ABSTRACT

Socio-technical systems design (STSD) is again at a parting of ways. Some forty years have elapsed since its conception at the London Tavistock Institute (Trist and Bamforth 1951; Trist and Murray 1991). The classical STSD views and change methodologies, well documented in the literature, are becoming less and less popular. Conceptual inadequacies, restrictive emphasis on the work group level, and expert-led application scenarios have gradually been identified as the major weaknesses of the original approach (Van der Zwaan 1975; Emery, M. 1989; De Sitter et al. 1990). After four decades our models and methods are much more elaborated. Rapid technological and cultural change have called for further adjustments and regional developments of the socio-technical inheritance, and we now have more solidly anchored systems concepts, multi-level design options, and participative change procedures. In North America, Australia and Europe, new and innovative STSD approaches have been emerging, mainly on a local level.