Socio-Technical Systems: Transforming Theory into Practice
This paper critically examines the evolution of socio-technical systems theory, its practices, and challenges in system design and development. It examines concepts put forward by researchers focusing on the application of the theory in software engineering. There are various methods developed that use socio-technical concepts based on systems engineering without remarkable success. The main constraint is the large amount of data and inefficient techniques used in the application of the concepts in system engineering for developing time-bound systems and within a limited/controlled budget. This paper critically examines each of the methods, highlight bottlenecks and suggest the way forward. Since socio-technical systems theory only explains what to do, but not how doing it, hence engineers are not using the concept to save time, costs and reduce risks associated with new frameworks. Hence, a new framework, which can be considered as a practical approach is proposed that borrows concepts from soft systems method, agile systems development and object-oriented analysis and design to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The approach will enable the development of systems using socio-technical systems theory to attract/enable the system engineers/software developers to use socio-technical systems theory in building worthwhile information systems to avoid fragilities and hostilities in the work environment.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1316221Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 1802
 A. Elbanna and M. Newman, "The rise and decline of the ETHICS methodology of systems implementation: lessons for IS research," Journal of Information Technology, vol. 28, p. 124–136, 2013.
 S. Sawyer and M. H. Jarrahi, "Sociotechnical approaches to the study of Information Systems," Chapman and Hall, Syracuse, 2013.
 R. R. Hoffman, G. Klein and K. R. Laughery, "The State of Cognitive Systems Engineering," IEEE Intelligent Systems, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 73-75, 2002.
 B. Whitworth and A. Ahmad, "Socio-Technical System Design," in The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed, Hershey, Interaction Design Foundation, 2013, p. Chapter 24.
 B. Whitworth, "A Brief Introduction to Sociotechnical Systems," in Encyclopeda of Information Science and Technology, K. Klinger, J. Neidig, J. Snavey, C. Coulson and L. Tosheff, Eds., Hershey, New York, Information Science Reference (IGI Global), 2009, pp. 394-400.
 E. Coiera, "Putting the technical back into socio-technical systems research," international journal of medical informatics, 2006.
 A. Morris, "Socio-Technical Systems in ICT: A Comprehensive Survey," Trento (Italy), University of Trento, 2009.
 P. Adman and L. Warren, "Participatory sociotechnical design of organizations and information systems – an adaptation of ETHICS methodology," Journal of Information Technology, vol. 15, p. 39–51, 2000.
 M. K. Yurtseven and W. W. Buchanan, "Socio-technical system design: a general systems theory perspective," in VIII International Conference on Engineering and Computer Education, Luanda, Angola, 2013.
 V. Ghaffarian, "The New System of Soci Technical Approach and Main Stream of Information Research," in World Conference on Information Technology, Tehran, IRAN, 2010.
 P. Bednar and M. Sadok, "A Socio-Technical Toolbox for Business System Analysis and Design," Portsmouth, 2015.
 G. Baxter and I. Sommerville, "Socio-technical Systems: From Design Methods to Systems Engineering," Interacting with Computers, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 4-17, 2011.
 M. Sadok and C. E. Welch, "A socio-technical Approach to Sustainability in Organization: An Explatory Study," Portsmouth, 2017.
 B. Whitworth, "The Social Requirements of Technical Systems," Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand, 2009.
 E. Mumford, "The story of socio-technical design: reflections on its successes, failures and potential," Information Systems Journal, vol. 16, p. 317–342, 2006.
 S. Leitch and M. J. Warren, "ETHICS: The Past, Present and Future of Socio-Technical System Design," School of Information Systems, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia, 2014.
 University of St. Andrews, "University of St. Andrews: LSCITS Handbook of Socio-technical Systems Engineering," 2017.
[Online]. Available: http://archive.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/STSE-Handbook/.
[Accessed 21 12 2017].
 P. D. Maio, "Towards a Metamodel to Support the Joint Optimization of Socio Technical Systems," Systems, vol. 2, no. 10, pp. 273-296, 2014.
 D. Avison and G. Fitzgerald, Information Systems Development: Methodologies, Techniques and Tool, UK: McGraw-Hill Education, 2006.
 E. Mumford, S. Hickey and H. Mathies, Designing Human Systems: An Agile Update to ETHICS, Manchester: Manchester Business School, 1983.
 M. Sadok and P. M. Bednar, "Teaching Business Systems Analysis to Cyber-Security Managers: A Socio Technical Perspective," Portsmouth, 2017.
 S. Gasson, "Human-Centered vs. User-Centered Approaches to Information System Design," Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 29- 46, 2003.
 T. Herrmann and A. Nolte, "Sociotechnical Requirements-Specification – the example of continuous support for collaborative modelling and design," Ruhr-University of Bochum, Ruhr, 2015.
 S. Burge, "https://www.burgehugheswalsh.co.uk," 2015.
[Online]. Available: https://www.burgehugheswalsh.co.uk/Uploaded/1/Documents/Soft-Systems-Methodology.pdf.
[Accessed 04 08 2017].
 S. Gasson, "Improvising Design," 2017.
[Online]. Available: http://www.improvisingdesign.com/soft-systems-methodology-2/.
[Accessed 21 12 2017].
 C. Grosse, "Applying Systems Thinking onto Emergency Response Planning - Using Soft Systems Methodology to Structure National Act in Sweden," mid Sweden, 2017.
 A. Dennis, B. H. Wixom and R. M. Roth, Systems Analysis and Design, 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012. Morris, A., 2009. Socio-Technical Systems in ICT: A Comprehensive Survey, Trento, Italy: University of Trento.