Group Dynamics in Resource Management

  • Jwen Fai Low

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The degree by which a group reaches an outcome that deviates from what is expected of them has far reaching implications for any sustainability problem which requires joint-e_ort, such as the management of _sheries and forests. Should a group exhibit positive synergy, they work well together and achieve a greater outcome than what they usually are capable of, while the reverse holds true should they exhibit negative synergy. Developing an understanding of group dynamics would allow us to identify poorly performing groups or create coalitions of agents which are optimized to maximize or minimize the outcome of some sustainability problem. To provide a quantitative basis for evaluating synergy, we sought out and evaluated a number of measures capable of giving a number to a coalition to represent the level of synergy found in that coalition. We found the domain-independent Synergy Index measure as the one most capable of illuminating dynamics within a group and subsequently used it to study a variety of domains, which include those with agents exhibiting self-agency and those which don't. A benchmark synergy measure was developed to serve as a sanity-check for the _ndings obtained via the Synergy Index. Network analysis was performed where applicable. We sought out patterns which are common to more than one domain to understand the factors involved in synergy that are not domain-speci_c. From our investigation, proximity, physical or otherwise, emerged as the key inuencing factor of a group's synergy. In terms of surpassing expectations of the average agent in creating quality and achieving success, we found that few agents are capable of either feat, and little overlap exists between those agents who prove themselves able in one.
Date of AwardMay 2015
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorTalal Rahwan (Supervisor)


  • Resources management
  • Group dynamics
  • Group synergy
  • Evaluating Synergy.

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