Welcome to the Log of Resilience

Resilience Alliance (www.resiliencealliance.org) is a highly influential organization in resilience research, which offers great perspectives and insights into resilience. One feature to be found on their website is the Threshold Database, a database documenting more than 71 socio-ecological and 32 ecological systems, their attractive states, and influential factors leading to resilience or lack of it. Interestingly, the phenomena documented ranges spatially from local to global and temporally from days to centuries. We see that most of the systems are related to fisheries, forests, and farming, which play crucial role in world economy and are relevant for sustainability.

However, once we enter the social realm, such a database is difficult to find. Anybody willing to get informed about social instances where an organization has demonstrated resilience needs to go through great efforts to have a general overview of the world of resilience out there. This Log is created to offer public a dataset of observations of resilience. Given that resilience is a quite general concept and is loosely used across many contexts, an eligibility criterion is set for a case to count as a resilience case: An organization needs to face a disruption/shock and an eventual recovery, and this organization should be comparable to some other organizations which also faced the same shock, but some managed weather the shock and some others not.

Furthermore, the contributor must be able to determine the following factors in the case:

1) State versus Performance: State resilience refers to resilience as would be measured by ecosystem researchers. The system is described by several state variables and the system faces a disturbance, which seeks to displace it from its equilibrium point. Such observations do not necessarily come with an assessment of good or bad, but with that of stable or unstable. Performance resilience refers to some fitness signal associated with the system. For shareholder value maximizing firms, this might be profits. For a learning agent, like an AI system, this might be the cost function.

2) Direction of Disturbance: It should be possible to determine the exact "touching point" of the disturbance on the organization. For example, an explosion in factories will impact an organization through delayed manufacturing and eventually ripple to the rest of the supply chain. Meanwhile, banking crisis might lead to financial impact and reduced credit availability.

3) Duration of Disturbance: How long does it take for organization to recover? From the shock moment until full recovery (can be both return to equilibrium state or same performance level) needs to be documented.

4) Distance of Disturbance: Geographic location of the shock as well as of the system is important. For example, in 2010 volcanic eruptions in Iceland disrupted airline industry throughout whole Europe. Meanwhile, many other events such as earthquakes and hurricane can remain relatively localized.

5) Stakeholder Perspective: Who perceives a shock? An organization brings many stakeholders together ranging from buyers to suppliers to employees, financial institutes, shareholders and so on. Oftentimes resilience in the eyes of employees may not align with the resilience in the eyes of shareholders: A company may have to go through massive layoffs and switch businesses, which would be a big disruption for employees. However, if it maintains its dividends paid, then shareholders might argue the company showed great resilience.

6) Mechanism: What made the organization resilient? There are dozens of mechanisms which enhance and decrease the resilience of an organization. Generally subsumed in two big categories of absorption and adaptation, or robustness and flexibility, these mechanisms need to be clearly stated. An organization may have an experiment driven work place culture or an already established and well-rehearsed business continuity plan. Documentation of such mechanisms are crucial to this dataset.

7) Internal versus External Sources: Once the mechanism is clearly identified, the contributor should determine whether this is internal to an organization or external to it. While mindfulness in organizations counts as an internal source of resilience, redundant ties with suppliers would be external.

8) Before/After the Shock: Resilience may be built at any stage with respect to the shock. While preparative practices are done before a shock, collective coordination during the response to the shock will kick in only afterwards. Hence, temporal aspect is very important. (See Conz and Magnani, 2020)

Please contact me using the form in the next page to share your contribution!