This work presents a conceptual model of collective decision-making processes in engineering systems design to understand the tradeoffs, risks, and dynamics between autonomous but interacting design actors. The proposed approach combines value-driven design, game theory, and simulation experimentation to study how technical and social factors of a design decision-making process facilitate or inhibit collective action. The collective systems design model considers two levels of decision-making: 1) lower-level design value exploration; and 2) upper-level design strategy selection. At the first level, the actors concurrently explore two strategy-specific value spaces with coupled design decision variables. Each collective decision is mapped to an individual scalar measure of preference (design value) that each actor seeks to maximize. At the second level, each of the actor’s design values from the two lower-level design exploration tasks is assigned to one diagonal entry of a normalform game, with off-diagonal elements calculated in function of the “sucker’s” and “temptation-to-defect” payoffs in a classical strategy game scenario. The model helps generate synthetic design problems with specific strategy dynamics between autonomous actors. Results from a preliminary multi-agent simulation study assess the validity of proposed design spaces and generate hypotheses for subsequent studies using human subjects.

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