Ant colonies: building complex organizations with minuscule brains and no leaders

Mark W. Moffett*, Simon Garnier, Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Nathan R. Furr, Massimo Warglien, Costanza Sartoris, William Ocasio, Thorbjørn Knudsen, Lars A. Bach, Joachim Offenberg


Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Thus far the articles in the series JOD calls the “Organization Zoo” have employed the notion of a “zoo” metaphorically to describe an array of human institutions. Here we take the term literally to consider the design of the most complex organizations in the living world beside those of humans, a favorite of insect zoos around the world: ant colonies. We consider individuality and group identity in the functioning of ant organizations; advantages of a flat organization without hierarchies or leaders; self-organization; direct and indirect communication; job specialization; labor coordination; and the role of errors in innovation. The likely value and limitations of comparing ant and human organizations are briefly examined.

TidsskriftJournal of Organization Design
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)55-74
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
SG supported by the DARPA Young Faculty Award under Grant D19AP00046.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Organizational Design Community.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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