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by: Burnice Carter DVM

PractIBProfServices PSY791C

Burnice Carter DVM
GPA 3.72


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Class Notes
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This 17 page Class Notes was uploaded by Burnice Carter DVM on Monday October 5, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PSY791C at Central Michigan University taught by Staff in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see /class/218946/psy791c-central-michigan-university in Psychlogy at Central Michigan University.


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Date Created: 10/05/15
Amw was LEW m Sociotechnical Systems 2 I Table of Contents 2 II Acknowledgments 3 111 Introduction What are Sociotechnical Systems 4 IV Principles of Sociotechnical Design 5 V A Sociotechnical Design Method 12 VI Summary 17 Sociotechnical Systems 3 This guide draws heavily from some key resources relating to sociotechnical systems The references are presented in the order in which they would appear if internally cited throughout this document The introduction paraphrases the description of sociotechnical systems as de ned by Cummings and Worley Their treatment of the topic is brief but presents a good overview The description of selfmanaged work teams is very helpful Cummings TG amp Worley CG 2001 Organization development anal change 73911 edition Cincinnati OH SouthWestem College Publishing The section relating to the principles of sociotechnical design is based on the landmark articles by Chems His original 1976 article is still being cited today His followup article in 1987 extended and expanded on his original set of sociotechnical principles Chems A 1976 The principles of sociotechnical design Human Relations 298 783 792 Chems A 1987 Principles of sociotechnical design revisited Human Relations 403 153162 The method of sociotechnical systems design re ects the work of Waterson Gray amp Clegg Their method was used to redesign a British naval command subsystem Waterson PE Gray MTO amp Clegg CW 2002 A sociotechnical method for designing work systems Human Factors 443 376391 Sociotechnical Systems 4 What are Sociotechnical Systems 4 The sociotechnical systems approach is one way to design and implement all the functional processes of the workplace 4 The sociotechnical systems approach was developed at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in London Its popularity spread across Europe before coming to the United States 4amp There are two assumptions underlying the sociotechnical systems approach One assumption is that the organization is a system that represents the function of the people and the technology within it The other assumption is the organization as a system is open to the environment There are two outcomes from sociotechnical systems products and socialpsychological consequences Products are the goods and services created by the organization and socialpsychological consequences are internal states within people such as job satisfaction or organizational commitment that are produced as a result of working in the system The aim of the sociotechnical systems approach is to maximize both of these outcomes known as joint optimization 5 Boundary management is the process by which the organizational system has both the freedom to function and adapt while exchanging inputs and outputs with the environment Sociotechnical Systems 5 There are 10 general principles of sociotechnical design These principles have become the standard for defining and developing organizations through the sociotechnical systems method They will each be described in this section of the guide 9 Compatibility 9 Minimal Critical Specification 0 Variance Control 0 Boundary Location 0 Information Flow 0 Power and Authority 0 The Multifunctional Principle 9 Support Congruence D Transitional Organization 0 Incompletion Sociotechnical Systems 6 0 The first principle compatibility is arguably the most important The design of the system must match the objectives of the system 0 For example if one objective of the system is participative management then the design of the system must involve the participation of invested parties 0 However involving nearly everyone in the system can be problematic and lead to con ict Therefore the use of consensus decisionmaking by the designers will help solve some of the con icts o Every decision made about the system design should incorporate both technical and social considerations 0 The second principle minimal critical specification has two main parts One part is that essential elements of the system have to be specified Another part is that anything nonessential should not be specified 0 While these two parts seem contradictory they mostly point out that keeping options open is the best way to operate By specifying non essential elements of they system one has limited the system s exibility and ability for the system to adapt to changing environmental conditions Sociotechnical Systems 0 For example in a manufacturing system it could be considered 0 essential for the finished products to be transferred from the production center to the quality control center before shipping However one should not immediately specify exactly how the products should be transferred Alternative ways for transferring products should be developed through consensus and examined later to determine the most efficient way In the end it is best to keep in mind that there is no one best way to achieve objectives There are certainly differences in legal or ethical aspects of achieving objectives but keeping realistic options open is the key to exibility The third principle variance control does not refer to variance in the statistical sense Variance in sociotechnical terms is an unprogrammed event that can critically affect system outcomes Variance