24th MIT-UAlbany-WPI System Dynamics Ph.D. Colloquium
Friday, May 18, 2012

Sloan School of Management
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Room E62-446
Address: 100 Main St, Cambridge MA, 02142

Organizers: Ozge Karanfil & Junesoo Lee

Time Presentation Speaker
10:25 AM Introductory remarks

Dr. Damon Centola, MIT

10:30 AM Risk Management on the Front Lines: The Success and Failure of Bureaucratic Rules in Petrochemical Plants

John Lyneis, MIT

11:15 AM Environmentally Sustainable Business Model Development and Stakeholder Integration: What is the Value Added of the Going Green Globally Cornerstone Project?

Alex Trofimovsky, University at Albany

12:00 PM Lunch .
12:45 PM Modeling the effects of social influence on individual estimates over simple estimation tasks

Mohammad Jalali, Virginia Tech

1:30 PM GMB for Workload Analysis of System Dynamics Society Home Office

Katrina Hull/Junesoo Lee, University at Albany

2:15 PM Unintended Effects of Changes in NIH Appropriations: Challenges for Biomedical Research Workforce Development

Mauricio Gomez Diaz, MIT

3:00 PM Closing Remarks

Dr. Damon Centola, MIT

Abstracts

Risk Management on the Front Lines: The Success and Failure of Bureaucratic Rules in Petrochemical Plants

John Lyneis

The phenomenon of decoupling between formal organization and work practice has been a central theme in organization studies for decades. Despite the apparent benefits of formal organization as a means for coordinating complex activities, in practice work activities often deviate substantially from their design. How do we account for the prevalence of formal structure if it is so often ineffective? Existing theories of decoupling emphasize the inherent conflict that formal structure produces, between external legitimacy and efficiency on the one hand, and between worker consent and management control on the other. Yet, such theories fail to fully explain how formal structure is occasionally highly effective as a means of achieving reliable outcomes. Based on a comparative ethnography of the implementation of a safety management system in two petrochemical plants, I develop a dynamic theory of the success and failure of rule systems in organizations. Consistent with literature in the institutional tradition, I find that pressure to conform to externally imposed norms of bureaucratic rationality is an important source of decoupling. However, rather than compelling organizations to adopt practices that are inefficient or opposed to the interests of managers or workers, external pressure creates a conflict that is temporal: necessary efforts to demonstrate compliance in the short run directly undermine efforts to make rules effective in the longer term. When organizational actors have the flexibility to build organizational capabilities absent imperatives to demonstrate strict compliance at all times, formal structure can evolve to become a highly effective means of organizing. Absent such flexibility, rules can become a source of conflict characterized by worker resistance, tighter control, and decoupling. These results have important implications for modern efforts to manage risk in areas such as quality, safety, and environmental performance through governance systems based on transparency, accountability and standard rules.

Environmentally Sustainable Business Model Development and Stakeholder Integration: What is the Value Added of the Going Green Globally Cornerstone Project?
Alex Trofimovsky (presenter), Paul Miesing, Eliot Rich, Linda Krzykowski

The Going Green Globally (G3) cornerstone project is a two‐week business simulation where University at Albany, State University of New York full‐time Masters in Business Administration students apply what they have learned during their first year in their different courses and internships toward real client problems. To date, there has not been a review of results. Businesses today cannot ignore the pressing needs of the natural environment, and business education will need to respond to a changing landscape where it is difficult to conduct business without considering the natural environment. During G3 MBA teams work on comprehensive sustainability strategies for client companies as a way to learn and apply integrated business systems thinking. This living case study
examines understanding of a conceptual framework and the role of systems thinking in G3.

Modeling the effects of social influence on individual estimates over simple estimation tasks
Mohammad Jalali

Individuals make decisions every day. How they come up with estimates to guide their decisions could be a result of a combination of different information sources such as individual beliefs and previous knowledge, random guesses, and social cues. This study aims to sort out individual estimate assessments over multiple times with the main focus on how individuals weight their own belief vs. those of others in forming their future estimates. Using system dynamics modeling, we build on data from an experiment conducted by Lorenz et al. (2011) where 144 subjects make five estimates for six factual questions in an isolated manner (no debates allowed). We model the dynamic mechanism of changing estimates in two different scenarios: when individuals are not exposed to any information and when they are under social influence. Our simulation results also present how estimates fluctuate over time depending on the information exposure, confidence level, previous estimates, and influenceability of the subjects.

GMB for Workload Analysis of System Dynamics Society Home Office

Katrina Hull, Junesoo Lee

In 1996, the System Dynamics Society moved from MIT to UAlbany and since that time has seen a slow but steady growth in the amount of work accomplished at the home office. This project was launched as an attempt to examine the root causes of this growth in workload and sought policies to limit workload without injuring the growth of the Society and field overall. Following Group Model Building (GMB) process in which home office staffs participated, goal maps and system dynamics model on office workflow which threw light on the practical recommendations were drawn.

Unintended Effects of Changes in NIH Appropriations: Challenges for Biomedical Research Workforce Development
Mauricio Gomez Diaz

The U.S. government doubled NIH appropriations between 1998 and 2003, aiming to significantly foster research activities in biomedicine. However, several indicators demonstrate not only that the impact of the budget increase fell short of expectations; in many cases it resulted in unintended negative effects. Compared to pre‐doubling conditions, researchers now spend significantly more time writing grant proposals, impacting their ability to carry out research. Paradoxically, the probability with which a grant proposal is accepted for funding deteriorated sharply after the doubling and continues to fall. The average age of first‐time NIH grant recipients has increased by almost a decade since the early 70's, while the percentage of biomedical doctorates securing tenured or tenure‐track positions relentlessly drops. These trends represent a threat to the quality, stability, and availability of the U.S. biomedical research workforce. This study takes a system dynamics approach to test the hypothesis that a sudden and temporary increase in research funds can result in unintended long‐term effects hampering research discoveries and workforce development. A simulation model is therefore developed using the available literature and calibrated to replicate historical trends. The model is then used to perform experiments that test the effects of changes in certain parameters or policies. The outcomes of these experiments provide policy insights that can help improve the effectiveness of NIH funding and its impact on the workforce.


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Last edited by JH 05/23/2012