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23 November, 2011

Emma Norling back at the CPM

I am glad to say Emma Norling will be back working as an RA at the CPM from December.

22 November, 2011

Stefano Picascia has joined the CPM

We are delighted that Stefano Picascia has joined us as a PhD student under the SCID project (  He previously worked at CNR in Rome with Mario Paolucci.

Bogdan Werth's Thesis: Uncertainty in IT Outsourcing of Large Financial Institutions

Uncertainty in IT Outsourcing of Large Financial Institutions

CPM Report No.: CPM-10-214
By: Bogdan Werth

Suggested citation:

Werth, Bogdan (2010) Uncertainty in IT Outsourcing of Large Financial Institutions, Doctoral Thesis, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, Manchester, United Kingdom.


According to the recent industry reports, relatively few European banks have benefited from information technology outsourcing to the extent originally anticipated by these institutions. Despite the setbacks, most intended to increase outsourcing activities in pursuit of reduced labour costs, specialized skills, process expertise, superior technical resources, and enable a better focus on their core business. Whether or not these reasons are justified, outsourcing often has unexpected impacts, both positive and negative, on the operation of an organisation. 

Despite the lack of a commonly accepted interpretation of outsourcing outcomes, the practice of outsourcing in modern corporations is proliferating. This trend has forced both practitioners and academics to theorize and speculate on the underlying momentum towards outsourcing. So far the information technology outsourcing literature has mainly focused on the transaction itself, without investigating the strategic characteristics of the organization leaving out of sight a built-in social framework of the firm or social context it is located in. This trend captures the widely held perception that organisational members makeoutsourcing decisions based upon an economic rationale and regard social factors as negligible in an overall picture of outsourcing.

Agent-based modelling provides us with a tool for examining the implications of various social and organizational choices within organisations. This thesis examines how this can be done in the case of choosing to outsource (or not) the information technology needs within large banking organisations. This thesis introduces an alternative approach to the investigation of economic theories by means of evidence-based agent-based social simulation. It suggests and seeks an alternative metric for asset specificity with a more qualitative flavour. Williamson’s transaction cost framework is replicated with autonomous, heterogeneous agents as actors of the modelled outsourcing process that can act according to changes in the environment they are located in. Social structures emerge from the interaction and information exchange between individuals in the market. The models succeed in producing a qualitative definition of the term asset specificity. 

The modelling and the fieldwork were carried out by the same party with data engineering involving stakeholder interactions. A constructive and modular approach to model design was adopted. The rules for the agents’ behaviour were derived partly from the relevant reports and partly from qualitative insight into the modelled target system. The first research stage involved gathering of relevant data in collaboration with industry partners. Based upon data collected from the fieldwork a prototype declarative agent-based coarse grained model was developed. Building a “mock-up” model first was intended in order to point out data requirements, and help to determine which data is important and which can be dismissed. This model allowed the identification of gaps in the current data set that need to be filled in order to develop a more informative model. In subsequent research stages additional interviews were conducted in order  to fill gaps, which became evident through the analysis of the mock-up model. Exploration and validation of the models’ results happened in a constant feedback-loop, together with domain experts. The constant cross validation with stakeholders and domain experts facilitated the development of a simulation that was credible for practitioners, who came to participate in the research with sceptical views. This particular case study is presented as an example of a generalised approach that can be used to examine different aspects of organisational change.


