The emergence and resilience of self-organized governance in coupled infrastructure systems

Rachata Muneepeerakul, John M. Anderies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Studies of small-scale, self-organized social-ecological systems have contributed to our understanding of successful governance of shared resources. However, the lack of formal analytically tractable models of such coupled infrastructure systems makes it difficult to connect this understanding to such concepts as stability, robustness, and resilience, which are increasingly important in considering such systems. In this paper, we mathematically operationalize a widely used conceptual framework via a stylized dynamical model. The model yields a wide range of system outcomes: sustainability or collapse, infrastructure at full or partial capacity, and social agents seeking outside opportunities or exclusively engaging in the system. The low dimensionality of the model enables us to derive these conditions in clear relationships of biophysical and social factors describing the coupled system. Analysis of the model further reveals regime shifts, trade-offs, and potential pitfalls that one may face in governing these self-organized systems. The intuition and insights derived from the model lay ground for more rigorous treatment of robustness and resilience of self-organized coupled infrastructure systems, which can lead to more effective governance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4617-4622
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 3 2020


  • Coupled natural-human systems
  • Governance challenges
  • Regime shift
  • Resilience
  • Social-ecological systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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