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Socio-technical Design of Computer-Assisted Work: A discussion of the ETHICS and Tavistock approaches

Publiceringsår: 1989
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 43-71
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems
Volym: 1
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Institute of Electronic Systems, University of Aalborg


In the paper the major sources of influence on the socio-technical perspective are identified and two socio-technical approaches are compared, namely the Tavistock approach and the ETHICS method developed by Mumford. The Tavistock approach has provided crucial contributions at the work system level, particularly principles for socio-technical design and models for job design (how to design jobs as well as criteria for jobs design). The ETHICS method aims to apply socio-technical thinking to the design of computer assisted work. ETHICS draws heavily on the Tavistock approach. In addition, the framework for job satisfaction is influecned by the Parsonian pattern variables. A series of detailed models of ETHICS has been put forward. In the early detailed versions of ETHICS participation was not considered. The method has, however, become increasingly participative. Finally, there are important differences in how the Tavistock approach and the ETHICS method conceptualizes the social and the technical parts of a socio-technical system. Also they differ in terms of integrating the social and technical parts into a socio-technical system.


  • Information Systems, Social aspects
  • socio-technical system
  • Tavistock approach
  • ETHICS method
  • computer-assisted work
  • work design
  • information system design


  • ISSN: 0905-0167

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