Collectives form non-equilibrium social structures characterised by a volatile dynamics. Individuals join or leave. Social relations change quickly. Therefore, differently from engineered or ecological systems, a resilient reference state cannot be defined. We propose a novel resilience measure combining two dimensions: robustness and adaptivity. We demonstrate how they can be quantified using data from a software developer collective. Our analysis reveals a resilience life cycle, i.e., stages of increasing resilience are followed by stages of decreasing resilience. We explain the reasons for these observed dynamics and provide a formal model to reproduce them. The resilience life cycle allows distinguishing between short-term resilience, given by a sequence of resilient states, and long-term resilience, which requires collectives to survive through different cycles.

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