Paper Published: Towards Self-Organizing Bureaucracies

International Journal of Public Information Systems
Vol. 2008:1, pp. 1-24

Towards Self-Organizing Bureaucracies

Author: Carlos Gershenson

Keywords: eGovernment, self-organization, adaptation, communication, hierarchies

The goal of this paper is to contribute to eGovernment efforts, encouraging the use of self-organization as a method to improve the efficiency and adaptability of bureaucracies and similar social systems. Bureaucracies are described as networks of agents, where the main design principle is to reduce local "friction" to increase local and global "satisfaction". Following this principle, solutions are proposed for improving communication within bureaucracies, sensing public satisfaction, dynamic modification of hierarchies, and contextualization of procedures. Each of these reduces friction between agents (internal or external), increasing the efficiency of bureaucracies. Current technologies can be applied for this end. "Random agent networks" (RANs), novel computational models, are introduced to illustrate the benefits of self-organizing bureaucracies. Simulations show that only few changes are required to reach near-optimal performance, potentially adapting quickly and effectively to shifts in demand.

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