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Read the above Article Titled as ““Modeling Autonomous Decision-Making on
Environmental Management Using Petri-Net: Case Study” by Niken Prilandita,
Benjamin McLellan, Tetsuo Tezuka and answer the following Questions:
1. Explain the main issues and challenges discussed in this article titled as “Modeling
Autonomous Decision-Making on Energy and Environmental Management Using
Petri-Net: Case Study”.
2. What are your opinions about this study and how it is connected to your learning in
course and beneficial for you? (300-400 words)
Modeling Autonomous Decision-Making on
Energy and Environmental Management Using
Petri-Net: The Case Study of a Community in
Niken Prilandita *, Benjamin McLellan and Tetsuo Tezuka
Graduate School of Energy Science, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan;
email@example.com (B.M.); firstname.lastname@example.org (T.T.)
* Correspondence: email@example.com; Tel.: +81-75-753-4739; Fax: +81-75-753-9189
Academic Editor: Palmiro Poltronieri
Received: 28 December 2015; Accepted: 5 April 2016; Published: 14 April 2016
Abstract: Autonomous decision-making in this study is defined as the process where decision-makers
have the freedom and ability to find problems, select goals, and make decisions for achieving the
selected problems/goals by themselves. Autonomous behavior is considered significant for achieving
decision implementation, especially in the context of energy and environmental management, where
multiple stakeholders are involved and each stakeholder holds valuable local information for making
decisions. This paper aims to build a structured process in modeling the autonomous decision-making.
A practical decision-making process in waste-to-energy conversion activities in a community in
Bandung, Indonesia, is selected as a case study. The decision-making process here is considered as
a discrete event system, which is then represented as a Petri-net model. First, the decision-making
process in the case study is decomposed into discrete events or decision-making stages, and the
stakeholders’ properties in each stage are extracted from the case study. Second, several stakeholder
properties that indicate autonomous behavior are identified as autonomous properties. Third,
presented is a method to develop the decision-making process as a Petri-net model. The model is
utilized for identifying the critical points for verifying the performance of the derived Petri-net.
Keywords: autonomy; decision-making; Petri-net; energy; environmental; community; Indonesia
The recent global agenda and technological challenges for creating a more sustainable
environment have encouraged countries around the world to gradually shift towards sustainable
energy transitions. Upon the new global agreement of Sustainable Development Goals, every country
is now highly anticipated to direct their efforts towards realizing a more sustainable energy system and
environment . From the technology side, the emergence of new technologies, such as smart grids
and source-centered renewable energies, have expanded the potential and requirements of energy
generation and management in ways that have not been available previously. These facts suggest that
the energy system is likely to become more distributed and localized, thus the decision-making and
policy-making process in the energy sector should be adjusted to follow this future tendency .
Most decisions made on energy and environmental management affect a large number of people
and, thus, are of public interest. Decision-making in this sector usually becomes complicated since
various interests need to be accommodated in the process. Moreover, once a consensus has been
successfully reached, it does not guarantee successful implementation. Various decision-making
approaches for reaching an easy consensus, as well as for achieving successful implementation,
have been proposed. Two common approaches in decision-making are with the centralized and the
Challenges 2016, 7, 9; doi:10.3390/challe7010009
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decentralized approaches [3,4]. The quest of balancing between the centralized and the decentralized
systems for decision-making is often an issue in organizational management. Easy access to
information with the advancement of information technology, the internet, and other means today,
have made the decision-making style in organizations lean towards a more decentralized style [5,6].
However, this approach may not be entirely applicable for cases in energy and environmental
management that occur in the public domain.
This study puts more focus on autonomy in decision-making processes regardless of whether they
are conducted under a centralized or a decentralized system. Two ways of understanding the concept
of autonomy are considered here. Firstly, autonomy in the political or public administration field,
which is often seen as one of the traits of a more decentralized system . Secondly, as understood
in the current study, autonomy can be considered as a property of persons regardless of the systemic
context [7–9]. Therefore, we argue that autonomy can exist in both centralized and decentralized
approaches because autonomy is the property of each decision-maker.
The hypothesis of this study is that decisions made autonomously are more likely to achieve
successful outcomes. Autonomy in making decisions is believed to be related to an increase in quality
of life. Research from neuroscience has found that actively making decisions can boost pleasure and
increase the decision-makers’ happiness, satisfaction, and perceived control . Furthermore, high
levels of happiness and satisfaction are causal influences on success and achievement, not the other
way around . Simply stated, if a decision-maker has made an autonomous decision, without being
coerced or forced, it is considered more likely that the decision-maker will achieve the decision goal
and benefit from that.
Normatively, stakeholders’ autonomy in making decisions is important, though its important
role in decision-making may not been objectively examined . The fact that we have not found
studies that objectively examined the role of autonomy in decision-making in energy-environmental
management showed that this theme has to date been insufficiently examined. We argue that the
recent global agenda and technological advances in the energy-environmental sector (e.g., smart-grid
technologies, decentralized energy, and market liberalization) expect decision-makers to become more
autonomous. This situation has created the necessity to develop a framework that can represent and
identify the role of stakeholders’ autonomy in the decision-making process. Such a framework would
consist of several elements employed for specific tasks, and is the purpose of the current research.
This paper discusses one of the important elements of the framework, a model that aims to represent,
analyze, and simulate the autonomous decision-making process.
