Book Review: How Nature Works

per-bak-how-nature-worksHow Nature works is a fascinating book. I first heard of the late Per Bak and his sandpile theories when I some time back read an article by Koubatis and Schönberger (1995) on Risk management of complex critical systems. At that time I had just discovered the International Journal of Critical Infrastructure, and I was perusing their archives for articles I could use in my research on transportation vulnerability. Koubatis and Schönberger actually consider Per Bak’s “sandpile” model to be as relevant to business and society as Adam Smith’s legendary “invisible hand”. When I read that I was simply compelled to investigate more.

Self-organized systems

I looked up Per Bak on Wikipedia and was intrigued by his theories, but I put it aside as not particularly relevant to me at that time. Currently I am writing a book chapter on risks in Virtual Enterprise Networks (VENs), as described by Ken Thompson in The Networked Enterprise and it was as a background for VENs that Per Bak’s sandpile model came into my mind again. A VEN is a collection of loosely coupled businesses, self-organized and more efficient than traditional businesses, and it’s the self-organizing concept that I needed to understand more about. How nature works provided me with that understanding. Chapter 11 on economics was particularly helpful here. Actually, every economist should read that chapter. It has certainly widened my horizon. How Nature Works


Koubatis, A., & Schönberger, J. Y. (2005). Risk management of complex critical systems. International Journal of Critical Infrastructures, 1(2/3), 195-215.

Tags: , , , , ,
Building a secure and resilient supply chain
Are you gambling with your supply network? You should be aware that the supply network is inherently[...]
Risk management: core competence?
Is risk management overlooked as an important source of competitive advantage? That is the question [...]
Mitigating Supply Chain Vulnerability
I'm a quantitative researcher, so I usually shy away from journal articles with too many equations a[...]
Low Cost Country Sourcing
Low-cost countries. A dream for some and a nightmare for other others. What are typical supply chain[...]
Book Review: Virtual Teams
This is another post resulting from my literature review when researching background material for my[...]
The Resilient Organization
What does it mean to be a resilient organization? That is the topic of  The Resilient Organization, [...]
Assess the vulnerability of your production system
So far I have reviewed "international" literature and web sites, and it is only fitting that now it [...]
America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
My daily morning routine includes a cup of coffee while watching the World Business Report on BBC Wo[...]
Highway Vulnerability and Criticality Assessment
Transportation vulnerability and resilience have been the focus of this blog for the past two days, [...]