Unravelling adaptive resilience of complex high risk organisations

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Serious problems with handling recent major and minor disruptions (e.g., Icelandic volcano eruption, Fukushima nuclear disaster) indicated the lack of resilience in many modern high risk organisations (HROs). This lack has already caused human casualties and billion dollar losses. To improve the situation, a fundamental understanding of resilience of HROs is required. Adaptive capacity underlies resilience of HROs, which includes abilities to anticipate and recognise disruptive events, and re-organise to handle these events. Current research in adaptive resilience of HROs focuses largely on empirical case studies and qualitative descriptive theories, whereas formal theoretical basis of adaptive resilience is missing. Formal and computational models are, however, indispensable for understanding and predicting complex nonlinear dynamics of HROs with their numerous interdependencies, threshold effects, and feedback loops operating at multiple temporal and spatial scales. In this paper a new mathematical and computational framework is proposed to describe, measure, understand, and improve adaptive resilience of HROs. To handle environmental uncertainty and changes, HROs combine elements of hierarchical topdown control and bottom-up self-organisation. General Systems Theory is useful to model hierarchical systems, whereas Complex Adaptive Systems Theory and its prominent tool – multiagent systems modelling – are well-suited to describe self-organisation and bottom-up emergence. In the proposed framework these two theories are integrated and elaborated using rich empirical data from HROs and social science theories. Specifically, mechanisms of anticipation, adaptive coordination, learning, and re-organisation at individual, team, organisational, and inter-organisational aggregation levels are considered. The developed framework is applied in case studies in air transportation, involving disruptions in highly interdependent systems of systems comprising airlines, airports, and air navigation service providers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event2016 Conference on Complex Systems - Beurs Van Berlage, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 19 Sept 201622 Sept 2016


Conference2016 Conference on Complex Systems
Abbreviated titleCCS 2016
Internet address


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