International Workshop on Coordination, Organizations, Institutions, and Norms in Agent Systems

Coordination, Organizations, Institutions, and Norms in Agent Systems X pp 19-35

Holonic Institutions for Multi-scale Polycentric Self-governance

Conference paper

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-25420-3_2

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9372)
Cite this paper as:
Diaconescu A., Pitt J. (2015) Holonic Institutions for Multi-scale Polycentric Self-governance. In: Ghose A., Oren N., Telang P., Thangarajah J. (eds) Coordination, Organizations, Institutions, and Norms in Agent Systems X. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9372. Springer, Cham


Effective institutions are key to the success of self-governing systems, yet specifying and maintaining them can be challenging, especially in large-scale, highly dynamic and competitive contexts. Political economist Elinor Ostrom has studied the conventional arrangements for sustainable natural resource management and derived from these eight design principles for self-governing institutions. One principle, nested enterprises, is straightforwardly expressed, but is arguably structural rather than functional, and so is more resistant to declarative specification; yet it also appears to be critical to the effectiveness of complex compositional systems. In this paper, we converge the ideas of holonic systems with electronic institutions, to propose a formalisation of this principle based on holonic institutions. We show how holonic institutions provide a structural framework for nested enterprises, which can be designed as composite systems of systems. This, we believe, is compatible with Ostrom’s ideas for polycentric governance of complex systems. We use a case study in energy distribution to illustrate these ideas.


Electronic institutions Holonic architectures Multi-agent systems Self-organising systems Polycentric governance Smartgrids 

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Telecom ParisTechParis Cedex 13France
  2. 2.Imperial College LondonLondonUK

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