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Qualitative Reasoning beyond the Physics Domain: The Density Dependence Theory of Organizational Ecology
 Proceedings of QR95
, 1995
"... Abstract: Qualitative reasoning is traditionally associated with the domain of physics, although the domain of application is, in fact, much broader. This paper investigates the application of qualitative reasoning beyond the domain of physics. It presents a case study of application in the social s ..."
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Abstract: Qualitative reasoning is traditionally associated with the domain of physics, although the domain of application is, in fact, much broader. This paper investigates the application of qualitative reasoning beyond the domain of physics. It presents a case study of application in the social sciences: the density dependence theory of organizational ecology. It discusses how the different nature of soft science domains will complicate the process of model building. Furthermore, it shows that the “model building ” process can also help making theoretically important decisions, and, as a result, have an impact on the original theory. This will require a shift in focus from the “model simulation ” process towards the “model building ” process. 1
On criteria for formal theory building: Applying logic and automated reasoning tools to the social sciences
 In Proc. AAAI’99
, 1999
"... This paper provides practical operationalizations of criteria for evaluating scientific theories, such as the consistency and falsifiability of theories and the soundness of inferences, that take into account definitions. The precise formulation of these criteria is tailored to the use of automated ..."
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This paper provides practical operationalizations of criteria for evaluating scientific theories, such as the consistency and falsifiability of theories and the soundness of inferences, that take into account definitions. The precise formulation of these criteria is tailored to the use of automated theorem provers and automated model generators—generic tools from the field of automated reasoning. The use of these criteria is illustrated by applying them to a first order logic representation of a classic organization theory, Thompson’s Organizations in Action.
Reducing uncertainty: A formal theory of Organizations in Action
 American Journal of Sociology
, 1999
"... This article presents a formal reconstruction of James D. Thompson’s classic contribution to organization theory, Organizations in Action. The reconstruction explicates the underlying argumentation structure for Thompson’s propositions—literally, theorems or problems to be demonstrated. This allows ..."
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This article presents a formal reconstruction of James D. Thompson’s classic contribution to organization theory, Organizations in Action. The reconstruction explicates the underlying argumentation structure for Thompson’s propositions—literally, theorems or problems to be demonstrated. This allows Thompson’s propositions to be derived as theorems in a deductive theory. As it turns out, the formal theory is based on general assumptions using only few primitive concepts. In addition, this theory explains why Thompson’s propositions do not hold for noncomplex or “atomic ” organizations (a restriction on the domain of application). Furthermore, this study reveals that organizations attempt to reduce constraints in their environment—a heretofore unknown implication of the theory.
The TPTP Problem Library (TPTP v2.1.0
 Department of Computer Science, James Cook University
, 1997
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Toward a game theory of organizational ecology: production adjustment costs and managerial growth preferences
, 2003
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In defense of unrealistic assumptions
 Sociological Theory
, 1998
"... I argue that a theory’s assumptions always are and ought to be unrealistic. Further, we should attempt to make them more unrealistic in order to increase a theory’s fruitfulness. Many sociologists believe that a theory’s assumptions ought to be empirically realistic. I contend that this criticism pr ..."
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I argue that a theory’s assumptions always are and ought to be unrealistic. Further, we should attempt to make them more unrealistic in order to increase a theory’s fruitfulness. Many sociologists believe that a theory’s assumptions ought to be empirically realistic. I contend that this criticism probably stems from the confusion of a theory’s assumptions with its scope conditions. While Friedman’s (1953) similar prescription is associated with the instrumentalist philosophy of science, I maintain that it is also consistent with the realist view if “unrealistic ” is taken to mean “incomplete ” rather than “untrue. ” I discuss a recent theory of the value of children by Friedman, Hechter, and Kanazawa (1994) to point out how assumptions differ from scope conditions and how empirically plausible and realistic hypotheses can be logically deduced from highly unrealistic assumptions. I then discuss Kollock’s (1993a, 1993b) revision of Axelrod’s (1984) Cooperation Theory as an example of when assumptions need to be revised. There is consensus among social scientists that a theory’s assumptions ought to be empirically realistic. Because this is so, a potent criticism of a theory is to point out that its assumptions are unrealistic. This is the tack, among others, that critics often take to fault
The logic of organizational markets: Thinking through resource partitioning theory
 Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory
, 2001
"... Resource partitioning theory claims that “Increasing concentration enhances the life chances of specialist organizations. ” We systematically think through this theory, specify implicit background assumptions, sharpen concepts, and rigorously check the theory’s logic. As a result, we increase the ..."
