Computational Experimentation with the Virtual Design Team: Bridging the Chasm between Laboratory and Field Research in C2
Nissen, Mark E.
Buettner, Raymond R.
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A chasm exists between laboratory and field methods in C2 research. These methods are complementary but used rarely in combination. This expository article describes a research approach that bridges such chasm: computational experimentation. Computational experimentation mitigates the weakness of both laboratory and field research, yet it has its own limitations and appears suited best as a complement and not a replacement. To illustrate the power and potential of computational experimentation, we describe an implemented agent-based modeling environment called VDT. VDT benefits from accumulated research over two decades and extensive external validation. We employ this modeling environment to represent and emulate the behavior of a high-level C2 organization. Using a full-factorial experimental design, we illustrate computational experimentation through controlled manipulation of key factors associated with organizational and technological design (i.e., bureaucracy level, coordination load, knowledge inventory). This illustration includes discussion of rich operationalized constructs used to characterize a diversity of C2 organizations, task environments and performance measures. The experimental results highlight complex interactions between design factors, and they suggest fundamental tension and decision tradeoffs between important performance measures such as mission duration and risk. The article closes with key conclusions, implications for C2 in practice today, and suggestions for future research.
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