Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 589–616 | Cite as

Fostering distributed business logic in Open Collaborative Networks: an integrated approach based on semantic and swarm coordination

  • Francesco P. Appio
  • Mario G. C. A. CiminoEmail author
  • Alessandro Lazzeri
  • Antonella Martini
  • Gigliola Vaglini


Given the great opportunities provided by Open Collaborative Networks (OCNs), their success depends on the effective integration of composite business logic at all stages. However, a dilemma between cooperation and competition is often found in environments where the access to business knowledge can provide absolute advantages over the competition. Indeed, although it is apparent that business logic should be automated for an effective integration, chain participants at all segments are often highly protective of their own knowledge. In this paper, we propose a solution to this problem by outlining a novel approach with a supporting architectural view. In our approach, business rules are modeled via semantic web and their execution is coordinated by a workflow model. Each company’s rule can be kept as private, and the business rules can be combined together to achieve goals with defined interdependencies and responsibilities in the workflow. The use of a workflow model allows assembling business facts together while protecting data source. We propose a privacy-preserving perturbation technique which is based on digital stigmergy. Stigmergy is a processing schema based on the principle of self-aggregation of marks produced by data. Stigmergy allows protecting data privacy, because only marks are involved in aggregation, in place of actual data values, without explicit data modeling. This paper discusses the proposed approach and examines its characteristics through actual scenarios.


Open Collaborative Network Workflow Business rule Web ontology Data perturbation Stigmergy 



This research has been partially supported in the research and innovation project entitled “PMI 3.0”, which has been co-financed by the Tuscany Region (Italy) for the growth of the small-medium enterprises.


  1. Andrés, B., & Poler, R. (2013). Relevant problems in collaborative processes of non-hierarchical manufacturing networks. Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, 6(3), 723–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrés, B., & Poler, R. (2014). Research on collaborative processes in non-hierarchical manufacturing networks. Technological innovation for collective awareness systems. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, 423, 21–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appio, F.P., Martini, A., & Gastaldi, L. (2016). Perspectives on inter-organizational and collaborative innovation. International Journal of Technology Management, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  4. Avvenuti, M., Cesarini, D., & Cimino, M. G. C. A. (2013). MARS, a multi-agent system for assessing rowers’ coordination via motion-based stigmergy. Sensors, 13(9), 12218–12243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baldwin, C., & Von Hippel, E. (2011). Modeling a paradigm shift: from producer innovation to user and open collaborative innovation. Organization Science, 22(6), 1399–1417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barut, M., Faisst, W., & Kanet, J. J. (2002). Measuring supply chain coupling: an information system perspective. European Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, 8(3), 161–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bates, B. J. (1989). Information as an economic good: A reevaluation of theoretical approaches. In B. D. Ruben & L. A. Lievrouw. Mediation, Information, and Communication. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Bechini, A., Cimino, M. G. C. A., Marcelloni, F., & Tomasi, A. (2008). Patterns and technologies for enabling supply chain traceability through collaborative e-business. Information and Software Technology, 50(4), 342–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonabeau, E., Theraulaz, G., Deneubourg, J.-L., & Camazine, S. (1997). Self-organisation in social insects. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 12(5), 188–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bonabeau, E., Dorigo, M., & Theraulaz, G. (1999). Swarm intelligence: From natural to artificial systems. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Brambilla, M., Fraternali, P., & Vaca, C. (2011a). A notation for supporting social business process modeling. In R. Dijkman, J. Hofstetter, & J. Koheler (Eds.), Business process model and notation, Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing 95, 88–102.Google Scholar
  12. Brambilla, M., Fraternali, P., & Vaca, C. (2011b). BPMN and design patterns for engineering social BPM solutions. 4th Workshop on Business Process Management and Social Software (BPMS2’11), co-located with BPM 2011, August 2011, Clermont-Ferrand, France.Google Scholar
