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Lew, A.A. (2017). Modeling the Resilience Adaptive Cycle. Collaborative for Sustainable Tourism and Resilient Communities Blog (21 January). Retrieved from http://www.tourismcommunities.com/blog/modeling-the-resilience-adaptive-cycle.
- If you have any questions about these, feel free to send me an email using the comment box, below. - Alan Lew
The Adaptive Cycle was one of the early resilience theory concepts that captured the imagination of may researchers. Holling (2001) introduced the Adaptive Cycle as part of his systems approach to resilience theory using a 3-dimensional diagram, with the cycle moving in a roller coaster pattern among the three key variables of resilience, potential, and connectedness (see below). I think that this was probably too complex for many people to conceptualize, and so he simplified it into a two-dimensional diagram that showed the cycle as a figure 8 (or folded infinity loop) pattern, and which should be well known to most anyone interested in resilience theory and thinking.
While visually compelling, the figure 8 pattern is still unnecessarily complicated and makes implications that need to be explained away in one way or another. I personally prefer the more simple circle diagram what was introduced by Walker and Salt (2006). I have reconfigured their diagram below, which has the advantage of showing more clearly the Fore Loop (moving from (re)organization to exploitation to consolidation) and Back Loop (moving from consolidation to collapse and again back to (re)organization). This version, below, first appeared in Lew, 2016.
In addition to being posted here, with a creative commons copyright, this diagram will appear in: Bakti, L.A., Lew, A.A., and Kim, Y-S. (2017). A Resilient Approach to Collaborative Coral Reef Conservation on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. In A.A. Lew & J. Cheer, eds., Understanding Tourism Resilience: Adapting to Environmental Change, pp. (forthcoming). London: Routledge.
The first figure below shows all the likely paths that human social systems can take over time as they adapt to changing conditions. They may experience all four stages of the adaptive cycle, or they may only experience two or three of the stages. The major types that result are shown in three successive figures.
The Large and Small Cycles figure illustrates how some systems and processes move slowly through the four stages, possibly encompassing large amounts of resources and influences. These large and slow cycles are also sometime associated with slow, controlling variables. Other systems may move very quickly through the adaptive cycle stages, to the point where they may be largely imperceptible.
The Growth and Collapse Cycles figure shows how some stages may be completely avoided. A growth cycle occurs when the system anticipates vulnerabilities that may lead to collapse and plans for them by moving directly from the consolidation phase to the reorganization phase. If successful, this results in continual adaptation to changing conditions, as suggested by the ‘evolutionary resilience’ concept (Davoudi 2012). The collapse cycle is just the opposite. It is like the ‘poverty trap’ described by Allison and Hobbs (2004), in which a system is unable to effectively escape a constant state of decline. Efforts to reorganize are quickly coopted into rigid consolidation structures that collapse before a growth stage can ensue.
The final theoretical form that modeling the adaptive cycle in this way results in is a reorganizational cycle. Here the system never reaches a stage of consolidation, but is instead is continually reorganizing itself. While it does experience growth, it is not able to enjoy the fruits (or consolidate the benefits) of that growth, but immediately turns a reflexive eye toward restructuring itself. This might be an extreme version of evolutionary resilience, and while I do not have a good example, it seemed theoretically possible.
Allison, H.E. and Hobbs, R.J. (2004). Resilience, adaptive capacity, and the “Lock-in Trap” of the Western Australian agricultural region. Ecology and Society 9(1): 3. Online at http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss1/art3
Butler, R. (1980). The Concept of a Tourist Area Cycle of Evolution: Implications for Management of Resources. Canadian Geographer, 24(1), 5-12.
Davoudi, S. (2012). Resilience: A bridging concept of a dead end? Planning Theory and Practice, 13(2): 299–333, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14649357.2012.677124
Holling, C. S. (2001). Understand the in Complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems. Ecosystem, 4, 390-405.
Lew, A.A. 2013/2014. Scale, change and resilience in community tourism planning. Tourism Geographies 16(1): 14-22. DOI:10.1080/14616688.2013.864325
Lew, A.A., Ng, P.T., Wu, T-C, and Ni, C-C. (2016). Some New Resilience Figures and Diagrams. Collaborative for Sustainable Tourism and Resilient Communities Blog (30 September). Retrieved from http://www.tourismcommunities.com/blog/some-new-resilience-figures-and-diagrams.
Walker, B.H. and Salt, D. (2006). Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Washington: Island Press.