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A case for agent-based models in organizational behavior and team research

Davide Secchi (Department of Language and Communication, University of Southern Denmark, Slagelse, Denmark)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 9 March 2015



This paper aims at introducing agent-based models (ABMs) and reviews some of their features in an attempt to show why they can be useful for organizational behavior research.


The use of simulations has increased substantially in the past ten to fifteen years, but management seems to hold back to the agent-based “revolution”. The paper first describes the ABMs, and then discusses some of the issues that usually prevent management scholars from using simulations.


This paper indicates how an agent-based approach can help overcome the hesitations surrounding computer simulations because (a) it makes it relatively easy to model emergent and complex social phenomena, and (b) simulation is made easier by user-friendly software platforms that connect it to the existing research methods.


This article describes ABMs in a way that may be attractive to organization scholars, and it depicts the frontiers of a more flexible computational and mathematical approach to organizations, management and teams.



This paper was written after the keynote speech I gave at the Organizational Behavior SIG at the European Academy of Management 2014 annual conference. I wish to thank the organizers, Fabian Homberg and Alessandro Hinna, for allowing me to reflect on these important issues. Also, many thanks go to Stephen J. Cowley and Venancio Tauringana for their extremely useful feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript. Finally, Petru Curseu, editor of Team Performance Management, showed encouragement and very constructive support: Thank you very much. All errors are sole responsibility of the author.


Secchi, D. (2015), "A case for agent-based models in organizational behavior and team research", Team Performance Management, Vol. 21 No. 1/2, pp. 37-50.



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