MODELING AND SIMULATING RETAIL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES:
A FIRST APPROACH
Multi-agent systems offer a new and exciting way of understanding the world of
work. We apply agent-based modeling and simulation to investigate a set of problems
in a retail context. Specifically, we are working to understand the relationship
between people management practices on the shop-floor and retail performance.
Despite the fact we are working within a relatively novel and complex domain, it is
clear that using an agent-based approach offers great potential for improving
organizational capabilities in the future.
Our multi-disciplinary research team has worked closely with one of the UK's top ten
retailers to collect data and build an understanding of shop-floor operations and the
key actors in a department (customers, staff, and managers). Based on this case study
we have built and tested our first version of a retail branch agent-based simulation
model where we have focused on how we can simulate the effects of people
management practices on customer satisfaction and sales. In our experiments we have
looked at employee development and cashier empowerment as two examples of shop-
floor management practices.
In this paper we describe the underlying conceptual ideas and the features of our