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Institutional Cognition

By Rodrick Wallace and Deborah Wallace


We generalize a recent mathematical analysis of Bernard Baars' model of human consciousness to explore analogous, but far more complicated, phenomena of institutional cognition. Individual consciousness is limited to a single, tunable, giant component of interacting cogntivie modules, instantiating a Global Workspace. Human institutions, by contrast, seem able to multitask, supporting several such giant components simultaneously, although their behavior remains constrained to a topology generated by cultural context and by the path-dependence inherent to organizational history. Surprisingly, such multitasking, while clearly limiting the phenomenon of inattentional blindness, does not eliminate it. This suggests that organizations (or machines) explicitly designed along these principles, while highly efficient at certain sets of tasks, would still be subject to analogs of the subtle failure patterns explored in Wallace (2005b, 2006). We compare and contrast our results with recent work on collective efficacy and collective consciousness

Topics: Social Psychology
Year: 2006
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