Case Studies

The example networks that you can see were produced in the course of developing the complex control tool. The first is a causal network showing stakeholder perspectives on the development of the bio-based economy in the Humber region. It was created and refined with a group of key representatives from industry, local authorities and NGOs from the region.

The Humber region is one of the UK's most important energy hubs, with strategic energy generation facilities and infrastructure based around fossil fuels, and new investment in large-scale renewable energy technologies. The development of a bio-based economy has been recognised as a key opportunity for regional economic growth, due to the presence of required infrastructure and support industries and feedstock availability from the substantial agricultural hinterland and bulk imports via the large local ports. Numerous biodiesel and bioethanol facilities already exist or are under construction and the region expects to become the centre of an emerging UK biofuel industry responsible for 50% of UK production within the next five years. Significant investment is also underway in energy from biomass and biowaste facilities, alongside developments in biorefinery to produce high value chemicals. However, the Humber faces significant challenges as well as opportunities with transition to a low carbon economy. The estuary is of national and international biodiversity and conservation importance and due to climate change presents increasing flood risk management issues, both of these issues can cause friction over proposed development. Neighbouring communities face significant socio-economic problems including unemployment and fuel poverty. Development of the region and its economy is affected by, and affects, linked biophysical, industrial, economic, social and governance systems, populated by many diverse actors. Understanding and managing the interactions of the components of these systems as they develop will be crucial in addressing the balance between economic development, efficient use of resources, reduction in environmental impacts and job creation on a regional and national scale. CCTool was created with Humber stakeholders with the aim of designing model-based decision support tools for the region to facilitate effective management of the transition to a bio-based economy.

The second example network was produced in an internal ERIE project workshop. A group of colleagues collaboratively constructed a model of the factors affecting project productivity and their inter-relations based on their own experiences of working at the project “coalface”. The controllability analysis of this network was used to come up with grassroots strategies that junior researchers could employ and actions that they could take to try to ensure that the project was as productive as possible and met the needs of all involved.

Our two example show how this methodology can be usefully employed at any scale from international economics to within-organisation or person-centred issues.