Organisation - Prof. Thorbjørn Knudsen

This unit, Origins and evolution of the social organization, is identified with the Strategic Organization Design Unit (SOD), which builds on a long research tradition associated with the evolutionary and behavioral program in economics and organizational science.
In 2008, SOD was established as the first FSE research unit by The Danish Council for Independent Research in the Social Sciences (FSE), and in 2011 received the status of an elite unit at the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences at the University of Southern Denmark.

We aim to exploit tight integration of cycles of theory development and laboratory experiments in our quest to understand two fundamental problems of economic and social organization: the aggregation problem and the adaptation problem.
Organizational aggregation. Individual actions jointly generate organizational performance in the aggregate. But how does the design of organization structure - comprising a multi-agent system organized in a hierarchy of multiple levels - influence aggregate performance? Progress in this area is essential in order to develop a robust normative theory of organization design - and to understand how decisions regarding organization design influence performance of private and public organizations.
Organizational adaptation. In an increasingly global and dynamic world, our economic systems, financial institutions and social organizations must adapt, but how? The scientific knowledge about adaptation in social organizations is inadequate because we lack a basic understanding of the micro-processes that determine adaptive costs (and benefits) as well as the costs of enduring mis-adaptation. This is critical for at least two reasons. Firstly, because the empirical evidence indicates an enormous scale of waste associated with both reorganizing and disposing of existing social organizations. Secondly, because handling of a crisis in any organization depends on deep knowledge about the pros and cons of alternative modes of adaptation (regarding timing, scaling, and structuring of change).
Given a lack of scientific knowledge on how social organizations best cope with change - and the fundamental importance of this problem in a changing world - we aim to understand the determinants of adaptive efficiency in social organizations. Following a common use in the natural sciences, we label the property of efficient adaptation as plasticity. This line of work will identify mechanisms governing multi-level adaptation in changing environments and thereby allow researchers to determine when a self-tuning, multi-level approach to adaptation is superior to a market-based trial-and-error approach. We thereby provide theoretical foundations for the design of organizations that can benefit from change by minimizing the costs and negative externalities of mis-adaptationection
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