An agent-based model of the impact of computer-mediated communication on organizational culture and performance: An example of the application of complex systems analysis tools to the study of CIS

Enrique Canessa, Rick L. Riolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Organizations that make use of computer information systems (CIS) are prototypical complex adaptive systems (CAS). This paper shows how an approach from Complexity Science, exploratory agent-based modeling (ABM), can be used to study the impact of two different modes of use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) on organizational culture (OC) and performance. The ABM includes stylized representations of (a) agents communicating with other agents to complete tasks; (b) an OC consisting of the distribution of agent traits, changing as agents communicate; (c) the effect of OC on communication effectiveness (CE), and (d) the effect of CE on task completion times, that is, performance. If CMC is used in a broad mode, that is, to contact and collaborate with many, new agents, the development of a strong OC is slowed, leading to decreased CE and poorer performance early on. If CMC is used in a local mode, repeatedly contacting the same agents, a strong OC develops rapidly, leading to increased CE and high performance early on. However, if CMC is used in a broad mode over longer time periods, a strong OC can develop over a wider set of agents, leading to an OC that is stronger than an OC which develops with local CMC use. Thus broad use of CMC results in overall CE and performance that is higher than is generated by local use of CMC. We also discuss how the dynamics generated by an ABM can lead to a deeper understanding of the behavior of a CAS, for example, allowing us to better design empirical longitudinal studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-283
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Information Technology
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2006

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