The Knowledge Engineering Review

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A survey of multi-agent organizational paradigms

a1 Multi-Agent Systems Lab, Department of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA; E-mail:,

Article author query
horling b   [Google Scholar] 
lesser v   [Google Scholar] 


Many researchers have demonstrated that the organizational design employed by an agent system can have a significant, quantitative effect on its performance characteristics. A range of organizational strategies have emerged from this line of research, each with different strengths and weaknesses. In this article we present a survey of the major organizational paradigms used in multi-agent systems. These include hierarchies, holarchies, coalitions, teams, congregations, societies, federations, markets, and matrix organizations. We will provide a description of each, discuss their advantages and disadvantages, and provide examples of how they may be instantiated and maintained. This summary will facilitate the comparative evaluation of organizational styles, allowing designers to first recognize the spectrum of possibilities, and then guiding the selection of an appropriate organizational design for a particular domain and environment.