Friday, August 8, 2008

PhD Scholarship

PhD Scholarship in **Agent-Based Modeling of Business Relations and

*ARC Agent-Based Modeling of Business Relations and Networks grant*

*School of Marketing, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia*


Applications are invited for a scholarship to undertake a PhD in the School
of Marketing at the Australian School of Business at the University of New
South Wales.

The research will form part of an Australian Research Council
funded project to develop agent-based models of the development and
evolution of business relations and networks in industrial markets.

The successful applicant will work under the supervision of the research
project’s Chief Investigators: Professor Ian Wilkinson of the School of
Marketing and Professor Robert Marks of the Australian Graduate School of
Management and School of Economics at the University of New South Wales and
Professor Louise Young of the School of Marketing at the University of
Technology Sydney. These are leading international researchers in the area
of business marketing and economics with extensive backgrounds in the study
of business relations and networks, as well as expertise in modeling. They
have strong links with prominent researchers in the agent-based modeling
field around the world.

*S**kills and Qualifications* * Required*

We are looking for a person with high-level computer science qualifications
(First or Upper Second Class honours or equivalent) and skills, especially
in the area of agent-based modeling, to work on the project. This would
include expertise in object-oriented programming languages, such as Java
and/or C++. We would give preference to an applicant who also had some
high-level disciplinary-relevant knowledge and educational qualifications in
marketing, business, economics or another relevant discipline. Because a
combination of relevant computer science skills and disciplinary knowledge
is rare, our primary focus is on the computing skills plus a willingness to
apply these in the area of business. This may mean that the successful
applicant will be required to undertake a program of study to equip them
with necessary disciplinary knowledge to undertake the research and to
fulfill the requirements of a PhD in the School of Marketing. High-level
communication and writing skills in English are also essential.

*The scholarship is available for local and international students* for
three years full-time enrolment in the PhD program and provides the scholar
with a tax-exempt stipend of up to AUD$30,000 per annum.

The successful candidate would be expected to commence the PhD at the
beginning of 2009.

*To apply,* please submit your CV, academic transcripts, a summary of your
research interests and strengths related to the research and two academic
referee reports to Professor Ian F. Wilkinson

*Further Enquiries*

Please contact Professor Ian F. Wilkinson
Professor Bob Marks (** ) or Professor
Louise Young (** ) for further
information. Additional information may be also be found on the University’s
and School of Marketing’s websites (**,
** ).

*ARC2008 Phd Scholarship in Agent Based Modelling of Business Relations and
Networks: Additional Information*

*a) Chief Investigators and their Roles*

*Professor Ian F. Wilkinson*

Professor Wilkinson has played a leading role in introducing concepts and
methods from the complexity sciences into marketing and in developing models
of market and network dynamics. In 2005 he was an invited keynote speaker at
the American Antitrust Institute workshop on Complexity and Antitrust. He
was educated in the UK and Australia and has held academic posts at various
universities, including: UC Berkeley, Bath, Cincinnati, Temple, Lancaster,
Stockholm School of Economics and the University of International Business
and Economics Beijing. His current research focuses the development and
management of interfirm relations and networks in domestic and international
business and the dynamics of markets and industrial networks. This work is
being carried out in cooperation with various researchers in Asia, Europe
and USA and is funded by ARC research grants. In 2005 he received the
Distinguished Researcher of the Year Award from the Australia New Zealand
Marketing Academy.

*Professor Robert E. Marks*

Professor Marks is a pioneering economist in the use of agent-based
modelling. For the past twenty years his research has focused on the use of
simulation in general, and agent-based simulation in particular, to analyse
market interactions that would otherwise remain unexplained, such as
oligopolistic behaviour in markets where brands compete, and supermarkets
moderate their rivalry. He has made contributions to theory, application,
and teaching, using genetic algorithms and other tools from computer
science, not just to analyse, but also to synthesise, to design. His
research has been supported by ARC funding for some years. Most recently, he
has been applying techniques from complexity theory to the problem of
validating simulation models in general, and agent-based models in
particular. He has been a visiting professor at universities in Taiwan, the
U.S. (Stanford, UC Berkeley, and M.I.T.), and France (INSEAD).

*Professor Louise Young*

Professor Young is an expert in the social processes embedded in
relationships and networks, in particular trust, including their emergence
and evolution. Her research focus is cross-disciplinary and multi-method,
including computer-aided semantic analysis of interview and secondary text,
social network mapping, relational marketing, complexity/evolution, social
influence and collaborative groupings in a range of contexts. A major focus
of her current research is on the evolution and management of business
relationships and networks and in particular on the ways the psychology of
the individuals participating in these impacts on relation and network
functioning. Her work is carried out in collaboration with researchers in
Australasia, Europe and America, is supported by ARC research grants and has
been published in a range of business and social journals. She was educated
in the USA and Australia and has held visiting appointments at various
universities, including Bath, Cincinnati, Lancaster, Stockholm School of
Economics, Southern Denmark, and the University of International Business
and Economics Beijing.

*b)* * Aims and Background of the Research Project:*

*Title: “Modeling the Development and Evolution of Business Relations and
Networks as Complex Adaptive Systems using Agent-Based Models”*

The development of collaborative relations and networks among and within
firms is increasingly recognised as an important source of competitive
advantage. These also present problems and challenges for managers and
policy makers because relations and networks are not directed and controlled
by individual firms or government but are examples of complex adaptive
systems that self-organise over time through the micro interactions and
processes taking place. This is because business relations and networks are
a part of the extended enterprise of a firm; a form of collective mind with
associated skills, resources, knowledge and competences that both enable and
constrain what those involved can do, see, know, learn and think.

*A major gap in the literature exists* *in terms of theory and
evidence about the way business relations and networks develop and evolve
over time and the role managers and government can play in influencing this
in productive ways*, despite* * substantial past research*.* Most research
and theory to date has been dominated by comparative-static, variance-based,
survey-type approaches to describing and explaining relationship and network
behaviour and performance, which ignore temporal processes, including
development and evolution, interaction and order effects, and feedback
effects. A special issue of the *Academy of Management Review* in 2006
echoes these concerns and the underdeveloped nature of research on the
temporal and process dimensions of relations and networks, highlighting the
importance of additional research in this area.

The aim of this research is to build agent-based models (ABM) of
business relationship and network development and evolution as complex
adaptive systems that:

- Integrate the main psychological, social, managerial, economic and
other mechanisms operating, as identified in existing theories, and through
systematic narrative event history mapping of a sample of actual business
relationship and network histories.
- Are capable of reproducing the stylised patterns of development and
evolution of actual business relations and networks;
- Can systematically examine the kinds of relationship and network
attractors that exist in different circumstances and their sensitivity to
starting conditions and other factors;
- Can be used to examine the roles of managers and government in shaping
patterns of development and evolution and to help design more effective
intervention and participation strategies.

Our approach explains in the sense of Herbert Simon, “to ‘explain’ an
empirical regularity is to discover a set of simple mechanisms that would
produce the former in any system governed by the later.” Similarly,
Epstein, in his recent book *Generative Social Science*, argues that to grow
(or generate) is to explain. To accomplish our goals we will use
cutting-edge theories and methodologies that the Chief Investgators are
expert in and make use of the results of prior research carried out by them
regarding actual business relationships and networks to inform and test the
models developed. These models will integrate a diverse set of mechanisms
and processes driving relationship and network development, including novel
features such as* multi-level group selection mechanisms* and *structural
balance, * whose importance has only recently been appreciated.