Virtual Enterprise Normative Framework within Electronic ...


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  • Possible activities: execution of an enterprise (e.g. a civil construction project) supply of equal or complementary goods to third parties production of goods to be split amongst consortium’s members
  • Passar de relance, sem detalhar, referindo que o nosso trabalho se centra na operação e regulação da EV. Talvez referir o trabalho já feito na área da formação da EV.
  • EI as an agent interaction framework imposes regulations on electronic members (agents) provides a trustable environment enabling agents from different sources to safely engage in regulated business interactions
  • Referir as partes já implementadas: specific negotiation protocol for VE formation ontology services agent
  • Range of contracts: from simple deals denoting sell/purchase operations to complex business relationships between parties E-contracts and norms: contracts as a means of securing transactions contracts form a normative structure expressing interdependencies between parties
  • ns:    s,b (  <  ) ns is a label  is an activation condition  is a deontic operator (obligation, permission, or prohibition) s is the subject of  and b is the beneficiary of   is the action to perform and  is a deadline
  • Characteristics of a VE business relationship: ongoing (although limited) relationship between partners in contrast with short-term order-delivery-payment operations cyclical interactions in cases of continuous production of goods deliberate contract termination not at the end of a predetermined normative path exit/entrance of partners during the VE lifecycle according to pre-specified conditions, such as non-fulfilment establishment of contracts with third-parties in external consortiums profit exchange in joint venture configurations
  • Institutional norms: regulations on general contracting and consortium contracts default rules resolving issues not explicitly addressed by agents VE Constitutional norms: duration, membership, cooperation terms (workload, prices, workflow outline, …) Operational norms: specify the concrete interactions that must take place between some of the agents participating in the VE
  • Requests permits: can be regarded as permissions (rights) granted to agents for demanding the contribution of the envisaged agent, bounded by the cooperation effort it committed to Obligation chains: no predetermined executable normative path (depends on business performance)
  • Contract templates: provide a structure in which negotiation can be based in typical business relations, contain domain-independent interaction schemata to be reused, allowing negotiation to focus on specificities of the agreement at hand
  • Imposing and enforcing norms: non-fulfilling agents get bad reputations and/or get limitations on further actions ( normative rules )
  • Past experience and agents’ reputations: unforeseen contingencies non-fulfilment of duties Norm emergence (evolution): tailored regulations and templates for common business relations new default rules for commonly used values …
  • Virtual Enterprise Normative Framework within Electronic ...

    1. 1. Virtual Enterprise Normative Framework within Electronic Institutions Henrique Lopes Cardoso 1,2 , Eugénio Oliveira 1 [email_address] , [email_address] 1 LIACC, Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto 2 Polytechnic Institute of Bragança
    2. 2. Outline <ul><li>VO/VE and MAS </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic Institutions </li></ul><ul><li>E-contracting and VE contracts </li></ul><ul><li>Normative Framework </li></ul><ul><li>VE Contract specification </li></ul><ul><li>Current work </li></ul><ul><li>Agent society perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Open issues </li></ul>
    3. 3. Virtual Organizations/Enterprises <ul><li>VO/VE concept </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Applied to many forms of cooperative business relations, like outsourcing, supply chains, or temporary consortiums </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Definition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ a temporary consortium of autonomous, diverse and possibly geographically dispersed organizations that pool their resources to meet short-term objectives and exploit fast-changing market trends” [Davulcu et al. , 1999] </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Consortium contract [Portuguese legislation] </li></ul><ul><ul><li>entities coordinate their efforts towards accomplishing some activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>consortium types: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>External : new entity represents joint activity to third parties </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Internal : consortium’s goal does not include supply of goods to third parties (although the members’ goals might) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    4. 4. VE Lifecycle Business definition client need; market opportunity Formation goal definition; selection of participants through negotiation; roles and obligations Operation business development Regulation adjustments in consortium structure (exit/entrance of partners) Dissolution goals accomplished; VE no longer justified
    5. 5. MAS and VO/VE <ul><li>Autonomous agents as enterprises: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>represent individual interests of an enterprise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>negotiate in order to constitute a VO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cooperate by coordinating their activities, fulfilling the VO purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Normative perspective </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>agents are heterogeneous, independently developed and privately owned </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need for normative systems that enable trust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>agents follow norms or suffer consequences </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>agents commit to cooperative agreements (business norms regulating the consortium activity) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Electronic Institutions <ul><li>EI as an agent interaction framework </li></ul><ul><ul><li>regulations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>trustable environment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>EI regulations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identity of members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>registration, digital signatures </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared ontology specifications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>domain-independent business terms and domain-specific vocabulary </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business norms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>applicable to any business engagement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Negotiation protocols </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>for negotiating contract clauses, possibly requiring mediation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contract specification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>formal contractual requirements (representation, signatures, …) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Electronic Institutions’ Services Electronic Institution Members Contract registry Ontologies Business norms Transaction repository Contract templates Members’ reputation Negotiation Protocols Negotiation mediation Reputation Brokering Registration Contract validation / registration (notary) Contract monitoring and enforcement
    8. 8. E-contracting <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a contract is a formalization of the behaviour of a group of agents that jointly agree on a specific business activity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>E-contracts and norms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>contracts form a normative structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>by contracting, agents commit to norms </li></ul></ul><ul><li>E-contract handling and institutional services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information discovery ( pre-contractual phase ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>brokering (yellow pages) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contract negotiation ( contractual phase ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>templates; negotiation mediation; contract validation and registry (notary) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Execution ( post-contractual phase ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>contract monitoring and enforcement; transaction repository; reputation services </li></ul></ul></ul>
