HSRI and Herbert Simon

Herbert Simon (1916- 2001) was an American economist and political scientist. He received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1978 and the Turing Award in 1975.

He was among the earliest scientist to analyze the architecture of complexity. He was convinced that this analysis is only possible by integrating the knowledge of different disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, economy, political science, management and organizational theory, all disciplines that are covered by our School and our Tilburg University.


Herbert Simon advocates an interdisciplinary research approach for the study of society and its institutions. In this way Herbert Simon is the right person to be associated with as we want to study complex societal problems in a more integral way and seek to connect the expert knowledge, experience and related research networks of all nine research programs/departments. So we are proud that we are allowed to use his name and heritage for our research institute.

Bounded rationality

Herbert Simon coined the terms bounded rationality and satisficing. Bounded rationality is the idea that when individuals make decisions, their rationality is limited by the tractability of the decision problem, the cognitive limitations of their minds, and the time available to make the decision. Decision-makers in this view act as satisfiers, seeking a satisfactory solution rather than an optimal one. These terms can be useful by studying for instance the choices people make by adaptation to societal changes (see later on theme1).

Artificial intelligence

Herbert Simon was also among the pioneers of several modern-day scientific domains such as artificial intelligence and information processing. He stated for instance that study of human problem solving required new kinds of human measurements. With this he can serve as an example for TESC; our research facility which experiments with new data collection via wearables and other digital devices.


Due to his broad interest and expertise in various disciplines Herbert Simon not only is an inspiration for collaboration within TSB, but also opens possibilities for cooperation with researchers from other TiU Schools and (inter)national universities and organizations. To name a few examples of TiU:

  • on work: with TiSEM and Reflect (TLS)
  • on organization and management: with TiSEM
  • on neuroscience and artificial intelligence: with TiCC (TSH)
  • on legal and ethical aspects of data, privacy: with TiLT (TLS)