We explore issues in providing support for information sharing, negotiations and decision-making to distributed autonomous organizations, grouped in alliances to improve their own ability to accomplish customers’ requests. In particular, we consider the case of an alliance of printshops offering similar and/or complementary print competencies and capabilities, competing but also collaborating with each other to perform print jobs. We present a typical scenario of the activities within such an alliance, where the main task of the printshop managers is to schedule their portfolio of jobs. We then introduce a multi-agent architecture, called AllianceNet, allowing a manager to flexibly negotiate with the allied printshops some jobs that s/he cannot or does not wish to perform locally. The purpose of the agents in AllianceNet is not to replace the printshop managers, but rather to assist them in the decision process by making available the information needed in the negotiations an by automating the tasks implementing the committed decisions. In particular, we discuss the kind of information used and shared among printshops, the support offered to printshop managers to make informed decisions and to consistently enact and monitor their execution.
negotiation, protocols, decentralized systems, agent models and architecture, "business-to-business" electronic commerce