Sociotechnical system

Sociotechnical systems (STS) in organizational development is an approach to complex organizational work design that recognizes the interaction between people and technology in workplaces. The term also refer to coherent systems of human relations, technical objects, and cybernetic processes that inhere to large, complex infrastructures. Social society, and its constituent substructures, qualify as complex sociotechnical systems.[1]

The term sociotechnical systems was coined by Eric Trist, Ken Bamforth and Fred Emery, in the World War II era, based on their work with workers in English coal mines at the Tavistock Institute in London.[2] Sociotechnical systems pertains to theory regarding the social aspects of people and society and technical aspects of organizational structure and processes. Here, technical does not necessarily imply material technology. The focus is on procedures and related knowledge, i.e. it refers to the ancient Greek term techne. "Technical" is a term used to refer to structure and a broader sense of technicalities. Sociotechnical refers to the interrelatedness of social and technical aspects of an organization or the society as a whole.[3]

Sociotechnical theory is about joint optimization, with a shared emphasis on achievement of both excellence in technical performance and quality in people's work lives. Sociotechnical theory, as distinct from sociotechnical systems, proposes a number of different ways of achieving joint optimisation. They are usually based on designing different kinds of organisation, according to which the functional output of different sociotechnical elements leads to system efficiency, productive sustainability, user satisfaction, and change management.[4]


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