The autonomous decision-making model in this paper is developed as a discrete event system,
and this paper presents the method to build such a model. The decision-making process is
decomposed into discrete events that we call decision-making stages. Afterwards, the properties
of stakeholders involved in each stage are identified; thus, the concept of a discrete event system
for autonomous decision-making is established. Petri-net is utilized to represent the discrete event
system of the autonomous decision-making process. Each decision-making stage, the stakeholders’
properties, and the state after decisions are made; corresponding to a small Petri-net model
consisting of a few transitions and places. The autonomous decision-making model is constructed
by combining all of these small Petri-net models of each event/stage. As an addition, we conducted
analysis of the Petri-net model’s behavior for identifying the stages which are indispensable for an
autonomous decision-making system. These stages are called the critical points in the autonomous
2. The Definition of Autonomous Decision-Making
This section explains the definition of autonomous decision-making. The term, autonomous
decision-making is defined by dissecting it into the root words comprising it, which are “autonomy”
and “decision-making”. The development of the concept of autonomy as a political and personal
property is historically explained, followed by a brief explanation on various scopes of the
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decision-making process, and various types of energy decision-making. Based on this information, we
construct the definition of autonomous decision-making used in this study.
2.1. The Concept of Autonomy
The definition of autonomy has been through several changes throughout the course of history.
As mentioned above, there are at least two different concepts of autonomy explained in this paper.
Autonomy originated from the Greek words “auto” which means self, and “nomos” which means law.
This concept was firstly coined referring to the city states in ancient Greece that were self-governing.
Originally, autonomy was defined in a political manner, which was the right of the states (or city-states,
in that instance) to administer their own affairs . In the context of public administration management,
territorial or local autonomy is the result of a decentralization process . In the Indonesian context
for example, the Law of Decentralization number 22/1999, was the beginning of the country’s journey
towards a more decentralized political structure. This law has since become the legal basis for
providing more autonomy to local governments in making decisions regarding their own territory
and environment. The spirit of the law has had a side effect, however, in that it caused the Indonesian
people to gain greater awareness of autonomy, knowing that they had more freedom in choosing
among options. This has promoted decision-making processes to be performed more autonomously
in various levels of society’s hierarchical structure, including at the lower authority levels, such as
villages and sub-districts . Looking at this fact, the term autonomy in Indonesia has gradually
become understood not only as the property of a state or territory, but also as a personal trait.
One of the most important moments in the history of the concept of autonomy was when the
definition of autonomy was transformed from the property of a state in the ancient Greek era, into a
property of persons during the Renaissance era [7,8]. Since then, the concept of autonomy has been
understood in both ways. However, autonomy in the majority of contemporary works is seen as a
property of persons, or personal autonomy . Although the concept of autonomy mainly revolves
around these two definitions, the dimensions of autonomy are understood in many different ways,
depending on which field of study is viewing it. Mackenzie, for example, defined three dimensions
of autonomy, namely self-determination, self-governance, and self-authorization . Other studies
focus on the self-directedness and resoluteness dimensions of autonomy . Meanwhile, the computer
science and information technology fields view the ability to continuously learn or self-learning traits
in the emergence of autonomous machines or artificial intelligence as one of the most important
characteristics of autonomy .
2.2. Decision-Making Process
The definition of decision-making has been long established, and since decision-making is
understood as a process of making decisions, then the definitions mostly evolved on the scope
of the process. There are two predominately different views in decision theory regarding the extent
of the decision-making scope. Firstly, decision-making is defined as a process started by identifying
problems or goals, and ended after a decision has been made. One of the main supporters of this
concept was Herbert Simon (1960) . Later, Huber (1980) expanded the concept of decision-making
by defining it as “the process through which a course of action is taken” , and the process by
which the decision is implemented is considered as part of the problem-solving process. Most of the
studies that defined the decision-making process came from the field of organizational management.
Meanwhile when decisions need to be made in the public domain, the decision-making process is often
regarded as the whole cycle from problem identification up to decision implementation and evaluation,
and then feeding-back to problem identification. This is known as a generic decision cycle , or a
planning process . An example of a decision-making cycle is presented in Figure 1. In this study,
we investigate the decision-making process extended to the implementation stages.
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Figure 1. Example of a decision-making cycle [18,19].
Figure 1. Example of a decision-making cycle [18,19].
stakeholders, such as national government, local government (provincial/city/regency governments,
(households and individuals are considered as a single decision-maker), and non-governmental
experts and academicians). As mentioned earlier, decision-making in energy and environmental
in the public
are involved are
Sexton, et al.
that are usually
the main stakeholders
involved in environment-related decision-making are national governments, regional or local
neighborhood groups, and affected or interested individuals. The relationships between
into two typescan
be classified which
horizontal (parallel) relationships with each other [21,22]. Decision-making for individual
stakeholders and groups of stakeholders is influenced both by the structure of relationships and the
and policy-making (We use the phrase “energy (and environmental)
in this paper
Energy related decision-making
the phrase “energy
environmental) decision-making and policy-making” or “decision-making in energy sector”
tends to occur in aintop-down
environmental sector.) at the national level tends to occur in a top-down manner, following
hierarchical structure of the country’s institutions. In the UK, for example, energy decision-making
power from and
by the central government
in the private sector. This situation began to change after the Localism Bill was stipulated in 2010
for more than two
local government [23,24]. Another example is from a developing country, Indonesia, where for more
after the promulgation
since the in
in 1981, the of
Act in 2007.
its own local
government in the energy sector was recognized after the promulgation of the Energy Act in 2007.
targets outlined by the national energy masterplan.
Recent experiences from both countries have shown that the local authorities are mandated and
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