Complex Systems Research Centre - Cranfield School of Management

Cranfield School of Management


Welcome to the Cranfield Complex Systems Research Centre

The aim of the Complex Systems Research Centre (CSRC) is to develop and present the theory and implications of Complex Systems thinking for Management Science - both as a collaborative research theme, and as an integrating conceptual framework. It provides an overarching scientific perspective within which strategy, operations, human resources, economics and finance all find their place.

In the CSRC complex systems thinking is applied to a wide variety of issues, supported in the main by UK Research Council or European Union funding. The research undertaken covers a wide range of themes, such as new product/service definition and development, developing innovative organizations, the evolution of market systems and business sectors, the limits to knowledge and the building of resilient and sustainable systems.

We are currently running the following research projects, all of which are inter-university collaborations:  ICIF utility interdependecy is a major research theme and we are part of the new International Centre for Infrastructure Futures large research project, led by UCL; EU-InnovatE a European FP7 project under the Sustainable Lifestyles and the Green Economy in Europe theme which is modelling sustainable user innovation within sustainable scenarios (SPREAD); Falcon Project which tests a range of network and commercial management methods for increasing the local grid's capacity for handling increased demand and local generation. Falcon is led by Cranfield's IVHM Centre. Water Energy Food: STEPPING UP which emerged as one of three successfully funded proposals from the EPSRC Water Energy Food (WEF) Nexus Sandpit.  The project started in October 2015.

Forthcoming project:   Engineering Complexity Resilience Network Plus (ENCORE) has been announced as one of the successful bids from the EPSRC's "Engineering Grand challenges" call.

Recently completed projects include:Land of the MUSCos, a business model investigation of Multi-Utility Service Companies; CASCADE which took a complex systems perspective to Smart Grids and Distributed Energy Generation; ABI3L an agent based model for multi-modal freight transport; TUCP which modelled utility interdependence in critical infrastructure; and All-in-One, a feasibility analysis for supplying all services through one utility product.

The CSRC is active in complex systems networks both in Europe and internationally:

  • The Complex Systems Society,, which organizes the annual week-long  Complex Systems Conference one of the largest and most inspiring events of the year.  In 2015 it was held in Tempe, Arizona from 28 September to 2 October, see
  •  The UK Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium, through the CSRC work on utility infrastructure projects (TUCP, MUSCos and All-in-One)
  • FuturICT,, a flagship project connecting ICT with social science, and complexity science. Our relationship with UCL and interest in modelling of complex systems connects us closely to the grand plans of this flagship venture.
  • Center for Supply Networks (CaSN) at Arizona State University via associations with Tom Choi and Kevin Dooley.
  • Phoenix CASoS Engineering, Sandia National Laboratories

A particular area of expertise of the CSRC is that of the importance of creativity and learning in the design and innovation process. The capacity of a firm or an organisation to co-evolve successfully with its surroundings is closely related to its ability to acquire, contextualize and implement appropriate new product designs, new domains of activity and new organisational practices. The ideas behind complex systems provide a conceptual framework, and real advice concerning the mechanisms of exploration and learning and the necessary features of organisational cultures that will be able to do this.

The Centre offers opportunities to research these issues in private and public sector organisations, to provide courses and training material for managers concerning these ideas. The Centre also welcomes and supports PhD and Executive Doctorate students wishing to research into the implications and methods of implementation of complex systems thinking in real situations.  For details of Doctoral Opportunities, click here.

Knowledge Interchange

Book Summaries - Strategy, Complexity and Change Management

Hot Topics - Strategy, Complexity and Change Management

Research Insights - Strategy

Critical Guides

Strategy, Complexity and Change Management


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