Resilience of social systems

Similarly to ecosystems, social systems – from firms to countries – are becoming more and more subject to various stressors whose effects penetrate throughout the system by means of social ties and economic links. The external disturbances here may be of political, economic, financial and even environmental nature.

Social systems, internet © carloscastilla | iStock

Social systems, internet

Scientists investigate the role of the early information of changes (weak signals) as a source of resilience of an organization [1].

The Complex Adaptive Systems theory is used to analyze the impact of system features, such as connectivity and feedback loops, on the outcome of the scanning process. The results of the project “Seven Shocks and Finland” (2011), funded by a consortium of Finnish Governmental Agencies, were also documented [2].

The project revealed the seven most important potential shocks which a Finnish economy may undergo in the short- and medium-time horizon:

  • collapse of internet,
  • the EU falling apart,
  • extreme weather events,
  • Nokia leaving Finland,
  • global forestry consolidation,
  • fall of price for energy, and
  • stagnation of Chinese economy.

It also analyzed the uncertainties and resilience requirements emerging from the complexity of the global social, political, economic and social systems.


[1] Ilmola-Sheppard L, Kuusi O (2013). Information filters as one of the means of managing strategic fit in a complex environment. Foresight, 15(2):132-151 (April).
[2] Casti JL, Ilmola L (2012). 7 Shocks and Finland. Project Report, IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria (February).


ASA’s main collaborators in the field of Resilience of social systems include J. Casti, Senior Scientific Advisor, Stevens Institute of Technology, USA, J. Ramirez-Marquz, Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology, USA; Y. Yamagata, Professor, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan; T. Bruderman, Assistant Professor, Graz University, Austria; S.Park, Senior Research Fellow, Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI), Korea.

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Last edited: 21 May 2014


Leena Ilmola-Sheppard

Senior Research Scholar

Advanced Systems Analysis

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