Approaches for measuring resilience

Unsurprisingly given the ambiguity around resilience definitions and concepts, there is a lack of agreed approaches to measuring resilience.

While many different approaches are available, the concept seems hard to operationalise in practice. This implies that care should be taken when interpreting resilience studies.

In general, the measurement approaches used in studies about economic resilience tend to be equilibrium-based ones – they assume some sort of ‘return to normal’ following a single shock. Indicators include time to recovery for the relevant variable, and avoidance of losses following the particular shock.

The evolutionary perspective of resilience, while valuable, is hard to measure as it requires a long-term, systemic view of system performance. Assessing the resilience of a system, by drawing on a range of different data and methods, seems to be more useful and practical than measuring resilience via a single metric or model.

Encouragingly, studies of rural resilience and other aspects of resilience in New Zealand have tended to use mixed methods approaches and to take a long-term view, per the evolutionary perspective. Other New Zealand studies, while not labelled as resilience ones, have examined the nature and effects of specific shocks.

Last updated: 03 July 2023