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Introducing Flexibility to Complex, Resilient Socio-Ecological Systems: A Comparative Analysis of Economics, Flexible Manufacturing Systems, Evolutionary Biology, and Supply Chain Management

Asokan, VA; Yarime, M; Esteban, M; (2017) Introducing Flexibility to Complex, Resilient Socio-Ecological Systems: A Comparative Analysis of Economics, Flexible Manufacturing Systems, Evolutionary Biology, and Supply Chain Management. Sustainability , 9 (7) , Article 1091. 10.3390/su9071091. Green open access

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Abstract

In this paper, a framework incorporating flexibility as a characteristic is proposed for designing complex, resilient socio-ecological systems. In an interconnected complex system, flexibility allows prompt deployment of resources where they are needed and is crucial for both innovation and robustness. A comparative analysis of flexible manufacturing systems, economics, evolutionary biology, and supply chain management is conducted to identify the most important characteristics of flexibility. Evolutionary biology emphasises overlapping functions and multi-functionality, which allow a system with structurally different elements to perform the same function, enhancing resilience. In economics, marginal cost and marginal expected profit are factors that are considered to be important in incorporating flexibility while making changes to the system. In flexible manufacturing systems, the size of choice sets is important in creating flexibility, as initial actions preserve more options for future actions that will enhance resilience. Given the dynamic nature of flexibility, identifying the characteristics that can lead to flexibility will introduce a crucial dimension to designing resilient and sustainable socio-ecological systems with a long-term perspective in mind.

Type: Article
Title: Introducing Flexibility to Complex, Resilient Socio-Ecological Systems: A Comparative Analysis of Economics, Flexible Manufacturing Systems, Evolutionary Biology, and Supply Chain Management
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/su9071091
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.3390/su9071091
Language: English
Additional information: © 2017 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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: flexibility; resilience; sustainability; socio-ecological system
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > STEaPP
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10053510
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