I see now what you mean by “real” resilience. It is a very intuitive concept, but at the same time, you must admit, it is pretty abstract. Can principle of resilience actually be used in a concrete way on higher, complex scales of interrelations? You are the expert in urban governance networks. How do you apply this in your work?
I believe it can. The main principles in today’s literature for designing a resilient system are derived form observing ecological resilient systems, and they also work in human systems. When I use term resilience in my research, it is connected to the resilience of the social-ecological systems, where the social and ecological structures are seen as a one unit. I would point out four practical ways forward for building resilient social ecologic systems. Those are maintaining diversity and redundancy, optimising connectivity, encouraging learning and experimentation, and broadening participation.
How the diversity topic relates to the cities? Diversity of what exactly? And, why is it important anyway to maintain the redundancy and diversity in the city?
The rationale behind the discussion about importance of diversity and redundancy in any system is that the more diverse species, landscape types, knowledge systems, actors, social groups or institutions are, they can provide more ways to responding to change and disturbance.
When we’re speaking on organisational level, it is proved that variety of organisational forms, e.g., government departments, non-governmental organisations, community organisations, with overlapping domains of authority can provide redundancy and diversity.
The reason for that is that organisations with different sizes, cultures, funding mechanisms and internal structures are likely to respond differently to various economic and political changes, so the chance to successfully implement any project increases. For example, if there’s a city office, and a NGO, and a grass root organisation all dealing with the green infrastructure project implementation, and there’s a sudden change of funding, or crucial actor suddenly leaves the project, there’s higher chance to keep the project going efficiently, than if there’s just one office in charge.
So, those are the reasons for sustaining diversity on the organisational level. Does that logic also apply on the individual level?
Yes, sustaining diverse groups of individual actors with different roles are also critical, with their overlapping functions and different strengths in performance during different phases of project implementation.
In my work I’ve been concerned with the effective knowledge management, trying to figure out how can knowledge that actors hold actually be utilised. One of the fundamental points in knowledge management in any organisational system is that higher diversity of knowledge enhances resilience of the governance network.
Greater actors’ diversity of knowledge and experience leads to greater range of possible responses, of finding creative solutions to changes or disturbances that threaten the project implementation.