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Resilient Systems

Resilient Systems aims to clarify the dangers posed by instabilities of key systems, to detail what events may trigger a crash, and to identify fixes.

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Built to Break

The world has become increasingly dependent on one or two suppliers for key materials and parts. Barry C. Lynn traces the history of this trend and explains how poor political decisions have created a fragile global system susceptible to industrial crashes.

Power Failure

In the wake of WWII, U.S. leaders engineered an international system to distribute opportunity, wealth, and power as widely as possible. Two new books try to explain America’s present standing in the world by looking to its past -– yet overlook this key history.

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Isolated Crisis, Sprawling Ripples

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March triggered the worst industrial disruption since World War II. At the 2011 Bretton Woods Conference, Barry C. Lynn explained how extreme concentration of capacity heightens the risk of these industrial crashes.

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How Detroit Went Bottom-Up

Over the last three decades, outsourcing and new antitrust law have led to a drastic restructuring of the auto industry. The resulting monopolization of its supply base critically undermines the stability and sustainability of the entire industry.

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How America Hands China the Power to Cut Us Off

Barry C. Lynn speaks with Dylan Ratigan to explain how the fixation with efficiency has led to monopolistic control over and complete off-shoring of vital products, resulting in a vulnerable system that threatens us all.

About This Project

As societies come to depend ever more on big and complex systems – such as world-spanning communications, finance, and production networks – the art and science of distributing political and physical risks become that much more important.

Sometimes we fall short. In recent years we have witnessed a terrifying new phenomenon––the crash of entire industrial and banking systems due to cut off of a single city, a single factory, or a single bank. Many different events may trigger such a crash. But all crashes share a single characteristic: too much capacity, hence too much risk, concentrated in one place.

The Project investigates the root causes and dynamics of this huge and growing danger; convenes engineers, business managers, policymakers, and security experts to identify solutions; and works with news media to deepen the public’s understanding of this threat. The aim is to promote the resilience of key systems by redistributing risk, power, and opportunity among more people.

To learn more, please click here.


  • Ralph Gomory, former director of R&D for IBM, president emeritus Sloan Foundation
  • George Scalise, former chairman San Francisco Federal Reserve, former president Semiconductor Industry Association, former EVP of Apple
  • Richard A. Clarke, former national coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism, author of Against All Enemies
  • Arthur Hartman, former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union and a principle actor in the design of the European Coal and Steel agreement
  • Stephen Flynn, director of the Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security, Northeastern University, author of America the Vulnerable
  • Joan Z. Bernstein, former director of the Consumer Protection Commission
  • John Bruton, former EU ambassador to the United States
  • Charles Perrow, Yale sociologist, author of the classic study of risk mitigation Normal Accidents
  • Michael Osterholm, epidemiologist with the CDC and CIDRAP in Minnesota, and an expert on medical production systems
  • Christopher Gopal, supply chain engineer who designed Dell Computer's original trans-Pacific production and sourcing system