John Meluso, PhD

OCEAN Postdoctoral Fellow at the Vermont Complex Systems Center

I study Complex Systems, Management & Organizations, and Communication through a Sociolinguistic lens. Primary strengths include semi-structured interviews, surveys, agent-based modeling, and networks. Interested in organizational theory, complex systems, communication studies, gender & diversity studies, sociology, and engineering systems.

Description of Research

Whether we study production throughput, return on investment, or organizational diversity, we can only make sense of how micro-level communication yields macro-level organizational outcomes by combining knowledge from complex systems, organizational theory, communication studies, and sociology. My research integrates techniques from these disciplines to answer: How do organizational outcomes emerge from communication networks? And how can we leverage communication networks to improve those outcomes? My work uncovers patterns of organizational communication in practice using a mixed method approach that combines semi-structured interviews with surveys. Informed by these patterns, I then simulate how networked communication affects organizational outcomes by constructing agent-based models (ABMs). Together, these methods form a powerful suite of tools for understanding and improving organizations. For example, in my recent study of a Fortune 500 firm, I used this approach to identify a consequential case of organizational miscommunication about the definition of the term “estimate” that impaired decision-making, and used an ABM to demonstrate how in networks, even miscommunication about such a seemingly commonplace and straightforward term can substantively degrade organizational performance.

Dissertation Committee

  • Jesse Austin-Breneman (advisor), Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
  • Jose Uribe (co-advisor), Assistant Professor of Management & Organizations
  • Scott Page, John Seely Prown Distinguished University Professor of Complexity, Social Science, and Management
  • Lynette Shaw, Assistant Professor of Complex Systems


Meluso, J., Austin-Breneman, J., & Uribe, J. (2019). Estimate Uncertainty: Miscommunication About Definitions of Engineering Terminology. Journal of Mechanical Design.

Meluso, J., Austin-Breneman, J., and Shaw, L. (2019). “An Agent-Based Model of Miscommunication in Complex System Engineering Organizations,” IEEE Systems Journal, pp. 1–12.

Meluso, J., & Austin-Breneman, J. (2018). Gaming the System: An Agent-Based Model of Estimation Strategies and their Effects on System Performance. Journal of Mechanical Design, 140(12), 121101–121109.

Meluso, J., & Austin-Breneman, J. (2017). Gaming the System: An Agent-Based Model of Estimation Strategies and Their Effects on System Performance. In Proceedings of the ASME 2017 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (Vol. 2A-2017, p. V02AT03A050). Cleveland, Ohio.

Meluso, J., Crough, R., & Francisco, K. (2016). Application of Design Ethnography to Identify the Database as a Mechanism of Effective Communication in Systems Engineering. FPET 2016 Conference Proceedings.

Evans, R., & Meluso, J. (2013). Exploring the “how of engineering competence”: Using service-learning projects in an engineering communications course to facilitate the professional practice of undergraduate engineering students. ICEE/ICIT-2013 Conference Proceedings.