needs to be minimized One common problem is that organizations use techniques that fix the consequences of variance rather than the source of them One example is a quality control mechanism in a system Traditionally in organizations quality control represents a separate department from the production or manufacturing departments The quality control department does not fix the source of variance within products but rather the consequences of them removes and recycles defective output If some kind of inspection is in place within the production department then people can judge their own work and learn from their mistakes Miscommunication across departments also leads to variance Following the quality control example from above an inspection process within the production department reduces the amount of mis communication across departments about inspection This allows the 7 Sociotechnical Systems 8 people most involved in the production of output to be responsible for the variance within it The fourth principle boundary location relates to the boundaries between departments In particular sociotechnical design recognizes that boundaries should not interfere with the sharing of information knowledge and learning One way to reduce this kind of inference is to adjust the boundaries between departments between departments and the whole organization and between the organization and the environment If this is done then the manager or supervisor of a department should take on more of a coordinator role The supervisor should ensure that the department is coordinating with other departments smoothly The fifth principle information flow deals with the dispersion of information in the system This principle assumes that organizational information can be used for control records and action Typically information used for control can be abused by authority and in power games Information used for records is important but can be exploited For example laws might require collecting information about production techniques and schedules but some individuals might be tempted to use the information to intervene or harass others The most important information is used for action This type of information should be given to those who need it in order to act upon Sociotechnical Systems 9 it If a team or department directly receives the information it needs to perform then there can be little variance due to misinformation from outside or hierarchical sources The sixth principle power and authority is a twofold concept relating to the role of power and authority over resources in the system One aspect is that people who require certain resources eg materials and equipment should have access to them and authority over them The second aspect is that people who have access and authority over resources should be responsible for them and demonstrate discretion when using them In other words people should take responsibility for the resources they need in order to perform their tasks The seventh principle the multifunctional principle describes the adaptability of the organizational system Most often parts of the organization will have to adapt to other parts of the organization There are two ways in which this is done One way the organization can adapt is by adding new roles Adding roles can be tricky as new roles may alter hierarchies communication or the allocation of resources Sociotechnical Systems 10 o The other way for the organization to adapt is by modifying current roles Generally changing current roles can be less difficult than adding roles because it does not disrupt the established chain of command or communication links 0 The eighth principle support congruence refers to the desired similarity between reward systems and management philosophy 0 For example if team performance and responsibility is required and evaluated therefore part of the management philosophy then team performance should be reinforced and rewarded Rewarding individual efforts in this case is not consistent with the management philosophy 9 The ninth principle the transitional organization addresses what should be done when the organization is in a state of change This can be more difficult than it seems at first glance For example how does one maintain a central line of production while configuring and training for a new line of production 0 One action that is frequently discounted is the selfselection of individuals An alternative to screening out individuals for new jobs departments or developments is to allow the workers themselves to decide if they want the job Assuming that the workers are already qualified their selfselection will aid in the process of change Sociotechnical Systems 11 0 Training can also be improved through selfselection If certain workers do not want to take on the new responsibilities or tasks then there is no need to train them 0 If the organizational change does involve a reduction in the workforce then the organization should aid the individuals who are leaving The tenth principle incompletion stresses the need for ongoing evaluation and redesign o Recognizing that the environment is dynamic all organizational systems should have an evaluative aspect that can constantly monitor and start the process of change and redesign o The fundamental point behind this principle is that stability is an illusion and is merely a moment between transitions Sociotechnical Systems 12 A Sociotechnical Design Method One sociotechnical method for designing work systems consists of seven stages Note that throughout this method the principles of sociotechnical design are expressed quite clearly Each stage will be described in this section of the guide I Formation of Overall View of the System I Initial Mandatory Allocations I Allocations Between Humans and Machines I Allocations Between Humans I Dynamic Allocations I Global Examination of