  13. Browne, J., Sackett, J., and Wortmann, J. (1995). Future manufacturing systems – towards the extended enterprise. Computers in Industry, 25(3): 235–254.Google Scholar
  14. Bullinger, A.C. (2008). Innovation and ontologies: Structuring the early stages of innovation management. Dissertation Technische Universität München, Gabler.Google Scholar
  15. Camarinha-Matos, L.M. (2013). Collaborative networks: A mechanism for enterprise agility and resilience. In: K. Mertins et al. (Eds.), Enterprise interoperability VI – Interoperability for agility, resilience, and plasticity of collaborations. Springer.Google Scholar
  16. Camarinha-Matos, L.M., and Afsarmanesh, H. (2005). Collaborative networks: a new scientific discipline. Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, 16(4-5): 439–452.Google Scholar
  17. Camarinha-Matos, L. M., & Afsarmanesh, H. (2007). A framework for virtual organization creation in a breeding environment. Annual Reviews in Control, 31(1), 119–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Camarinha-Matos, L. M., Afsarmanesh, H., Galeano, N., & Molina, A. (2009). Collaborative networked organizations – concepts and practice in manufacturing enterprises. Computers & Industrial Engineering, 57(1), 46–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Camarinha-Matos, Luis M., & Hamideh Afsarmanesh, (Eds.) (2014). Collaborative Systems for Smart Networked Environments. Proceedings of the 15th IFIP WG 5.5 Working Conference on Virtual Enterprises, PRO-VE 2014, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 6–8, 2014 (vol. 434). Springer.Google Scholar
  20. Chen, T. Y. (2008). Knowledge sharing in virtual enterprises via an ontology-based access control approach. Computers in Industry, 59(5), 502–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chen, Y., Kreulen, M., Campbell, C., & Abrams, C. (2011). Analytics ecosystem transformation: a force for business model innovation. Proceedings of the 2011 Annual SRII Global Conference (pp. 11–20). Washington: IEEE Computer Society.Google Scholar
  22. Chen, H., Chiang, R. H., & Storey, V. C. (2012). Business intelligence and analytics: from big data to big impact. MIS Quarterly, 36(4), 1165–1188.Google Scholar
  23. Chesbrough, H. W. (2003). Open innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  24. Chesbrough, H. W., & Crowther, A. K. (2006). Beyond high tech: early adopters of open innovation in other industries. R&D Management, 36(3), 229–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Cimino, M. G. C. A., & Marcelloni, F. (2011). Autonomic tracing of production processes with mobile and agent-based computing. Information Sciences, 181(5), 935–953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Clauss, T., & Spieth, P. (2015). Governance of open innovation networks with national vs. international scope. Proceedings of the 25th ISPIM Conference, Budapest, Hungary.Google Scholar
  27. Curley, M., & Salmelin, B. (2013). Open innovation 2.0: a new paradigm. White Paper. Available online: doc_id = 2182.
  28. Das, T. K., & Teng, B. S. (1998). Between trust and control: developing confidence in partner cooperation in alliances. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 491–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Davenport, T. H., & Harris, J. G. (2007). Competing on analytics. New York: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  30. Davenport, T. H., Harris, J. G., & Morrison, R. (2010). Analytics at work: Smarter decisions, better results. New York: Harvard business Review Press.Google Scholar
  31. Deeds, D. L., & Hill, C. W. L. (1996). Strategic alliances and the rate of new product development: an empirical study of entrepreneurial biotechnology firms. Journal of Business Venturing, 11(1), 41–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Dhakal, P. (2009). The law of rule: centralized, decentralized and distributed systems. Report for CFFN, NRN-Canada, NRNA.Google Scholar
  33. Durugbo, C. (2015). Modelling information for collaborative networks. Forthcoming on Production Planning & Control.Google Scholar
  34. Eriksson, H. E., & Penker, M. (1999). Business modeling with UML: Business patterns at work. Wiley.Google Scholar
  35. Ermilova, E., & Afsarmanesh, H. (2006). Competency and profiling management in virtual organization breeding environments. In L. M. Camarinha-Matos, H. Afsarmanesh, & M. Ollus (Eds.), Network-centric collaboration and supporting frameworks (pp. 131–142). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Escribano, A., Fosfuri, A., & Tribò, J. A. (2009). Managing external knowledge flows: the moderating role of absorptive capacity. Research Policy, 38(1), 96–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Fabrizio, K. R. (2009). Absorptive capacity and the search for innovation. Research Policy, 38(2), 255–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Fagerberg, J. (2005). Innovation: A guide to the literature. In J. Fagerberg, D. Mowery, & R. Nelson (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Fiala, P. (2005). Information sharing in supply chains. Omega, 33(5), 419–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Fraternali, P., Brambilla, M., & Vaca, C. (2011). A model-driven approach to social BPM applications. Social BPM. Future Strategies Inc. (May 2011).Google Scholar
