Socio‐technical systems theory: an intervention strategy for organizational development

Steven H. Appelbaum (Professor of Management, Faculty of Commerce & Administration, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 1 August 1997


Integrating organizational development (OD) and technological intervention into a total system is one of the more difficult tasks for an executive or consultant to execute. Organizations are profoundly affected by technological advancements and require a flexible customized change model to fit the social network of the specific organization into which technology is being introduced. Examines sociotechnical systems (STS) theory and presents classical organization theories of Burns and Stalker, Woodward, Perrow, Thompson and Trist to develop a contemporary OD intervention in terms of self‐regulating work groups (self‐leading or self‐managing teams) performing interrelated technological tasks. Finally, presents some pointers for executives and consultants in assessing STS interventions via 31 diagnostic questions intended to identify interactions among elements of the system.



Appelbaum, S. (1997), "Socio‐technical systems theory: an intervention strategy for organizational development", Management Decision, Vol. 35 No. 6, pp. 452-463.

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Copyright © 1997, MCB UP Limited

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