Agent-embedded system dynamics (aeSD) modeling approach for analyzing worker policies: a research case on construction worker absenteeism

Sungjoo Hwang, Seungjun Ahn, Sang Hyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Both system dynamics (SD) and agent-based modeling (ABM) have been used in simulation-based group dynamics research. To combine the advantages of both simulation approaches, the concept of SD-ABM hybrid simulation has been proposed. However, research efforts to compare the effectiveness of modeling approaches between the hybrid and non-hybrid models in the context of group dynamics study are rare. Against this background, this study aims to propose an agent-embedded SD (aeSD) modeling approach and demonstrate its advantages when compared to pure SD or ABM modeling approaches, based on a research case on construction workers’ social absenteeism. Design/methodology/approach: The authors introduce an aeSD modeling approach to incorporate individual attributes and interactions among individuals in an SD model. An aeSD model is developed to replicate the behavior of an agent-based model previously developed by the authors to study construction workers’ group behavior regarding absenteeism. Then, the characteristics of the aeSD model in comparison with a pure ABM or SD model are demonstrated through various simulation experiments. Findings: It is demonstrated that an aeSD model can capture the diversity of individuals and simulate emergent system behaviors arising from interactions among heterogeneous agents while holding the strengths of an SD model in identifying causal feedback loops and policy testing. Specifically, the effectiveness of the aeSD approach in policy testing is demonstrated through examples of simulation experiments designed to test various group-level and individual-level interventions to control social absence behavior of workers (e.g. changing work groupings, influencing workgroup networks and communication channels) under the consideration of the context of construction projects. Originality/value: The proposed aeSD modeling method is a novel approach to how individual attributes of agents can be modeled into an SD model. Such an embedding-based approach is distinguished from the previous communication-based hybrid simulation approaches. The demonstration example presented in the paper shows that the aeSD modeling approach has advantages in studying group dynamic behavior, especially when the modeling of the interactions and networks between individuals is needed within an SD structure. The simulation experiments conducted in this study demonstrate the characteristics of the aeSD approach distinguishable from both ABM and SD. Based on the results, it is argued that the aeSD modeling approach would be useful in studying construction workers’ social behavior and investigating worker policies through computer simulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-397
Number of pages19
JournalConstruction Innovation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Absenteeism
  • Agent-based modeling
  • Agent-embedded system dynamics (aeSD)
  • Construction engineering management
  • Construction management
  • Construction workers
  • Group dynamics
  • HRM
  • People
  • System dynamics
  • Team working


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