  41. Furno, A., & Zimeo, E. (2014). Context-aware composition of semantic web services. Mobile Networks and Applications, 19, 235–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Gastaldi, L., Appio, F. P., Martini, A., & Corso, M. (2015). Academics as orchestrators of continuous innovation ecosystems: towards a fourth generation CI initiatives. International Journal of Technology Management, 68(1/2), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Gloor, P. (2006). Swarm creativity, competitive advantage through collaborative innovation networks. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Grefen, P., Mehandjiev, N., Kouvas, G., Weichhart, G., & Eshuis, R. (2009). Dynamic business network process management in instant virtual enterprises. Computers in Industry, 60, 86–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Heidenreich, S., Landsperger, J., & Spieth, P. (2014). Are innovation networks in need of a conductor? Examining the contribution of network managers in low and high complexity settings. In press on Long Range Planning.Google Scholar
  46. Holland, O., & Melhuish, C. (1999). Stigmergy, self-organization, and sorting in collective robotics. Artificial Life, 5(2), 173–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Iansiti, M., & Levien, R. (2004). Strategy as ecology. Harvard Business Review, March.Google Scholar
  48. Jelasity, M., Babaoglu, O., & Laddaga, R. (2006). Guest editors’ introduction: self-management through self-organization. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 21(2), 8–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Jung, J. J. (2011). Boosting social collaborations based on contextual synchronization: an empirical study. Expert Systems with Applications, 38(5), 4809–4815.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Katila, R., & Ahuja, G. (2002). Something old, something new: a longitudinal study of search behavior and new product introduction. Academy of Management Journal, 45(6), 1183–1194.Google Scholar
  51. Kiemen, M. (2011). Self-organization in Open Source to support collaboration for innovation. Proceedings of the XXII ISPIM Conference held in 12–15 June 2011, Hamburg, Germany.Google Scholar
  52. Krovi, R., Chandra, A., & Rajagopalan, B. (2003). Information flow parameters for managing organizational processes. Communications of the ACM, 46(2), 77–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Levine, S. S., & Prietula, M. (2013). Open collaboration for innovation: principles and performance. Organization Science, 25(5), 1414–1433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Leymann, F., & Roller, D. (2000). Production workflow: Concepts and techniques. Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  55. Li, G., & Wei, M. (2014). Everything-as-a-service platform for on-demand virtual enterprises. Information Systems Frontiers, 16(3), 435–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Liu, C., Li, Q., & Zhao, X. (2009). Challenges and opportunities in collaborative business process management: overview of recent advances and introduction to the special issue. Information Systems Frontiers, 11(3), 201–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Loss, L., & Crave, S. (2011). Agile business models: an approach to support collaborative networks. Production Planning and Control, 22(5–6), 571–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Macedo, P., Cardoso, T., & Camarinha-Matos, L. M. (2013). Value sys-tems alignment in product servicing networks. Collaborative systems for reindustrialization, IFIP series, 408:71–80.Google Scholar
  59. Meech, A. (2010). Business rules using OWL and SWRL. Advanced in Semantic Computing, 2, 23–31.Google Scholar
  60. Moore, J.F. (1996). Death of competition: Leadership and strategy in the age of business ecosystems. Wiley.Google Scholar
  61. Msanjila, S.S., & Afsarmanesh, H. (2006). Assessment and creation of trust in OCNs. In L.M. Camarinha-Matos, H. Afsarmanesh, & M. Ollus (Eds.), Network-centric collaboration and supporting frameworks. Springer.Google Scholar
  62. Msanjila, S. S., & Afsarmanesh, H. (2011). On modelling evolution of trust in organizations towards mediating collaboration. Production Planning and Control, 22(5–6), 518–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ollus, M., Jansson, K., Karvonen, I., Uoti, M., & Riikonen, H. (2011). Supporting collaborative project management. Production Planning and Control, 22(5–6), 538–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. OMG (Object Management Group). (2011). Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN), Version 2.0, Official specification, January 2011. Available online: BPMN/2.0.
