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Adaptive Resilience of Complex Safety-Critical Sociotechnical Systems: Toward a Unified Conceptual Framework and Its Formalization

Vert, M., Sharpanskykh, A. & Curran, R. ORCID: 0009-0008-4349-4449 (2021). Adaptive Resilience of Complex Safety-Critical Sociotechnical Systems: Toward a Unified Conceptual Framework and Its Formalization. Sustainability, 13(24), article number 13915. doi: 10.3390/su132413915


Resilience is commonly understood as the capacity for a system to maintain a desirable state while undergoing adversity or to return to a desirable state as quickly as possible after being impacted. In this paper, we focus on resilience for complex sociotechnical systems (STS), specifically those where safety is an important aspect. Two main desiderata for safety-critical STS to be resilient are adaptive capacity and adaptation. Formal studies integrating human cognition and social aspects are needed to quantify the capacity to adapt and the effects of adaptation. We propose a conceptual framework to elaborate on the concept of resilience of safety-critical STS, based on adaptive capacity and adaptation and how this can be formalized. A set of mechanisms is identified that is necessary for STS to have the capacity to adapt. Mechanisms belonging to adaptive capacity include situation awareness, sensemaking, monitoring, decision-making, coordination, and learning. It is posited that the two mechanisms required to perform adaptation are anticipation and responding. This framework attempts to coherently integrate the key components of the multifaceted concept of STS adaptive resilience. This can then be used to pursue the formal representation of adaptive resilience, its modeling, and its operationalization in real-world safety-critical STS.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Publisher Keywords: resilience; adaptive capacity; conceptual framework; sociotechnical systems; safety-critical systems; robustness
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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