Component and Service Scales

Systems change over time and space, it is unavoidable. To manage resilience, understanding that systems change across and influence multiple scales is needed. Scales above the focal system are also significant to maintaining resilience.

Components and processes occur at differing rates in comparison to others. Generally, smaller components at smaller scales act faster and change more frequently than larger components at greater scales (Gunderson, 2002). However there are exceptions. Societal attitudes in individual households can change at a much slower pace than in governmental institutions and global currency values can fluctuate faster than national interest rates. All scales should be evaluated as it is the cross scale interactions that can dramatically influence the system dynamics. If they can be identified than management practises can be altered or introduced to limit the potential damage that any interaction could do and is critical for any systems long-term resilience.

Figure 10 graphically represents a collection of processes and components that affect Port Phillip Bay.  Smaller and faster scales are dominated by environmental components. Large scale and slower components are those of global environmental processes and institutional changes. Societal components act at a range of scales but tend to change over greater periods of time. An exception occurs in times of crisis. Societies react and handle disasters very well in compassion to dealing with slower moving processes. Economically processes alter quicker at larger scales. Exchange rates and wholesale commodity prices fluctuate rapidly thanks to the ability of differing economies to interact in real-time. Personal incomes and retail prices alter slower due to global economic changes having to filter down.

Figure 10: Components and processes affecting Port Phillip Bay across time and space

The scales of change present managers with the ability to determine which components affect the system where and at what rate. Resilience is often controlled by a handful of components moving at a distinctive speed.  Their relationships and stochastic processes culminate in the system identity.

Previous: The Focal System

Next: Adaptive Cycle Indicators


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