  65. Orlikowski, W.J., & Scott, S.V. (2013). What Happens When Evaluation Goes Online? Exploring Apparatuses of Valuation in the Travel Sector. Forthcoming Organization Science.Google Scholar
  66. Palley, A. B., & Kremer, M. (2014). Sequential search and learning from rank feedback: theory and experimental evidence. Management Science, 60(10), 2525–2542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Panchal, J.H. (2010). Coordination in collective product innovation. Proceedings of the ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition IMECE 2010 November 12–18, 2010, Vancouver, BC, Canada.Google Scholar
  68. Patnayakuni, R., Rai, A., & Seth, N. (2006). Relational antecedents of information flow integration for supply chain coordination. Journal of Management Information Systems, 23(1), 13–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Peñaranda Verdeza, N., Galeano, N., Romero, D., Mejia, R., & Molina, A. (2009). Collaborative engineering environments for virtual organisations. International Journal of Information Technology and Management, 8(3), 298–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Picard, W. (2006). Support for adaptive collaboration in professional virtual communities based on negotiations of social protocols. International Journal of Information Technology and Management, 8(3), 298–320.Google Scholar
  71. Picard, W., Paszkiewicz, Z., Gabryszak, P., Krysztofiak, K., & Cellary, W. (2010). Breeding virtual organizations in a service-oriented architecture environment. SOA infrastructure tools: Concepts and methods (pp. 375–396).Google Scholar
  72. Plisson, J., Ljubic, P., Mozetic, I., & Lavrac, N. (2007). An ontology for virtual organization breeding environments. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 37(6), 1327–1341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Porter, M. E., (1985), Competitive Advantage. Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance. Free Press. New York.Google Scholar
  74. Prahalad, C. K., & Krishnan, M. S. (2008). The new age of innovation: Driving co-created value through global networks. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  75. Puranam, P., & Vanneste, B. S. (2009). Trust and governance: untangling a tangles web. Academy of Management Review, 34(1), 11–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Rabelo, R. J., & Gusmeroli, S. (2008). The ECOLEAD collaborative business infrastructure for networked organizations. In L. M. Camarinha-Matos & W. Picard (Eds.), Pervasive collaborative networks, IFIP, 283:451–462. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  77. Rabelo, R. J., Gusmeroli, S., Arana, C., & Nagellen, T. (2006). The ECOLEAD ICT infrastructure for collaborative networked organizations. In L. M. Camarinha-Matos, H. Afsarmanesh & M. Ollus (Eds.), Network-centric collaboration and supporting frameworks, IFIP, 224:451–460. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  78. Rabelo, R. J., Costa, S., & Romero, D. (2014). A governance reference model for virtual enterprises, collaborative systems for smart networked environments. In L. M. Camarinha-Matos & H. Afsarmanesh (Eds.), Collaborative Systems for Smart Networked Enterprises, IFIP, 434:60–70. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  79. Ramaswamy, V., & Gouillart, F. (2010). The power of co-creation: Build it with them to boost growth, productivity, and profits. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  80. Ray, P., & Lewis, L. (2009). Managing cooperation in e-business systems. Information Systems Frontiers, 11(2), 181–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Reijers, H. A., Song, M., & Jeong, B. (2009). Analysis of a collaborative workflow process with distributed actors. Information Systems Frontiers, 11(3), 307–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Ritala, P., Armila, L., & Blomqvist, K. (2009). Innovation orchestration capability – defining the organizational and individual level determinants. International Journal of Innovation Management, 13(4), 569–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Romero, D., & Molina, A. (2009). VO breeding environments & virtual organizations integral business process management framework. Information Systems Frontiers, 11, 569–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Romero, D., & Molina, A. (2010). Virtual organisation breeding environments toolkit: reference model, management framework and instantiation methodology. Production Planning and Control, 21(2), 181–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Romero, D., & Molina, A. (2011). Collaborative networked organisations and customer communities: value co-creation and co-innovation in the networking era. Production Planning and Control, 22(5–6), 447–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Romero, D., Galeano, N., & Molina, A. (2008). A virtual breeding environment reference model and its instantiation methodology. In L. M. Camarinha-Matos, W. Picard (Eds.), Pervasive Collaborative Networks, IFIP International Federation for Information Processing (vol. 283, pp. 15–24). Boston: Springer.Google Scholar