12 November, 2011

4th Int. Symp. on Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation, Vienna April 2012


Fourth International Symposium on
"Untapping the true potential
of Agent-Based Modeling"

Chairs: Stefania Bandini, Paolo Petta and Giuseppe Vizzari

at the 21th European Meeting on
Cybernetics and Systems Research
April 10 - 13, Vienna

Submission deadline: December 9, 2011


The notions of agents and multi-agent systems have been adopted for the
modeling of complex systems in the most varied contexts: from social
sciences to urban planning, biology, logistics and production, and many
other more. Agent-based models and simulators are used for research as
well as for business/industrial applications. However, the concepts
behind the term 'agent' are often quite different, as well as the goals,
phases and practices involved in modeling and simulation activities.
This leads to different approaches, models, mechanisms, methodologies
and developed computational systems supporting simulation of the modeled

The aim of this workshop, building on the experiences and results of the
previous editions held in 2006, 2008 and 2010 is to bring together
competencies related to agent-based modeling and simulation in different
contexts, first of all to foster cross fertilization but also on one hand
to understand what are the particular features of this kind of approach
that made it so successful and widespread and, more important, to deeply
explore the features that differentiate it from other computational
approaches to the investigation of complex systems, like physical
approaches and Cellular Automata. The theme for this year's edition of the
symposium is thus "Untapping the true potential of Agent-Based Modeling":
the authors are invited to go in the details of the features of the
agent-based approach that made them opt for it instead of different
alternatives (e.g. the possibility to represent, analyze, exploit cognitive
models for agents, to study or employ some psycho/socio/anthropological
theory; to manage a high level of heterogeneity in the analyzed system;
to define a comprehensive model of perception, action and interaction of
autonomous entities situated in an environment).

Next to paper presentations, ample room will be available for discussions, taking
advantage of the friendly setting provided by EMCSR.

Topics of Interest  

We invite papers on all aspects relating to agent-based modeling
and simulation, with particular attention to interdisciplinary
experiences. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to,
the following:

·      actual MAS-based simulation experiences
·      agent-based modeling methodologies
·      generic or domain specific MAS models for simulation
·      methodologies for the analysis of MAS-based simulation results
·      multi-agent models for emergent phenomena and self-organization
·      platforms for agent-based modeling and simulation
·      relationships between MAS models and other computational models for the simulation of complex systems
·      validation of MAS-based simulations

Authors are required to address the following issues  

·      goals and context of the simulation projects (explanatory or predictive, business or research context)
·      the notions and types of agents, internal architectures and decision mechanisms used
·      the notion of environment used, in which the agents are situated, and the related mechanisms of interaction
·      clear-cut working definitions of the basic and emerging concepts employed, grounded in theory/the literature
·      a crisp and scientifically valid characterisation of the research challenge identified or results obtained

Important dates  

Deadline for submission: December 9, 2011
Notification of Acceptance/Rejection: January 20, 2012
Final Papers: February 17, 2012

Followup publication  

As for the previous editions, we aim to publish a collection of extended
versions of selected accepted and presented papers as a special issue
of a renowned international journal.

Program Committee (confirmed, to be extended)  

Ana Bazzan - Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul - Brazil
Sven Breuckner - Vector Research Center - USA
Paul Davidsson - Malmö University - Sweden
Jan Dijkstra - Eindhoven University of Technology - Netherlands
Bruce Edmonds - Manchester Metropolitan University Business School - UK
Giorgio Fagiolo - University of Verona - Italy
Joseph Giampapa - Carnegie Mellon University - USA
Nigel Gilbert - University of Surrey - UK
László Gulyás - AITIA International Inc. - Hungary
Xiaolin Hu - Georgia State University - USA
Franziska Klügl - Örebro university - Sweden
Michael North - Argonne National Laboratory - USA
Andrea Omicini - University of Bologna - Italy
Andreas Pyka - University of Augsburg - Germany
Rosaldo Rossetti - University of Porto - Portugal
Majid Sarvi - Monash University - Australia
Andreas Schadschneider - University of Cologne - Germany
Armin Seyfried - Jülich Supercomputing Centre - Germany
Flavio Soares Correa da Silva - University of S. Paulo - Brazil
Daniel Villatoro - Spanish Scientific Research Council - Spain

07 November, 2011

Re-advertisement of EPSRC PhD studentship at the Centre for Policy Modelling

PhD Studentship at the Centre for Policy Modelling
as part of the EPSRC-funded  SCID project

