Optimal Information Transmission in Organizations: Search and Congestion Articles uri icon

publication date

  • March 2010

start page

  • 75

end page

  • 93


  • 1-2


  • 14

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1434-4742

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1434-4750


  • We propose a stylized model of a problem-solving organization whose internal communication structure is given by a fixed network. Problems arrive randomly anywhere in this network and must find their way to
    their respective specialized solvers by relying on local information
    alone. The organization handles multiple problems simultaneously. For
    this reason, the process may be subject to congestion. We provide a
    characterization of the threshold of collapse of the network and of the
    stock of floating problems (or average delay) that prevails below that
    threshold. We build upon this characterization to address a design
    problem: the determination of what kind of network architecture
    optimizes performance for any given problem arrival rate. We conclude
    that, for low arrival rates, the optimal network is very polarized (i.e.
    star-like or centralized), whereas it is largely homogenous (or
    decentralized) for high arrival rates. These observations are in line
    with a common transformation experienced by information-intensive
    organizations as their work flow has risen in recent years.