Linking Humanity with Performability through Social - Technical Systems Theory
Volume 6, Number 1, January 2010 - Paper 7 - pp. 89-99
JOHN P ULHØI and FRANCES JØRGENSENCenter for Organizational Renewal and Evolution,
Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University
Haslegaardsvej 10, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark
(Received on June 30, 2009, revised on August 19, 2009)
It has become an unfortunate truism that most engineered change initiatives in organizations fail. One of the primary reasons that the expectations for especially large technological changes are so rarely realized is a lack of attention given to the necessary and unavoidable interactions that occur between technological and psycho-social dimensions of new system designs. In this paper, we build a theoretical argument for taking a broader approach to performability engineering that views the psycho-social dynamics as a critical aspect of successful organizational performance. We ground this argument on a socio-technical systems theory foundation that has been used for more than 50 years to explain technological change failures as well as to design and implement successful change initiatives that encompass all of the different elements of the system design within an organizational context. The paper concludes with insights into some of the benefits and challenges to applying a social-technical systems theory perspective to performability engineering in empirical settings.
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