(re-advertised due to an appointed candidate dropping out for personal reasons)

Stipend: £13,290 per annum + applicable fees
From time of appointment up to August 2015 maximum

Centre for Policy Modelling
Manchester Metropolitan University Business School

Applications are invited students to work on modelling projects
associated with the EPSRC project: the Social Complexity of
Immigration and Diversity (SCID).  This project is in association with
the University of Manchester's Institute for Social Change and its
Department of Theoretical Physics.  This is a high-profile and
ambitious project that aims to develop a new approach to using
simulations to gain understanding of important social issues.  The
project is from September 2010 to August 2015 so the studentship will
have to be finished by then.

The period of study will involve the development of detailed
agent-based simulations reflecting as much of the evidence as possible
about a case study from one of 3 areas (for details see the project
*       Diversity, homophily and social trust
*       Socio-political integration
*       Socio-economic inequality

The evidence will be provided by experts at the Institute for Social
Change. The central challenge of the PhD will be to integrate as much
of this evidence as possible within Agent-based Simulations.  For more
details see the project description at:

Applicants should preferably have a Masters-level degree in a relevant
discipline, preferably with an element of computer science or
computational social science. The candidate should thus have a
reasonable level programming and/or simulation experience. An ability
to learn to program simulations is a must.  Knowledge
of sociology in one of the above areas is also an advantage.  The
candidate has to be an EU national.

The CPM is one of the few research centres in the world that
specialises on social simulation.  Since its inception in 1992 it has
developed its unique blend of trans-disciplinary research, crossing
the areas of: artificial intelligence, complexity science, philosophy
and computational social science (to get an idea of its scope browse
its discussion papers).  It has built up a reputation and track-record
over that time being involved in a number of EU and UK projects
(Ocopomo, EMIL, Nania, NeWater, GIACS, CAVES, CCDEW, FIRMA, IMIS).
The CPM is a happy, informal but creative lab.  For more information
about the work of the Centre see its website at

For informal discussions about the post, contact
Bruce Edmonds on +44 (0) 161 3886 or email to

To apply, send a CV with a covering letter to Bruce Edmonds, Centre
for Policy Modelling, MMUBS, Aytoun Building, Aytoun Street, M1 3GH,
UK.  Closing date for applications: 9th December 2011.

The University is committed to an Equal Opportunities Policy.

22 October, 2011

ESSA 2012 will be in Salzburg, Sept 10-14th

the 8th European Social Simulation Association Conference (ESSA 2012) will take place in Salzburg, Austria, September 10-14, 2012. It will be hosted by the Social Geography Research Group at the University of Salzburg. A first circular will be disseminated in November 2011.

Contact: Andreas Koch (

21 October, 2011

In April 2012 the CPM will move to a new building...

Details about the new building are at:

The CPM will be located within a single, L-shaped room, on the second floor in the central column towards the entrance.  It is shown in red in the plan of the 2nd floor here:

30 September, 2011

Summary and two keynotes from the Policy Modelling workshop in vienna are available.

The videos are at:

Summary of the ECCS 2011 Satellite Workshop “Policy Modelling”
This satellite workshop was about policy modelling with a focus on innovation policy. Policy modelling means to identify areas, which need intervention, to specify the desired state of the target system, to find the regulating mechanisms, policy formation and implementation, and to control and evaluate the robustness of interventions. The methodological difficulty hereby is to bridge the gap between policy practice often expressed in qualitative and narrative terms and the scientific realm of formal models. Furthermore, policymaking in complex social systems is no clear-cut cause-effect process but characterised by contingency and uncertainty.  To take into account technological, social, economic, political, cultural, ecological and other relevant parameters, policy modelling has to be enhanced and supported by new ICT-oriented research initiatives. Reviewing the current state-of-the-art of policy context analysis such as forecasting, foresight, backcasting, impact assessment, scenarios, early warning systems, and technology roadmapping, the need for policy intelligence dealing with complexity becomes more and more obvious.
Both days were opened by invited keynote speakers. On the first day, John Casti, showed in his keynote “Computational modelling and the complexity of policy” how what he termed complexity overload acts as the root cause of extreme events in all social environments, how social mood theory and agent-based modelling can help us develop tools to anticipate such events, and how this approach worked in case studies for the Finnish and Scottish policy sponsors within the Game Changers project of the IIASA Xevents activity.

This opened the floor for a day on the relation of complexity-based policy domains and ICT. We had presentations reporting concrete experiences with computational requirements and tools for policy modelling (José Javier Alba Sánchez,  Luca Minghini and  Gianluca Misuraca), and more exploratory studies about the possibility to create a general computational framework which uses evidence-based policy making to encapsulate socio-economic principles for creating enduring institutions for smart infrastructure management (Jeremy Pitt). Existing simulation models of technological evolution, knowledge dynamics and the emergence of innovation networks were introduced and discussed for validation potential to be relevant or stakeholders (Christopher Watts). There has been methodological progress in interpreting models’ processes and results, but relevance is still largely theoretical and reliability of validation procedures is incipient (Pablo Lucas). Case studies using specific models for innovation policy modelling were then presented such as two studies adapting and developing the SKIN model (Simulating Knowledge Dynamics in Innovation Networks;, a study for DG INFSO on ex-ante evaluation of the FP7 successor programme Horizon 2020 (Petra Ahrweiler, Michel Schilperoord, Nigel Gilbert and Andreas Pyka), and a simulation of the Vienna biotech cluster and its socio-economic dynamics, with a special focus on the influence of public research funding on its innovation performance (Manuela Korber and Manfred Paier). To assist policymakers with simulation results (e.g. Ozge Kalkan on waste resources markets), specific attention was drawn to modelling decision making processes (Diane Payne). 

In Policy Modelling there is an uneasy relationship between two different worlds: the "hard" "scientific" world of measurement, data, and analytic/computer modelling, mostly occupied by academics who see themselves as aiming for the truth behind complex socio-political systems and the "soft" world of "policy practice", where human understanding, communication and pragmatic decision making predominate, mostly occupied by pressure groups, advisers, politicians and consultants whose aim is to make acceptably good decisions.  This depth of this divide seems to be due to the complexity of human socio-political phenomena. It results in a distinction between two communities who are thinking about the same problems of policy making, and makes effective combination of these approaches difficult. Those in the field have sometimes downplayed this divide, but it makes for a real and substantial obstacle.  From the "scientific" point of view the policy side can seem to deliberately ignore the complexity of the phenomena, to not care about the truth and with a tendency to look for justifications for decisions that have already been made. From the "policy" side the scientific approach can seem to be politically naive, remote, inarticulate, and useless in the sense that they almost never will give straight recommendations but rather just abstract explanation in ways that are often difficult to understand.  However both sides are often motivated to try and bridge this divide, sensing that better decisions might be facilitated as a result.

The second day of the workshop focussed on the issues, ways and approaches for bridging this gap. This is timely since complexity science could be a bridging stone in this exercise, for the first time allowing the possibility of building such bridges in a well-founded manner. The papers and discussion at the workshop showed that the topics are very relevant and topical in today’s world, but still largely unresolved. Overcoming these difficulties calls for a deeper attention to human specific features, such as: immediacy, cognition, language, understanding, and interpretation, but it also showed that complexity science might be able to help and thus accommodate these features and, ultimately, to support effecting improvements in everyday policy practices. 

The papers presented also showed that the dramatic progress of ICT can help with this project, by facilitating the acquisition and immediate use of stakeholder narratives, allowing their “situated experiences” to directly feedback into the policy process.   Dave Snowden’s keynote presentation showed how implicit ground-level feedback techniques, by-passing the traditional slow modelling process, can be used to improve the guidance of policy by feeing the flow of information from those involved to the policy makes in a more direct manner.  This was echoed in Bruce Edmonds’ analogy between how the control problem in AI/robotics mirrors that of active policy formation. Sylvie Occelli pointed out that modelling might be used as both an activity as well as an artefact, that modelling could be a mediator engaging a wider selection of experts and stakeholders in the policy making process.  As an activity it can aid the integration between the humanistic world of understanding, and that of the scientific world of data.  As an artefact it can be an element in the policy debate alongside other means of expression. 

Two of the speakers: Giovanni Rabino, and also Magdalena Bielenia-Grajewska chose to examine the important role of language in the policy making process, whilst John Sutcliffe-Braithwaite argued for a meta-modelling language for specifying and talking about policy and social issues. However, the debate also showed that this potential is still underexploited in current policy practice. In this respect, much further research was indicated, in particular how policy modelling might be used as a way to build different mixes of argumentative and syntactic approaches and so improve the production of policies over the long run. 

15 September, 2011

09 September, 2011

Policy Modelling Workshop@ECCS 2011 Vienna

We would like to invite you to attend the satellite “Policy Modelling”, as part of the European Conference on Complex Systems ECCS 2011, on Wednesday, 14th and Thursday 15th of September, 2011, at Aula, Campus University of Vienna, Spitalgasse 2.

The 'Policy Modelling' workshop at the European Conference on Complex Systems (ECCS 2011), Vienna, September 2011 will bring together new research on Policy Modelling as it intersects the area of complexity science.  Broadly speaking this includes research on how complexity models and simulation can be used to improve and inform the policy making process.

In particular the workshop will focus on three key overlapping themes:

  • Modelling, Understanding and Managing Innovation
  • ICT, Large Scale Data and Scalability for Innovation Policy Modelling
  • Bridging the Gap between formal and policy worlds

For further information on speakers and the programme please see here: 

Please circulate to colleagues and researchers you think may be interested.

On behalf of the organisers,

17 May, 2011

ECCS 2011 Satellite Workshop on Policy Modelling Draft Programme

September 14th and 15th 201, ECCS, Vienna.
 Web page:

ECCS 2011 Satellite Workshop on Policy Modelling Programme

Day 1 - September 14th

8.30 - 9.00
Coffee and Registration
9.00 -10.00
Keynote: John Casti (tbc)
Title: TBA
Session 1
10.00 - 10.30
Cunningham “Simulating the impacts of future European ICT research intervention policies”
10.30 – 11.00
Sanchez, Minghini, Misuraca “ICT support to policy modelling: the IPTS experience on managing policy making complexity
11.00 – 11.30
11.30 – 12.00
Ahrweiler, Schilperoord, Gilbert, Pyka “Using network analysis and agent-based simulation for “Fp8” ex ante evaluation”
12.00 – 12.30
Pitt “Intelligent policy automation for open networks and smarter infrastructure”
12.30 – 14.30
Poster presentation (Schrempf, Gao, others)
Session 2
14.30 – 15.00
Korber, Paier “The impact of public research funding in biotechnology: an agent-based simulation”
15.00 – 15.30
Kalkan: “Lack of scarcity and missing markets for waste resources”
15.30 – 16.00
Davis “Simulation modelling and public policy: bringing people back in”
16.00 – 16.30
Session 3
16.30 – 17.00
Watts “Technology space, landscapes and units of knowledge: the issues presented by a core component to simulation models of innovation”
Payne “Modelling policy making in a group: empirical applications and challenges for the future”
17.30 – 18.00
Lucas “Issues pertaining to policy assessment and simulation modelling”

Workshop Dinner at “Palmenhaus

Day 2 – September 15th – Programme

9.00 -10.00
Keynote: Dave Snowden
Title: TBA

Occelli, Semboloni “Bridging expert and lay knowledge in policy making activities: which role(s) for models?”
10.30 - 11.00
Sutcliffe-Braithwaite “Science of computational socio-genomics”
11.00 – 11.30
Edmonds “Four different views of a policy model: an analysis and some suggestions”
11.30 – 12.00
12.00 – 12.30
Rabino “Language of professional, language of scientist: can complexity science can make each other understandable?”
12.30 – 13.00
Bielenia-GrajewskaThe communicative aspect of modern policy modeling. The role of metaphors in bridging the gap between the world of figures and the world of feelings”
Workshop close and Lunch

 Sponsored by:

01 April, 2011

Fuller information about ESSA Summer School, Surrey July 2010

ESSA Summer School 2011 

ESSA LogoFollowing the successful first ESSA Summer School on Agent-Based Modelling, held in Brescia, Italy in September 2010, a second Summer School will be held on 18-22 July 2011 at the University of Surrey, Guildford.

The Summer school is aimed at those who have a basic understanding of social simulation and are taking their first steps in agent-based modelling.  It is expected that most participants will be actively engaged in developing a simulation model.
The programme will consist of two lectures per day from experienced modellers, together with group sessions led by experienced researchers when participants can discuss their modelling plans and experience.  The lectures will focus on the stories behind successful examples of agent-based modelling, and will cover issues from defining a research question to writing effective reports.
Lecturers and researchers will include:
  • Iqbal Adjali (Unilever, UK)
  • Edmund Chattoe-Brown (University of Leicester, UK)
  • Ozge Dilaver Kalkan (University of Surrey, UK)
  • Bruce Edmonds (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
  • Nigel Gilbert (University of Surrey, UK)
  • Lynne Hamill (University of Surrey, UK)
  • Iris Lorscheid (Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg, Germany)
  • Paul Ormerod (Volterra Consulting, UK)
  • Mauricio Salgado (University of Surrey, UK)
  • Flaminio Squazzoni (University of Brescia, Italy)
  • Pietro Terna (University of Torino, Italy)
  • Warren Thorngate (Carleton University, Canada)
  • Klaus G Troitzsch (University of Koblenz, Germany)
  • Christopher Watts (University of Surrey, UK)
By the end of the Summer School, students can expect to have absorbed a great deal of 'tacit' knowledge about how to go about model building, as well as having had opportunities to discuss their research with experts and peers.

The Summer School welcomes postgraduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and professionals.

Application procedure

Please send a brief CV, a summary of your current research, including a description of modelling planned or achieved and, if you are a postgraduate student a letter of support from your supervisor, as attachments to an email with the subject line "ESSA Summer School application' to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by 15 March 2011 at the latest. Notification of acceptance/rejection will be send out by 1 April 2011.

Fees: deadline 15 April, 2011

  • For university and research institute students, including bed and breakfast (B&B) on the University Campus: £350
  • For staff of Higher Education institutions, including B&B on the University Campus: £450
  • For others, not including accommodation: £400
  • For others, with B&B on the University Campus: £600
Registration fees include lunches, coffee/tea during the day and a social dinner. The University accommodation is in single rooms with shared bathroom.
We do NOT accept late registrations. Registration will not be confirmed unless the payment is received.
Terms: If cancelled before 15 April 2011, no fee will be charged. If cancelled later or in case of no-show, the total price of the registration will be charged.


ASSYST are providing up to five bursaries to assist PhD students, each worth up to €300. To apply, ask your supervisor to include a statement of why you should be awarded a bursary in the letter of support you will send as part of your application. Priority in awarding the bursaries will be given to those who have no alternative means of funding their attendance at the Summer School. Bursaries will be given to the successful applicants at the summer school in July. It cannot be provided at the time of registration.
Bursary for UK applicants only: The UK National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) is offering training bursaries to UK staff engaged in research, teaching research methods or supervising research. For further information about the bursaries and to apply please see


Please send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The Summer school is sponsored by the SIMIAN project, Unilever Plc. and the University of Surrey, to whom we are grateful for their support.
University of Surrey Logo Simian Logo Uniever Logo Assyst Logo