Simulation models of organisational systems
by Henry E. Islo
International Journal of Technology Management (IJTM), Vol. 21, No. 3/4, 2001

Abstract: Organisational systems are complex systems, which are very dependent on the continuous supportive efforts of trained people. At the same time, the complexity of these systems transcends the capacity of individual engineers or groups of engineers. The construction and operation of medium to large organisational systems therefore requires the use of advanced computerised aids. The intensity and importance of human activity in these systems implies that the computerised aids must help to integrate human factors into the system structure as well as helping to design the more traditional aspects such as information flow, logistics, physical production, databases and the like. Simulation models are very powerful, broad and flexible tools to this end if applied systematically during the lifetime of the organisational system. An intuitive description of process oriented discrete event simulation is given for readers unfamiliar with this form of simulation modelling. The paper then continues with a description of how models of organisational systems can be organised, wherein human factors find a natural place within the virtual actors that represent human beings. Human factors in an organisation have a most central concept, which is the human ability to construct mental models. Through utilisation of mental models of different aspects of reality, employees are able to predict and influence future sequences of events. This imparts a sense of understanding of the situation or problem at hand. Mental models, which are constructed on the basis of knowledge and experience, are considered insightful and lead to actions, which are seen as constructive, skilful and productive. These mental models are called cognitive models since they are the result of the individual's total psychological and physiological condition. Well-made cognitive models are a precondition for success in learning and using technical systems as well as a prerequisite for achieving good social relations. Briefly, well-trimmed cognitive models spell success at work and in private life. Simulation models of organisational systems can form the basis of advanced computerised aids used in the design and operation of organisational systems. They are able to integrate human factors with information processing and with transport and refinement of material all in the same dynamic model. Such simulation models are in harmony with the natural thought processes used by humans, especially when they are dealing with complex systems.

Online publication date: Tue, 08-Jul-2003

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