Allocations I Proposed Allocations Sociotechnical Systems 13 Formation of Overall View of the System I The first stage involves a breakdown and analysis of the current system that will be changed Common categories of criteria for comparison include vision scopeboundary the reason for vision level of automation structure roles and benefitscosts The implications and rationale for each category will also be defined I For each of these criterion categories the designers can identify the practices and functions of the current system Then they can create some desirable alternatives for each category For example if the current level of automation is low some alternatives could include increasing the level of automation up to the point of removing the human element from particular practices Once the overall View of the system has been established all the tasks can be analyzed within the system It should be possible to roughly describe all the tasks to be performed within the system and how they relate to achieving objectives For example under the level of automation category for a given department it is now possible to describe each task and how it will be performed with limited technology through complete automation etc Initial Mandatory Allocations I The second stage is a broad analysis of the alternatives presented in the overall View of the system This analysis is mostly based on logistical legal and safety requirements Sociotechnical Systems 14 I The designers must decide if the alternatives meet certain regulations or are even feasible to explore For example one alternative might call for a certain level of automation that is not technically feasible Furthermore a given level of automation may not even be legal many industry regulations specify which tasks must be performed by a machine or by a human Therefore any alternatives that do not meet the requirements must be eliminated Allocations between Humans and Machines I The third stage breaks down the allocation of tasks to humans and machines even further For every task to be performed the designers must assign it to humans machines or some combination of each I Assuming that there are alternative ways of performing tasks regarding mandatory allocations from the second stage the designers must weigh the tradeoffs involved with each way For example using total automation for a new production task might require extensive maintenance but the alternative is hiring or training twice as many workers for that department as there were before Allocations Between Humans I The fourth stage focuses on the allocation of tasks among the humans in the organizational system Specifically the current roles are identified and then alternative roles or role modifications are created I One option is to identify tasks that can be assigned to multiple roles Then it is possible to modify those roles so they can include the shared tasks Sociotechnical Systems 15 Dynamic Allocations I The fifth stage involves creating optional allocations of tasks to either humans or machines This creates exibility in the system operations I For example optional task allocations can be used during periods of high or low activity If the workload of tasks at a certain time of year were too high for a given role then it would be advantageous to allow additional roles to share those tasks These optional allocations can include both human and machine interactions I In addition there might be circumstances where a certain amount of overlap is desirable Developing dynamic allocations allows for additional human operators or technological systems to verify the tasks or output of others Global Examination of Allocations I The sixth stage is a review of the assignment of tasks and the arrangements made within the proposed system I All of the allocations must be checked to ensure that the categories of criteria from the first stage of the system will be met Furthermore the desired alternatives need to be measured with respect to the current technology and personnel available If the technology or personnel does not allow for the alternatives to be met then the alternative allocations must be reassessed Sociotechnical Systems 16 I Constraints on the system must also be considered A review of the dynamic allocations will help determine whether or not the system will be exible enough to handle unexpected environmental factors Proposed Allocations I The seventh and final stage is a complete record of the decisions made using this method I It should include all the proposed roles both human and machine in the system the desired alternatives the design decisions and the preferences and rationale for each choice Sociotechnical Systems 17 Summary w The sociotechnical system is one method for designing organizations and work systems This method is characterized by the balance of the human social and technological elements of the organization Q The sociotechnical systems method considers organizations to be systems that are open to the environment Consequently organizations are exible and should be able to respond and adapt to environmental changes 4 There are ten principles of sociotechnical design In general these principles guide the design of an organizational system so that it is responsive efficient and maximizes coordination O The ten design principles also guide the reduction and correction of sources of variance Variance includes any unintended or unexpected event that impedes system outcomes 9 One example of a sociotechnical work design has seven stages Throughout the stages the tradeoffs of allocating tasks and activities to the human or technological elements of the organization are being analyzed 1 First and foremost legal ethical and practical restrictions must be observed In addition different levels of humantechnology interaction can be explored


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