The Nature and Role of Complex Systems Theory and Methods in Marketing Research and Education

Honorary Professor Ian Wilkinson; Fabian Held, PhD Candidate, Discipline of Marketing, The University of Sydney Business School

5th Aug 2011  02:00 pm - Darlington School Building Room 11

Computational social science is a fledging  interdisciplinary field at the intersection of the social sciences,  computational science, and complexity science It is an umbrella term for  diverse new ways of analysis and understanding of social phenomena with the aid  of computer-intensive methods. Amongst these tools are social network analysis,  automated text analysis and information extraction systems, social geographic  information systems and agent-based modelling. The purpose of this presentation  is to provide an overview of complex systems research and theory and the  associated research methodology of agent-based modelling (ABM).  We  explain and illustrate its relevance and importance to the development of  marketing theory and research, with a particular emphasis on building ABM on  distribution systems and business networks.

ABM  is a form of mathematical modelling of complex systems. An ABM can be written  down as a set of mathematical equations. But, because they are trying to  develop more realistic and fine-grained models of complex systems the equations  of motion of the system are necessarily highly nonlinear, involving numerous  interaction and order effects and non-proportional impacts of factors.  In  other words they cannot be decomposed into a set of simpler component systems,  whose equations can be solved by traditional means. The behaviour of the system  as a whole is more than the sum of the behaviour of the component systems.