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Key Perspectives: Economics and Computational Science

In "Why Information Should Influence Productivity", Van Alstyne and Bulkley identify two distinct philosophies of picking out aspects of individual human behavior as a basis for organizational network theory.

Under one perspective, the basic unit of an organization is homo economicus - a perfectly rational decision maker in an uncertain world. From time to time she receives information that tells her which choices are more beneficial. Although the formal mapping between her behavioral inputs and outputs is well-defined, the actual processes that might lead from one to the other are normally omitted.

In contrast, one may adopt homo computicus as the building block of an organization. Homo computicus is isomorphic to a computer program. She operates on data via a set of algorithms that are available to her, trying to find a good solution within a short period of time. The information she receives may be either declarative (more, better data) or procedural (better algorithms).

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