PhD Graduation of Sjoukje Osinga - 22 April 2015

Published on
April 15, 2015

Sjoukje Osinga will defend her dissertation titled 'The knowledge management arena: agent-based modelling of the pig sector' on Wednesday 22 April 2015.

The defense will take place at 16.00h at the Aula of Wageningen University.

Promoter: A.J.M. Beulens 
Copromoter: G.J. Hofstede 


Complex adaptive systems are characterized by multiple levels of behaviour: the behaviour of individual components and the behaviour of the entire system. In this thesis we study this relationship by means of agent-based models. By modelling individuals (agents) and their behaviour only, and simulating this behaviour over time, we generate emerging patterns: we did not explicitly put them in. We try to understand these patterns by reasoning back to individual level (multi-level analysis).

Our application domain is knowledge management in the pig sector. Through a series of cases, we study the relationship between farmers’ decision outcomes and their implications for the sector (bottom-up), and, vice versa, the relationship between sector-wide interventions and their effect on farmers’ decision outcomes (top-down). Farmers make the decision of which quality market to supply their pigs to (agent level). As outcome, we observe the spectrum of emerging quality market shares (sector level). Knowledge is assumed to be a prerequisite for market entry, which diffuses through the population. We develop our agent-based models and the representation of knowledge throughout the thesis. Our final model is applicable to not only the pig sector, but to any sector with autonomous suppliers who need to make decisions based on criteria to be matched.

A secondary aim of this thesis is methodological: to convey the merits of applying agent-based modelling to this type of multi-level research problem. We apply multi-level analysis to seek explanations for emergent patterns in terms of individual farmer behaviour.