On the Resilience of Sociotechnical Systems

  • Eloise TaysomEmail author
  • Nathan Crilly
Part of the Translational Systems Sciences book series (TSS, volume 8)


When designing or redesigning sociotechnical systems, it is often required that those systems be more “resilient’’ as a result. However, exactly what is meant by resilience in these contexts is unclear. To design resilient systems, we must first be able to answer a number of questions, including: Should a resilient system change to accommodate influences or stay the same? If the system changes, where should this change take place? How do we decide which system, or sub-system, to make resilient? For any given system, answering these questions requires engagement with different stakeholders, allowing a conversation to take place that typically spans different disciplines. However, resilience is a difficult concept to communicate about because terminology is not used consistently across, or even within, domains. This presents a challenge for designers wishing to elicit or understand stakeholders’ requirements for the systems that they are concerned with. To address this, we conducted a workshop with stakeholders working in different areas of academia, industry, and policy who are concerned with the resilience of sociotechnical systems. The aim of this workshop was to identify what stakeholders might want to convey about resilience and what would help them to communicate effectively. We identified three main characteristics of resilience and three system features that are critical to communication about resilience. These are all illustrated with a diagrammatic framework that was developed from real system examples given by the participants. From the data we propose a set of distinctions that offer a starting point for discussions about resilience with diverse stakeholders.



The authors wish to thank all of the workshop participants for their time and insights. Thanks also go to Belen Tejada Romero for her help in organizing the event and transcribing the data and to Dr. Chih-Chen for her constructive comments. This work was supported by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through a Doctoral Training Grant awarded to Eloise Taysom and an Early Career Fellowship awarded to Nathan Crilly (EP/K008196/1). The raw data from the workshop cannot be made freely available because inherent to that data is sensitive information relating to the individuals and organizations involved.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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