Archive for December 20th, 2014

Norms and scenario alignment in organizations

Research Themes: Flexibility of Organizations, Processes, and Information Systems / Requirements, Models, and Specifications / Scenario development and Simulation


Business rules and contracts are crucial artifacts for the definition of the organizational institution: they formally prescribe the roles of internal and of external components of the organization. On the other hand, user cases – concerning happy-flow activities and known failure scenarios – provide descriptive behavioural representations of the underlying socio-economic interactions.
Our group is currently working on leveraging interactional interpretations of the fundamental concepts at stake in normative expressions (obligation, power, etc., recently organized in the “Hohfeldian prisms”), in order to fill the gap between rules, business process models and intentional representations of behaviour.

We aim to introduce scenario-based modeling/design methodologies, already established in software and system engineering, in the IT & organization domain. Potential applications consist of integrating use-cases for policy/design validation, contract drafting and negotiation, failure (including fraud) prevention and detection, analysis of reward/punishment design patterns, etc. Part of the research is developed and tested in partnership with other organizations.

Given the complexity of the quest, various abstractions are possible, addressing different aspects of the problem. There is room for 5-6 students, with separate objectives and theses, but elaborating on the same conceptual framework. This is a not exhaustive list of topics concerning the research:

  • transformation of rule representations to visual representations (e.g. Petri-Nets)
  • integration of normative positions in Petri-Nets and in BPMN, and relative transformations
  • reconstructing Petri-Nets or BPMN from actual cases
  • conception of user-interfaces:
    • integrating the Hohfeldian prisms in contract modeling,
    • integrating the Hohfeldian prisms in scenario modeling,
  • integrating the intentional stance in scenario modeling
  • conception of an execution/visualization engine for scenarios
  • analysis and visualization of punishment and reward design patterns
  • analysis of the topological transformations of a Petri-Net (from cohesion to coupling)
  • transformations of topological representations to agent programs
  • evaluation of the proposed UI/visualizations with experts in organizations

The specific subject will depend on personal motivation, skills, and previous knowledge.


Alexander Boer,, Leibniz Center for Law
Giovanni Sileno,, Leibniz Center for Law


  • Sileno, G., Boer, A., & van Engers, T. (2014). On the Interactional Meaning of Fundamental Legal Concepts. In Proceedings 27th International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems (JURIX 2014).
  • Boer, A., & Engers, T. (2013). Agile: a problem-based model of regulatory policy making. Artificial Intelligence and Law, 21(4), 399–423.
  • Sileno, G., Boer, A., & van Engers, T. (2014). From Inter-Agent to Intra-Agent Representations: Mapping Social Scenarios to Agent-Role Descriptions. In Proceedings 6th International Conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence (ICAART 2014).
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  • J.-F. Raskin, Y.-H. Tan, and L. van der Torre. How to model normative behavior in Petri nets. Proceedings of the 2nd ModelAge: Workshop on Formal Models of Agents, pages 223—241, 1996.
  • Van Der Aalst, W. M. P. (1998). The Application of Petri Nets To Workflow Management. Journal of Circuits, Systems and Computers, 08(01), 21–66.
  • Fahland, D., Lübke, D., & Mendling, J. (2009). Declarative versus imperative process modeling languages: The issue of understandability. Proceeding EMMSAD ’09. (2009) 353-366, 353–366.
  • T. Murata. Petri nets: Properties, analysis and applications. Proceedings of the IEEE, 77(4), 1989

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