behaviour, models tend to focus on aspects of predictability. This in turn loses a degree of realism when we consider the complex nature of human behaviour, and more so that of human–agent behaviour.


The methodology and approach used for this paper is reflected in the review of the literature and research.


The use of human–agent behaviour models in organisational plasticity is discussed in this paper.


The originality of this paper is based on the importance of considering the human–agent-based models. When compared to agent-based model approaches, analogy is used as a narrative in this paper.



Richards, D. (2021), "Organisational plasticity: can we really model human–agent behaviours?", Evidence-based HRM, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 181-191.



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