Holistic infrastructure resilience research requires multiple perspectives, not just multiple disciplines

John E. Thomas, Daniel A. Eisenberg, Thomas P. Seager

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Resilience research includes multiple definitions, concepts, perspectives, and applications across a broad range of academic disciplines. While experts, policy-makers, and practitioners assert that resilience requires holism, what is considered holistic is rarely discussed. The traditional scientific approach to holism is to engage multiple disciplines. However, this review studies an alternative approach to holism that engages multiple perspectives, as suggested by integral theory. An integral approach requires consideration of at least four irreducible domains: (1) subjective experience, (2) intersubjective culture, (3) objective behavior, and (4) interobjective systems. This way of approaching holism both engages multiple disciplines and reveals important gaps in the popular understanding of resilient infrastructure. For example, organizing the 20 most highly cited resilience research articles from all disciplines according to the Integral Map reveals that most articles in the sample set are distributed among three of the four perspectives corresponding to experience, behavior, and systems. None of the most popular articles studies resilience through the lens of culture. Thus, the importance of factors such as organizational values and group intentionality may be underappreciated in the scholarly literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 10 2018


  • Holism
  • Holistic
  • Infrastructure
  • Integral
  • Resilience
  • Resilient infrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Materials Science(all)


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