In service-oriented computing, software agents interact by requesting and providing services. Since providing a service incurs cost, uncooperative behavior dominates in the absence of an incentive mechanism. An economic model that describes interactions between individuals is the Helping Game. There, pairs of requester and provider are randomly matched. In various real-world applications in turn, several providers offer similar services, and requesters have a choice of providers. The rationale behind strategic provider selection is to choose the provider that is most likely to perform the task as desired. The results from existing studies of the Helping Game are not directly applicable to settings with provider selection. To analyze how strategic provider selection affects the efficiency of enterprise systems, we have designed and carried out an experimental study. Our results show that cooperative participants receive significantly more requests than uncooperative ones, making cooperation expensive. We conclude that system designers must incentivize requesters to balance their tasks between providers.
Strategic Provider Selection in a Policy-based Helping Scenario
Christian Hütter, Jing Zhi Yue, Christian von der Weth and Klemens Böhm
Proceedings of the 12th IEEE Conference on Commerce and Enterprise Computing (CEC '10)