  87. Romero, D., Galeano, N., & Molina, A. (2009). Mechanisms for assessing and enhancing organisations’ readiness for collaboration in collaborative networks. International Journal of Production Research, 47(17), 4691–4710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Rothaermel, F., & Deeds, D. L. (2006). Alliance type, alliance experience and alliance management capability in high technology ventures. Journal of Business Venturing, 21(4), 429–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Russell, M., Still, K., Huhtamaki, J., Yu, C., & Rubens, N. (2011). Transforming innovation ecosystems through shared vision and network orchestration. Triple Helix IX International Conference. Stanford, California: Stanford University.Google Scholar
  90. Sarnikar, S. (2007). Automating knowledge flows by extending conventional information retrieval and workflow technologies. Proceedings of the 2007 Winter Conference on Business Intelligence, David Eccles School of Business, February 22–24, UT, USA.Google Scholar
  91. Sharp, A., & McDermott, P. (2009). Workflow modeling (2nd ed.). Boston: Artech House.Google Scholar
  92. Simões, D., Ferreira, H., & Soares, A.L. (2007). In IFIP International Federation for Information Processing (vol. 243). In L. Camarinha-Matos, H. Afsarmaresh, P. Novais, C. Analide. (Eds.), Establishing the Foundation of Collaborative Networks (pp. 137–146). Boston, MA, USA: Springer.Google Scholar
  93. Steiner, A., Morel, L., & Camargo, M. (2014). Well-suited organization to open innovation: empirical evidence from an industrial deployment. Journal of Innovation Economics & Management, 1(13), 93–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Sun, Y., Tan, W., Li, L., Shen, W., Bi, Z., & Hu, X. (2016). A new method to identify collaborative partners in social service provider networks. Information Systems Frontiers, 18(3), 565–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Tangpong, C., Hung, K. T., & Ro, Y. K. (2010). The interaction effect of relational norms and agent cooperativeness on opportunism in buyer-supplier relationships. Journal of Operations Management, 28(5), 398–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Ulbrick, S., Troitzsch, H., Van den Anker, F., Plüss, A., & Huber, C. (2011). How teams in netwoked organisations develope collaborative capability: processes, critical incidents and success factors. Production Planning and Control, 22(5–6), 488–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Van de Vrande, V., de Jong, J. P. J., Vanhaverbeke, W., & de Rochemont, M. (2009). Open innovation in SMEs: trends, motives and management challenges. Technovation, 29(6–7), 423–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Van der Aalst, W. M. (2009). Process-aware information systems: Lessons to be learned from process mining. In Transactions on petri nets and other models of concurrency II (pp. 1–26). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  99. Velu, C., Barrett, M., Kholi, R., & Salge, T.O. (2013). Thriving in open innovation ecosystems: toward a collaborative market orientation. Working Paper.Google Scholar
  100. Verbeek, M. (2008). A guide to modern econometrics, Chapter 4. Wiley.Google Scholar
  101. W3C (2004). SWRL: A Semantic Web Rule Language Combining OWL and RuleML. W3C Member Submission, 21 May 2004. Available online
  102. W3C (2012). Web Ontology Language (OWL). November 2012. Available online
  103. W3C (2014). Resource Description Framework (RDF). February 2014. Available online
  104. Wang, Y., Wang, J., & Zhang, S. (2005). Collaborative knowledge management by integrating knowledge modeling and workflow modeling. In Information Reuse and Integration, Conf, 2005. IRI-2005 I.E. International Conference on. (pp. 13–18). IEEE.Google Scholar
  105. Wang, H., Peng, X., & Gu, F. (2011). The emerging knowledge governance approach within open innovation: its antecedents factors and interior mechanisms. International Journal of Business and Management, 6(8), 94–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. Well, D. (2009). Collaborative analytics – an emerging practice. Available Online
  107. Zelewski, S. (2001). Ontologien - ein Ueberblick ueber betriebswirtschaftliche Anwendungsbereiche. Workshop “Forschung in schnellebiger Zeit”, Appenzell.Google Scholar
  108. Zeshan, F., & Mohamad, R. (2011). Semantic web service composition approaches: overview and limitations. International Journal on New Computer Architectures and Their Applications (IJNCAA), 1(3), 640–651.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco P. Appio
    • 1
  • Mario G. C. A. Cimino
    • 2
    Email author
  • Alessandro Lazzeri
    • 2
  • Antonella Martini
    • 3
  • Gigliola Vaglini
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Center (Business Group)Pôle Universitaire Léonard de VinciParis La Défense CedexFrance
  2. 2.Department of Information EngineeringUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Energy, System, Territory and Construction EngineeringUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

Personalised recommendations