Normative design of congruent, robust and adaptive organizations: Modeling concepts and optimization algorithms

Date of Completion

January 2003


Engineering, System Science|Operations Research




The primary purpose of this research has been to develop a systems engineering methodology for modeling missions and for synthesizing the concomitant optimal (also termed congruent), robust and adaptive organizations. An organization is said to be congruent with its mission if its structure and processes are matched to the mission. Our working hypothesis (which was proven empirically) was that an organization designed to optimize a set of objectives, that are consistent with the mission goals, would have the best performance. Therefore, such a structure is the most congruent with the mission among all possible organizations operating under the same environmental conditions and business logic. A robust organization is able to sustain high levels of performance in dynamic environments without having to change its structure. An adaptive organization is able to generate new strategies and/or reconfigure its structure to potentially achieve even higher performance. ^ This work provides mathematical formulations for optimization problems arising in various phases of our organizational design process, and algorithms to solve the corresponding problems. Our organizational design methodology applies specific optimization techniques at different phases of the design, efficiently matching the structure of a mission environment to that of an organization. It allows an analyst to obtain an acceptable trade-off among multiple mission and design objectives, as well as between computational complexity and solution efficiency (desired degree of sub-optimality). ^ This thesis has made four major contributions to the design of congruent, robust and adaptive organizations. The first contribution is the development of a three-phase iterative design process to create an optimal organizational structure for a specified mission and organizational constraints. The second contribution is the extension of design process to synthesize robust and adaptive organizations that are suitable for dynamic and uncertain environments. The third major contribution of the thesis is the scheduling of information flows in organizations. The final contribution is the experimental validation of congruence theories in a laboratory setting, viz., that the better an organization is matched to its mission, the better will that organization perform. ^