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Resource partitioning theory claims that “Increasing concentration enhances the life chances of specialist organizations. ” We systematically think through this theory, specify implicit background assumptions, sharpen concepts, and rigorously check the theory’s logic. As a result, we increase the theory’s explanatory power, and claim— contrary to received opinion—that under certain general conditions, “resource partitioning ” and the proliferation of specialists can take place independently of organizational mass and relative size effects, size localized competition, diversifying consumer tastes, increasing number of dimensions of the resource space, and changing niche widths. Our analysis makes furthermore clear that specialist and generalist strategies are asymmetric, and shows that not concentration enhances the life chances of specialists but economies of scale instead. Under the conditions explicated, we argue that if scale economies come to dominate, the number of organizations in the population increases, regardless of the incumbents ’ sizes. Key words: theory reconstruction; resource partitioning; competition; market concentration; economies of scale; niche; specialization; organizational ecology; logical formalization; applied logic. ∗We are grateful to Jaap Kamps, Michael Masuch, Patricia Thornton, and Jelka Hopster for their helpful comments on an earlier version, and to Glenn Carroll, Gábor Péli, Arjen van Witteloostuijn and Christophe Boone for discussions about resource partitioning. 1 1
Formal Theory Building Using Automated Reasoning Tools
"... The merits of representing scientific theories in formal logic are wellknown. Expressing a scientific theory in formal logic explicates the theory as a whole, and the logic provides formal criteria for evaluating the theory, such as soundness and consistency. On the one hand, these criteria corresp ..."
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The merits of representing scientific theories in formal logic are wellknown. Expressing a scientific theory in formal logic explicates the theory as a whole, and the logic provides formal criteria for evaluating the theory, such as soundness and consistency. On the one hand, these criteria correspond to natural questions to be asked about the theory: is the theory contradictionfree? (is the theory logically consistent?) is the theoretical argumentation valid? (can a theorem be soundly derived from the premises?) and other such questions. On the other hand, testing for these criteria amounts to making many specific proof attempts or model searches: respectively, does the theory have a model? can we find a proof of a particular theorem? As a result, testing for these criteria quickly defies manual processing. Fortunately, automated reasoning provides some valuable tools for this endeavor. This paper discusses the use of firstorder logic and existing automated reasoning tools for formal theory building, and illustrates this with a case study of a social science theory, Hage’s axiomatic theory of organizations. 1
I am grateful to Tom Fararo for helpful comments. Individual Adaptations to Cultural Contradictions: Using NonMonotonic Logic to Reconstruct Merton’s Theory of Anomie
, 2004
"... Abstract. Merton’s (1957) theory of anomie contains a classic sociological analysis of individual adaptations to cultural contradictions. The present paper uses nonmonotonic logic to formalize Merton’s microlevel analysis. I show that the adaptations of innovation, ritualism, and retreatism corres ..."
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Abstract. Merton’s (1957) theory of anomie contains a classic sociological analysis of individual adaptations to cultural contradictions. The present paper uses nonmonotonic logic to formalize Merton’s microlevel analysis. I show that the adaptations of innovation, ritualism, and retreatism correspond to different extensions of a level default theory. My formalization makes explicit the importance of the selfconcept in Merton’s theory, and links the rebellion adaptation to a dynamic model of selfconcept formation. 1