Handbook on Resilience of Socio-Technical Systems
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Handbook on Resilience of Socio-Technical Systems

Edited by Matthias Ruth and Stefan Goessling-Reisemann

The goal to improve the resilience of social systems – communities and their economies – is increasingly adopted by decision makers. This unique and comprehensive Handbook focuses on the interdependencies of these social systems and the technologies that support them. Special attention is given to the ways in which resilience is conceptualized by different disciplines, how resilience may be assessed, and how resilience strategies are implemented. Case illustrations are presented throughout to aid understanding.
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Chapter 4: Essentials of resilience, revisited

David D. Woods


This chapter reviews several ‘essentials’ that enable systems to perform resiliently. These essentials are concepts that have emerged from studies in multiple settings of what makes the difference between resilient performance and brittle collapse as surprises occur and disturbances cascade, regardless of the particular setting or scale. The chapter updates several of the essentials that emerged from the initial inquiries into resilience engineering and then covers additional essentials – initiative, managing the expression of initiative, and reciprocity. These are covered because they raise scientific challenges at the same time as they provide practical guidance to working organizations plagued by complexity, surprise and brittleness. The intention is to stimulate the process of discovery of the fundamentals that lead to resilient performance in complex systems.

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