    9. 9. E-contract specification <ul><li>Usual approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Normative concepts (from deontic logic): obligation, permission, prohibition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>+ sanction: making obligations (or prohibitions) effective </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Normative statement [Sallé, 2002] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ns:    s,b (  <  ) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>appropriate for simple contracts (e.g. purchase): </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ns1: O se,bu (deliver(product, quantity) < date(delivery_date)) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ns2: fulfilled(ns1)  O bu,se (pay(price) < date(delivery_date+30)) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ns3: not_fulfilled(ns1)  O se,bu (give_discount(-10%, price)) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ns4: not_fulfilled(ns2)  O bu,se (pay(+5%, price) < date(delivery_date+60)) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>What about complex (VE) contracts? </li></ul>
    10. 10. VE Contracts <ul><li>VE business relationship is more complex in nature than a simple sell/purchase operation </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ongoing (although limited) relationship between partners </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>cyclical interactions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>deliberate contract termination </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>exit/entrance of partners during the VE lifecycle </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>establishment of contracts with third-parties </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>profit exchange </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>A two-level conception of VE contracts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>VE constitution vs. operation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Constitutional contract establishes a cooperation agreement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Operational contracts implement the intended cooperation </li></ul></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Normative Framework Institutional norms (the law) framework against which a VE contract can be validated Virtual Enterprise constitution (cooperation agreement) platform of cooperation within which operational contracts between VE participants can be checked Operational contract (executable norms) actual exchanges of products/services, which can be monitored Contract validation Contract monitoring / enforcement
    12. 12. VE Contract specification <ul><li>Focusing on the cooperation commitment: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>VEContract = <H, CoopEff, BP> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Header (H) : contract id, normative system, organization participants, resources to be exchanged, signing date, digital signatures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>H = <Id, NormSys, Partics, Ress, Date, Signs> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Partics = {Partic i } </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ress = {Res k } </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Signs = {Sign i } </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cooperation effort (CoopEff) : workload acceptance levels and associated prices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>CoopEff = {<Partic i , Res k , Wload>} </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wload = <MinQt, MaxQt, Freq, UnitPr> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Freq  {per_day, per_week, per_month, per_year} </li></ul></ul></ul>
    13. 13. VE Contract specification (2) <ul><ul><li>Business process (BP) : flow of resources between participants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>BP = <{ReqPerm m }, {OblChain n }> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Request permits (ReqPerm) : allowed requests that parties may perform towards their partners </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ReqPerm = <Who, Whom, What> </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who, Whom  Partics; What  Ress; <Whom, What, _>  CoopEff </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Obligation chains (OblChain) : implement the business transaction steps composing the required workflow </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>activated by the enactment of request permits </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>can be regarded as templates for operational contracts ( executable norms ) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>OblChain = <OblRule 1 , OblRule 2 , …, OblRule p > </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>OblRule = <ActCond, Obl> </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Current work <ul><li>Declarative representation for </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>institutional norms </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>VE constitutional and operational contracts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>enabling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>validation of contracts according to the normative framework </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>monitoring and enforcement of operational contracts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>regulation of the VE lifecycle </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Integrate institutional services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>focus on contract handling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>contract creation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>templates </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>negotiation mediation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>contract validation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>contract monitoring/enforcement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>transaction registration </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>sanction imposition </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>reputation mechanisms </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Agent society perspective <ul><li>Normative framework for self-interested agents in cooperative scenarios </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Agent interaction regulated by institutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>EI provides a trustable environment by imposing and enforcing norms </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agent cooperation agreements impose further norms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>agents voluntarily commit to norms because organized cooperation is in their interest </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agent operational contracts enact cooperation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>by fulfilling executable norms agents carry out their cooperation agreements </li></ul></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Open issues <ul><li>Relational contracting </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>formal contract : fully specified enforceable contract based on a third party (EI) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>relational contract : self-enforceable, based on the value of future relationships </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(How) can agents learn the level of detail for their contracts according to past experience and agents’ reputations? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(How) can the EI impose certain specifications to non-fulfilling agents? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Norm evolution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can new institutional norms emerge from the continuous operation of the EI? </li></ul></ul>