Felix Reed-Tsochas

Felix Reed-Tsochas

Professor of Complex Systems


Saïd Business School University of Oxford Park End Street Oxford OX1 1HP

Profile

Alongside his role as a lecturer at the School, Felix is a Fellow of Green Templeton College. He is also a Director of the Complexity Economics Programme at INET Oxford, and a founding Co-Director of the CABDyN Complexity Centre.

With an academic background in theoretical condensed matter physics, Felix Reed-Tsochas’s work is being applied to a wide range of vitally important business, financial and social issues. These include modelling how interbank lending can generate contagion and instability in financial markets, with a view to understanding how regulation might contain such effects, and understanding what characteristics determine the resilience of supply chains in the face of both localised disruptions and potentially disastrous large-scale events. He is also exploring the impact on social science of the explosion of social media and mobile phone usage, and other technologies that capture human interactions and transactions, at a time of increasing computational power and novel computational techniques often imported from other disciplines.  This provides, for the first time, the necessary ingredients for a more scientific exploration of individual and collective human behaviour, with implications for a broad range of business and other activities.

The latter has broad relevance for Social Science research and Felix is engaged in teaching a course to doctoral students across Oxford University’s Social Science Division that includes some of these new techniques. As an example of this work, a widely-quoted study of data from all 2,705 Facebook apps that users could choose between in 2007 enabled Felix and fellow researcher Jukka-Pekka Onnela to identify the impact of social influence on user behaviour, and to show that this leads to unexpected dynamics in how the popularity of different Facebook apps evolves.

As Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Complexity, Felix is involved in research that seeks to develop new approaches for the management of systemic risk, based on an interdisciplinary perspective and comparative data analysis of systems in different domains, using tools such as complex network analysis and agent-based modelling. The scope of this work is being very significantly enhanced by the Complexity Economics Programme of INET Oxford, a major new interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Oxford set up by The Oxford Martin School and the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).  INET Oxford has the aim is to deepen our understanding of important economic phenomena, such as financial crises, economic growth, inequality, and technological innovation.

Felix is also leading a project for the Rockefeller Foundation on Resilience to investigate the key structures and mechanisms that generate resilience for systems characterised by high interconnectivity as well as risks of internal failure or external shocks. This can be applied to instabilities in our global banking networks, to the disruption of major supply chains, the fragility of threatened ecosystems and the ability of social systems to recover after disasters. The aim is to gain new perspectives on how to strengthen resilience in times of increasing volatility and uncertainty.

He is also working on a European Commission funded project – FOC (Forecasting financial crises) which seeks to develop novel measures of financial fragility, building on substantial empirical datasets and a distinctive networks perspective. FOC is coordinated by Guido Caldarelli of the Italian National Research Council (CNR, Rome), and involves partner institutions in Italy, the UK, Spain, and Switzerland, as well as the European Central Bank.

Felix is also a founding Co-Director of the CABDyN Complexity Centre, where CABDyN stands for Complex Agent-Based Dynamic Networks. CABDyN was launched in 2003 to coordinate complex systems research activities across Oxford and to build bridges between different disciplines using tools such as agent-based modelling and complex network analysis. Examples of such networks can be found in radically different domains, including biological networks, social and socio-economic networks, transport networks, and computer and communication networks; they can help our understanding of such phenomena as the formation of congestion, where faults in factory assembly lines may occur, or ways in which networks of financial firms operate – and sometimes fail. In addition, Felix is a member of the Department of Sociology, and a Research Associate of the Networks Cluster at the Advanced Studies Centre of Keble College.

Research

Felix has a variety of research interests.

His research has addressed the dynamic properties of large-scale collaboration and manufacturing networks, common structural features in organisational and ecological networks, the impact of imitation mechanisms on the emergence of cooperation, the robustness of ecological networks, and the spread of innovations in online social networks. These individual projects are linked by broader theoretical concerns, including the need to develop a more dynamic conception of network robustness and resilience, and an interest in identifying generative mechanisms that give rise to generic structures of cooperation.

View Felix's research.

Engagement

Felix works with a broad range of academics from other areas of study, both within Oxford University and from other world-class universities.

He has also contributed to the development of doctoral training programmes that serve the entire range of subject areas that sit within the Social Sciences Division.

Felix works with a wide range of international bodies concerned with the resilience of systems, from the operation and regulation of financial markets, where he is working on the European Commission funded FOC project as well as with the Bank of England, German Bundesbank and New York FED.

For the Rockefeller Foundation for Resilience project, Felix and his team will develop workshops. The first, New Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Measures and Models of Resilience, will bring together experts and academics to explore to what extent different perspectives on resilience can be integrated, and to what degree measures of resilience in one domain work in another. The second, Perspectives from Practice: Strategies for Resilience, will seek to engage policy-makers and practitioners to find out how adaptive strategies for resilience are currently implemented. It is expected that outcomes from these workshops will have a significant impact both on theory and practice, by integrating approaches that have arisen independently in different domains.

Felix’s work has been published in a number of eminent publications, including Nature, the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, European Management Review, Kellogg Insight; his research has also been quoted in The New York Times, The Economist, The New Scientist, and by the BBC.

Book series

Felix is Joint Series Editor (with Neil Johnson, University of Miami) of the World Scientific book series on Complex Systems and Interdisciplinary Science.

Teaching

Felix's teaching philosophy is to make his sessions highly interactive and, for the MBA, this draws on case studies to get his students involved.

Felix designed Managing Complexity: Markets, Networks and Innovations, an elective he delivers to MBA students. It recognises that some of the key challenges that business and society currently face require us to build new frameworks and tools to identify and characterise increasing levels of complexity, and to develop novel strategies for managing complexity successfully.

For doctoral students across Oxford’s Social Science Division – encompassing not only the business school but others including economics, policy, law, government, international development and anthropology. Felix teaches techniques that students will find useful from a social network perspective as part of an initiative to provide a more rigorous and broader training across departments.

The concept of networks and their importance is widely recognised in senior management, making this topic highly relevant in Executive Education. Felix has run courses on networks for Leadership programmes run by the Corporate Reputation Centre on leadership and on diploma programmes. He has also contributed to the Consulting and Coaching for Change programme.