A Research Agenda for Self-Organizing Ecosystems: The Case for Maritime Informatics
49 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2015 Last revised: 31 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 4, 2015
Shipping, an important factor in the operation of the world economy is a digital age laggard. Digitization can make it more efficient, sustainable, and safer. For IS researchers this domain is also relatively unexplored, and there are opportunities for IS scholars to provide theoretical advances in describing, modeling, and redesigning the maritime ecosystem. This article introduces a research agenda for maritime informatics. Building on complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory, capital creation systems thinking, and episodic tight coupling, the maritime industry is conceived as a self-organizing ecosystem (SOE). In an SOE, autonomous organizations emerge to meet the various needs of a central, but not coordinating, entity. A systematic approach is applied to develop eight research questions about SOEs, based on three of their major characteristics identified by network analysis, namely (1) An SOE is an aggregation of agents whose diverse capabilities are identified by tags; (2) Actions by agents, both intentional and unintentional, change an ecosystem’s environment and can have non-linear effects on other agents, including the initiating agent; (3) As part of the capital creation process, agents episodically tightly couple to create physical and informational flows and capital. System dynamics and object orientation are applied to provide validity for, and to suggest methods for answering the research questions. These questions provide a grounding for maritime informatics research, as well as exploring SOEs generally.
Keywords: Self-organizing ecosystems, maritime informatics, capital creation, episodic tight coupling, research agenda
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