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A Primer for Agent-Based Modeling in Public Administration: Exploring Complexity in “Would-Be” Administrative Worlds

Author: L. DOUGLAS KIEL
Published in PAQ, Vol. 29 No. 3

This paper explores the basic elements of Agent-Based Models
and the implications of this simulation approach for public
administration research. The general principles of agent-based
modeling are examined with particular attention to the elements of
simple rules and emergent behavior. Graphical representations from an
agent-based model are provided. Issues of the appropriate application
of agent-based modeling are presented. The notion of bureaucracy from
the “bottom-up”, or generative public administration, is offered as a
means for understanding how the actions of various heterogeneous
agents may generate emergent structure and organization. Agent-based
modeling provides a novel means for exploring complexity while
adding considerable insight into assumptions of rationality and
cooperation among human agents.

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