Institutional interdependence and infrastructure resilience

Changdeok Gim, Clark A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Enhancing the resilience of infrastructure to climate change requires attending to the interdependencies that occur among complex configurations of social, ecological, and technological systems (SETS). This entails extending analyses of infrastructure resilience beyond engineering assessments of the physical interdependencies among infrastructure systems to also include assessments of the social and environmental linkages that connect infrastructures together and create both new forms of vulnerability in interdependent systems and pathways through which failures can potentially cascade during disasters. In this article, we suggest that institutions—defined as regularized patterns and routines in the dynamics of social activities, values, relationships, and rules—form a key social element that creates interdependencies in SETS and therefore deserve special attention in efforts to map the vulnerability and resilience of complex, multi-infrastructure systems. Specifically, we propose a framework for institutional analysis that differentiates among three kinds of institutional interdependencies: vertical interdependencies between levels of institutional hierarchy; lateral interdependencies between different sectors or geographies; and longitudinal interdependencies through time. Illustrating the application of this framework in a case study of water and energy systems and institutions in Arizona, we suggest that infrastructure planning, design, and management needs to attend carefully to institutional interdependencies to strengthen the resilience of infrastructure systems to the challenges of climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101203
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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