Monash University
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The Application of Local Rules in Self Ordering Systems

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-06-07, 02:42 authored by Haslett, Tim, Moss, Simon, Osborne, Charles, Ramm, Paul
This paper examines the imposition of "local rules" in the mail sorting rooms of Australia Post. Local rules are patterns of behaviour at a micro-organizational level. They are used where "attempts (by an organizational subunit) to optimize its own selfish benefit, even if that is harmful to the whole, can the welfare of the whole organization." (Kauffman, 1995). Fitness landscapes and classifier networks are used to examine the emergence of local rules in the workplace. Mail sorting rates shows a clear catastrophe shift as PDOs apply local rules to maximise gains inherent in the pay structures. Such behaviour is close to that predicted by Kauffman in computer simulations of lattices and may be indicative of the application of local rules in organizations. The implications are that behaviour in social systems may be dictated by systemic and emergent processes which are outside immediate management control. A further implication is that organizations may be structured, to a significant extent by such local rules.


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Department of Management.

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