Abstract for: A Simple System Dynamics Model for the Collapse of Complex Societies

This paper aims to show that incremental stress over environment can lead civilizations to overshoot their resource base as it has been suggested, for instance, by Jared Diamond. Despite this author has recently been criticized by scholars of different orientations, we think this criticism has likely been exaggerated. Diamond`s answers to the critics are not always entirely convincing indeed, but that is because he apparently does not have a clear understanding of stock-flow dynamics. Hence, it seems likely that system dynamics reasoning might give more solid grounds to some of his insights under criticism. In this paper we intend specifically to show that, unlike the dominant view in the recent literature on the subject, societal collapses can occur even in the absence of extreme unexpected events, but just because the society has crossed a turning point beyond which traditional social practices can become inadequate to deal with environmental shocks like droughts. In order to accomplish this goal, the paper builds a model for the Maya society based on the Rudolph and Reppening`s model for explaining the role the quantity of non-novel events play in precipitating disasters in organizations.