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Cornish miners in California: 150 years of a unique sociotechnical system

Frederick Wolf (School of Business, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, USA)
Bruce Finnie (School of Business, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, USA)
Linda Gibson (School of Business, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, USA)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 11 April 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine a unique sociotechnical system in its historical context to better understand and appreciate how a naturalistic organization enacted five key characteristics identified as critical to sociotechnical systems by theorists hundreds of years after the fact.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents an examination of the history and context of this unique method of organizing. The literature of sociotechnical systems was examined and five guiding principles are identified which provide the framework for this evaluation.

Findings

A sociotechnical system with naturalistic origins is identified, described, and discussed; providing fresh insights into the nature of sociotechnical systems and there enactment.

Originality/value

This is a unique case not previously identified in the literature of management and organizations. It should be of particular interest to scholars interested in sociotechnical systems.

Keywords

Citation

Wolf, F., Finnie, B. and Gibson, L. (2008), "Cornish miners in California: 150 years of a unique sociotechnical system", Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 144-160. https://doi.org/10.1108/17511340810860267

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited