News from the Centre for Policy Modelling, including announcements of: new papers, special issues, books, workshops, projects, jobs and study opportunities.

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.