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Computational Framework for Assessing Absorptive Capacity

PI: Jose Padilla, Old Dominion University

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Computational Framework for Assessing Absorptive Capacity

Principal Investigator: Jose Padilla, Old Dominion University

Co-Investigators: Erika Frydenlund - Old Dominion University; Joshua Behr - Old Dominion University; Michael Allen - Old Dominion University; and Anthony Barraco - Old Dominion University

Years of Award: 2019-2022

Managing Service Agency: Office of Naval Research

Project Description:

The movement of displaced populations into and through a host region’s territory place additional demands on critical infrastructure, engendering new, or exacerbating existing, racial, ethnic, or religious animosities as competition for resources intensifies and the network of systems that support food, sheltering, security, healthcare, and sanitation are strained. Host regions face the challenge of providing for the basic needs of the newly arrived populations dislocated either by short-term shocks, such as natural disasters and conflict in neighboring regions, or longer-term economic and environmental trends. Both theoretical development and applied modeling are required to better understand the capacity of a region’s systems and its population to absorb these increasing demands as well as to assess the impact that persistent supply-demand pressures may have on the governance and broader social issues of the host region.

This project examines the concept of absorptive capacity to provide insight into the dynamics of systems’ and populations’ stresses stemming from population movements. If successful, this project shall yield two significant outcomes: 1) advance a theory of absorptive capacity and 2) advance the methodological use of simulation for theory generation and knowledge creation. A theory of absorptive capacity will facilitate understanding of the relationships among supply-demand pressures considering long-term regional stability. A simulation-based methodology will allow researchers to not only extend the theory through the simulation, but also generate new knowledge and extend research on absorptive capacity. Such knowledge and insights may allow for the strategic timing of interventions designed to mitigate instability in host regions, lessening the potential for disruptive perturbations to become larger crises.