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Course Schedule


Rich Cognitive Models
10.06.2010 - 10.06.2010
University of Leicester - Leicester
Advanced Course


Behaviour Changes in Large Organisations

The construction trade has recently been swamped with a host of health and safety directives. From not entering a building site without a hard hat over steel toe shoes at all times to proper roping on climbing a scaffold, the list seems to be endless. The legislation is in the interest of the construction workers as it centers on their safety. Nonetheless, implementation is slow and resistance among construction workers is high. 

NHS hospitals in the UK have a severe problem with superbugs like MRSA. Although it seems that the origin of those bugs is connected to overprescription of antibiotics to patients, leading to very fast mutation and high levels of resistance, it has been acknowledged that hospital hygiene is a major contributor to the spread of MRSA. In order to buck the trend, the department of health has released a host of guidelines, measures and targets over the years. Again, infection rates and cleanliness results are less than encouraging and improvement is slow. 

It seems the behaviour of people working in large institutions such as hospitals and building sites is not easy to change. How can cleanliness in hospitals be improved? How can the safety of construction workers be ensured? The overarching question is how a culture in large organisations can be changed. Is tighter control needed? More incentives? Coercion? Choice? Responsibility? Education and information? 

In this workshop we would like to focus on how to model changes in institutional cultures. We do not look for an implemented solution to the problem. Instead we would like a range of approaches to the problem providing unique formalisations and modeling ideas to understand and solve the problems faced in this kind of behaviour change in large institutions. 

This workshop brings together key players from the agent-based modelling (ABM) and the multi-agent systems (MAS) community. We ask them to give us an outline how they would tackle the problem of culture change in hospitals. The workshop will allow for small group discussion as well as a plenary about different approaches and their integration.



Virginia Dignum is a senior lecturer at the Delft University of Technology, Dept. of Technology, Policy and Management. She received a PhD in from UU in 2004. Previously, she worked in industry for more than 12 years and was a lecturer at Utrecht University. Her research focuses agent based models of organisations, and hybrid teams of people and machines. She received the prestigious award of excellence Veni from the Dutch Scientific Research Foundation in 2006. She is involved in several European and national projects, has organised many international conferences and workshops (in particular, was co-organiser of AAMAS'05) and has more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and has given many invited talks and tutorials in venues so diverse as corporate trainings, cognitive psychology research schools, social simulation, software engineering, knowledge management or multi-agent systems conferences.


Bruce Edmonds is the Director of the Centre for Policy Modelling, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Manchester Metropolitan Unviserity Businesss School. He is interested in far too many things for his own good, but including social simulation, complexity, context, social intelligence, and alternative ways of distributing/organising society. More information about him can be found here.


Michael Luck is Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science at King's College London, where he leads the Agents and Intelligent Systems subgroup and undertakes research into agent technologies and intelligent systems. Professor Luck has published around 200 articles in these and related areas, and twelve books (including monographs, textbooks, and edited collections); he was lead author of the AgentLink roadmaps in 2003 and 2005. According to CiteSeer in August 2006, he is in the top 0.5% of computer scientists in the world, and according to Google Scholar, he has an h-index of 33. More information about him can be found here.


Edmund Chattoe-Brown’s research addresses decisions with significant social components. Flows of information/influence through networks are obvious examples. He is interested in how agent-based modelling can systematically be informed by data routinely collected in social science, steering between data free “toy” models and “number crunching” for existing theories.


Corinna Elsenbroich is a Research Fellow in Sociology at the University of Surrey. Her research background is in philosophy of science and computer science. Her research interests are the methodology of simulation in the social sciences and the interrelations between reasoning, decision making and action which will here be applied to the phenomenon of social norms.  

Nigel Gilbert is professor of Sociology at the University of Surrey and editor of the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation.  He has written on the methodology of agent-based modelling and authored two textbooks on social simulation, as well as directing a number of large projects that used agent-based models.



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