Institute for Software Research
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Human and Organizational Risk Modeling:
Critical Personnel and Leadership in Network Organizations

Craig Schreiber

August 2006

Ph.D. Thesis


Keywords: Dynamic Network Analysis, social network analysis, multi-agent simulation, model validation, organization theory, network organization, organizational risk, critical personnel leadership, complexity theory

Network organizations offer learning, adaptive and resilient capabilities that are particularly useful in high velocity environments as these capabilities allow the organization to effectively respond to change. The dynamic, evolutionary nature of network organizations affords such advantageous capabilities. Although the advantages of network organizations are well-studied, the risks associated with them are not. Of interest is the study of critical personnel. Understanding criticality within an organization can help improve performance and protect against the risk of loss. But the study of critical personnel has traditionally used static structural representations that do not represent the dynamic nature of network organizations.

This thesis advances the study of critical personnel risks in network organizations by using Dynamic Network Analysis. Dynamic Network analysis is a methodology that incorporates both social network analysis and multi-agent simulation to represent structure and process the evolutionary nature of network organizations. Advances are made on two fronts. First, theory is developed about three dynamic risks related to critical personnel: intermittent availability, individual redundancy and shifts of critical personnel. These theories are built by using a reasoned computational approach that first validates the multi-agent simulation model and then creates forward grounded theory. Empirical data from two different network organizations are used to validate the model and build theory.

Second, the foundations for a Dynamic Network Analytic Theory of Network Organization Leadership are established. Leadership is a subset of critical personnel and the specific risks of network organization leadership need studied as well. But traditional leadership theory has limited applicability to high velocity contexts and network organizations. Consequently, there has been a call for a paradigm shift in leadership theory. The effective study of risks associated with network organization leadership will require a relevant paradigm and theory. This research developed a relevant paradigmatic framework and provided basic insight for a theory of network organization leadership.

178 pages

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