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Supply networks existing today in many industries can behave as complex adaptive systems making them more difficult to analyze and assess. Being able to fully understand both the complex static and dynamic structures of a complex adaptive supply network (CASN) are key to being able to make more informed management decisions and prioritize resources and production throughout the network. Previous efforts to model and analyze CASN have been impeded by the complex, dynamic nature of the systems. However, drawing from other complex adaptive systems sciences, information theory provides a model-free methodology removing many of those barriers, especially concerning complex network structure and dynamics. With minimal information about the network nodes, transfer entropy can be used to reverse engineer the network structure while local transfer entropy can be used to analyze the network structure’s dynamics. Both simulated and real-world networks were analyzed using this methodology. Applying the methodology to CASNs allows the practitioner to capitalize on observations from the highly multidisciplinary field of information theory which provides insights into CASN’s self-organization, emergence, stability/instability, and distributed computation. This not only provides managers with a more thorough understanding of a system’s structure and dynamics for management purposes, but also opens up research opportunities into eventual strategies to monitor and manage emergence and adaption within the environment.


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This article belongs to the Special Issue of Entropy, "Transfer Entropy II."



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