Organizational adaptability and robustness in dynamic environments

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

Thought this would be a good place to add any thoughts/ ideas between meetings and also to perhaps place any interesting points from the literature that you have found so everyone is up to speed but doesn't neccesarily have to read everything! Richard.

People Involved

Cathy Spence
Steve Hall
Richard Streeter
Jiang Wu
Bradley Jones

Ideas/ Brainstorming

A lot depends on getting hold of the model from Josh.

  1. Add a cost for changing hierachical structures
  2. Investigate which 'genome' is a) most agile and b) most robust. Are a and b the same?
  3. Look at case studies - model exploration using civilization examples
  4. Model improvement - Incorporate more sophisticated dynamic environments - possibly some sort of feedback mechanism (based on models of resource use and growth?) and/or more 'realistic' fixed environments
  5. Can we incorporate 'network' structure?

Learn: How process to generate structure and environment affects viability and performance. What is the tradeoff between surviving in the long term and making as much money as possible in the near term.


Adaptability - see wikipedia

Robustness - also wikipedia

There is a concept of resilence' used a lot in my field which I think is slightly more nuanced than 'robustness'. I also thing that Adaptive Capacity could be a key concept to consider here.

Organizational Agility - power to the edge wikipedia

Agile enterprise--from the viewpoint of complex adaptive system -see Agile enterprise -Jiang

Resources/ Literature

This book is about agile organzation, how to manage information network in the organzation from the viewpoint of complex adaptive system.(THE AGILE ORGANIZATION) -Jiang

Dynamic Organizations: Achieving Marketplace And Organizational Agility With People

Information exchange and the robustness of organizational networks


The Science of Self Organization and Adaptability

Limits of prediction in modeling social systems


Societal robustness and dynamic environments - the long term view

O'Suliven (2008) - 'The Collapse of Civilizations: what palaeoenvironmental reconstruction cannot tell us, but antrhopology can'

This article I think is excellent and suggests a number of interesting points. Especially consider that he suggests that minimizing hierarchy can maximize long-term sustainability.

Scheffer and Westley (2007) The Evolutionary Basis of Rigidity

Good points to note from this article are the concept of the 'efficiency trap' which may limit adaptive capacity

Diamond (2005) Collapse - A useful synthesis but pretty simplistic. Interesting comparison between so called top-down success and bottom up success.

Panarchy is a concept that is becoming widely used in my area - I have the 'Panarchy' book and it has a chapter entitled The Devil in the Dynamics: Adaptive Management on the front lines - I will report back when I have read it.

Walker et al (2004) [ Resilience, Adaptability and Transformability in Social ecological Systems]

Janssen et al (2003) Sunk Cost effects and Vulnerability to collapse in Ancient Societies - we could perhaps apply some of the ideas/ formulas here for resources/population equilibria and how this varies when there is investment in structures (organizational structure?). There is also a resource use function we could utlise to incorporate feedback for the environment.

see also [ Overexploitation of Renewable Resources by Ancient Societies and the Role of Sunk-Cost Effects]

I will try and did out some case studies from human settlement in the North Atlantic and also in the pacific where a lot of work has been done. I also will try and find some information on the surplus cost of maintaining a complex hierarchical structure in past societies - there are some leads in the O'Suliven article to follow.