Border security: a conceptual model of complexity
Stein, Teia N.
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This research applies complexity and system dynamics theory to the idea of border security, culminating in the development of a conceptual model that can be used to expand exploration of unconventional leverage points, better understand holistic implications of border policies, and improve sense making for homeland security. How can border security be characterized to better understand what it is, and why are so many divergent opinions being voiced on whether it can be achieved? By demonstrating the border as a complex adaptive system (CAS) through the use of graphic system dynamics models, exploring by way of example the influences surrounding the movement of trade and transnational terrorists across borders, four policy-centric pillars became evident: 1) institutional capacity, 2) criminal capacity, 3) ability to move people and goods across borders rapidly, and 4) operational capacity. Culture, identity, adversarial adaptation, enforcement, and moral values influence and are influenced by, perceptions of what are seen as threats. This research illustrates the value of thinking in systems (instead of missions or programs), challenges assumptions of what borders and border security are thought to be, and intends to inspire creativity in thinking about 21st century borders: what they represent and the challenges they pose.
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