What We Do


Activities of the Edge Center

The Edge Center engages currently in three primary activities: 1) research, 2) outreach, and 3) Center development.

Research – this represents the focal task of the Center. Six interrelated research projects are in work currently.

  1. Research Area 1 – Organization Design. Research in this area seeks to understand how to apply principles of organization, management and technological integration to design collectivities (e.g., groups, teams, tribes, organizations, networks, fields) to fit well in terms of changing environments, strategies, technologies and like contingencies. We are interested in particular in organization design to maintain dynamic fit over time, to balance organization stability with maneuverability, and to enhance the ability of leaders and managers to maintain control over highly maneuverable (and unstable) organizations (see Nissen & Burton 2011).
  2. Research Area 2 – Knowledge Dynamics. Research in this area seeks to understand how knowledge (i.e., operationalized as enabling action) flows from where and when it is to where and when it is needed. This work embraces the social construction of knowledge but accepts the objective perspective also, and it views knowledge stocking and flowing at multiple, interrelated levels of analysis (e.g., individual, group, team, tribe, organization, network, field). We are interested in particular in the disparate dynamics of tacit and explicit knowledge flows, especially where corresponding principles, applications and tools can be employed to support dynamic organization for sustainable competitive advantage (see Nissen 2006), and the measurement of dynamic knowledge and performance remains an important concern.
  3. Research Area 3 – Autonomy. Research in this area seeks to understand how to design, develop, integrate and organize autonomous systems (e.g., “intelligent” agents, artifacts, bio-organisms, cyber capabilities, machines, robots, vehicles). This work embraces the biological, computational, physical and social sciences, and it seeks to leverage their principles and empiric foundations to inform multidisciplinary design. We are interested in particular in integrating autonomous systems into organizations of and via mutually cooperative and productive interrelations with people.
  4. Research Area 4 – Virtual Environments. Research in this area seeks to understand how to organize, manage and integrate technology in and through virtual environments (e.g., clouds, cyberspace, networks, social media, virtual game and social worlds) in lieu of and in conjunction with physical environments (e.g., attribution, face-to-face interaction, physical collocation). We are interested in particular in identifying, designing and integrating virtual environments that can enhance the experiences of organization, management and technological integration (e.g., in terms of increased acceptance, efficacy, enjoyment).
  5. Research Area 5 – Research Methods and Tools. Research in this area seeks to identify, master, incorporate and integrate methods and tools capable of facilitating and enhancing systematic knowledge development. We embrace qualitative and quantitative research alike, accept interpretivist and positivist epistemologies equally, and understand how a stubby pencil and cocktail napkin can sometimes be equally or more timely and effective than the most sophisticated computational methods and tools can. Nonetheless, we see great potential in computational tools (e.g., POW-ER) to develop and analyze multiple, virtual, collectivity prototypes (e.g., groups, teams, tribes, organizations, networks, fields) to support the design of organizations in conjunction with autonomous systems, in addition to instrumented testbeds for computational, laboratory and field experimentation (e.g., ELICIT, TNT). We are interested in particular in integrating other, complementary, research methods and tools to facilitate and enhance our work through the Edge Center.
  6. Research Area 6 – Emerging Research. Research in this area seeks to promote emerging research that may not be described well within the areas above and to catalyze innovation further beyond the innovative areas under investigation currently.

Outreach – this represents an important focus of the Center. The goal is to reach out to top-tier academic institutions, with the idea of engaging top faculty and graduate students in Edge Center research, and to leaders and managers in military, government, commercial and non-profit organizations, with the idea of helping them to organize competitively. The Center also seeks collaborative research opportunities with highly capable people and institutions.

Center Development – this represents the small infrastructural part of the Center. A center identity, reflecting the multidisciplinary, multi-university, multi-year, virtual nature of the Center is established, developed and marketed.


Select References

Alberts, D.S. & Hayes, R.E., Power to the Edge: Command and Control in the Information Age Washington, DC: Command and Control Research Program (2003).

ELICIT: Experimental Laboratory to Investigate Collaboration, Information sharing and Trust; see http://www.dodccrp.org/html4/elicit.html.

Nissen, M.E., Harnessing Knowledge Dynamics: Principled Organizational Knowing & Learning Hershey, PA: IRM Press (2006).

Nissen, M.E. and Burton, R.M., "Designing Organizations for Dynamic Fit: System Stability, Maneuverability and Opportunity Loss," IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics – Part A 41:3 (May 2011), pp. 418-433.

POW-ER: Projects, Organizations and Work for Edge Research; see “POW-ER” page on this site.