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Article
Publication date: 1 November 2021

Roba Abbas and Albert Munoz

To explore the value and the case for designing antifragile socio-technical information systems (IS) in an era of big data, moving beyond traditional notions of IS design

Abstract

Purpose

To explore the value and the case for designing antifragile socio-technical information systems (IS) in an era of big data, moving beyond traditional notions of IS design towards systems that can leverage uncertainty for gains.

Design/methodology/approach

A design science research (DSR) approach was adopted, comprising four stages, including problem identification and solutions definition, conceptual artifact or socio-technical system design, preliminary evaluation, and communication and knowledge capture.

Findings

A conceptual socio-technical artifact that identifies antecedents to antifragile IS design. When operationalised, the antecedents may produce the desired antifragile outcome. The antecedents are categorised as value propositions, design decisions and system capabilities.

Research limitations/implications

This research is conceptual in nature, applied and evaluated in a single big data analytics case study in Facebook-Cambridge Analytica. Future research should empirically validate across a range of real-world big data contexts, beyond the presented case study.

Practical implications

Uncertainty generally results in socio-technical system failures, impacting individuals, organisations and communities. Conversely, antifragile IS can respond favourably to the shocks and stressors brought forth by periods of elevated uncertainty.

Social implications

Antifragile IS can drive socio-technical systems to respond favourably to uncertainty and stressors. Typically, these socio-technical systems are large, complex structures, with increased connectivity and the requirement to generate, process, analyse and use large datasets. When these systems fail, it affects individuals, organisations and communities.

Originality/value

Existing IS design methodologies and frameworks largely ignore antifragility as a possible designable outcome. Extant research is limited to abstract architectural design, and approaches based on the proposition of principles. This research contributes to knowledge of antifragile IS design, by deriving a conceptual artifact or socio-technical system based on antecedent-outcome relationships that leverage uncertainty towards performance gains.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 34 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 23 October 2007

Terence Love and Trudi Cooper

This paper sets out to report on research by the authors into the development and application of four extensions to Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety (LoRV) that increase…

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550

Abstract

Purpose

This paper sets out to report on research by the authors into the development and application of four extensions to Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety (LoRV) that increase its utility in the arena of unplanned changes in hegemonic control of designed complex socio‐technical systems/digital eco‐systems in the built environment that are structurally dynamic or emergent.

Design/methodology/approach

Research on which the paper is based focused on exploration of classical systems approaches to the design of complex socio‐technical systems in which ownership, power, control and management of structure and benefit generation and distribution are distributed, dynamic and multi‐constituent. Support for development of these four extensions to Ashby's Law comes from observation of four decades of socio‐technical systems development along with critical thinking that combined systems analysis theories with theories and findings from fields of hegemonic analysis, design research, management, management information systems, behaviour in organisations and sociology.

Findings

The paper outlines application of four new extensions to LoRV in relation to unplanned changes in distributions of power, ownership, control, benefit generation and benefit distribution in complex socio‐technical systems/digital eco‐systems in the built environment that are emergent or have changing structures. Three of these extensions have been outlined earlier in relation to the design of learning object‐based e‐learning systems. The fourth extension builds on these via application of Coasian analysis. The paper also describes a suite of five guidelines to assist with the design of complex socio‐technical systems derived from the four extensions to Ashby.

Research limitations/implications

The four extensions of Ashby's Law that underpin the design guidelines in this paper are deduced from observation and critical analysis rather than being “proven” empirically. They are derived from observation of the behaviour of real‐world complex systems together with critical analytical thinking that integrated theory and research findings from a range of disciplines where each informs understanding of hegemonic aspects of emergent complex socio‐technical systems involving multiple, changing constituencies, and evolving system structures.

Practical implications

A design method is derived comprising five design guidelines for use in pre‐design and design of complex socio‐technical systems/digital eco‐systems in the built environment.

Originality/value

The paper describes the application of four new extensions to LoRV that extend the analytical role of Ashby's Law in diagnosis of changes in power relations and unintended design outcomes from changes in the generation and control of variety in complex, multi‐layered and hierarchical socio‐technical systems that have multiple stakeholders and constituencies. From these, a suite of five new design guidelines is proposed.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 36 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1984

Joyce M. Ranney and Carolyn E. Carder

The purpose of this article is to discuss the application of socio‐technical design concepts and methods to office settings. Certain translations and modifications for…

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to discuss the application of socio‐technical design concepts and methods to office settings. Certain translations and modifications for offices are necessary in order to use socio‐technical methods, originally developed for use in factory settings. We will briefly review the socio‐technical systems history and approach, discuss design concepts and principles, describe two office cases, and identify important consulting issues for managers and implementors of office technology.

Details

Office Technology and People, vol. 2 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0167-5710

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Article
Publication date: 11 February 2019

Masike Malatji, Sune Von Solms and Annlizé Marnewick

This paper aims to identify and appropriately respond to any socio-technical gaps within organisational information and cybersecurity practices. This culminates in the…

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1182

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to identify and appropriately respond to any socio-technical gaps within organisational information and cybersecurity practices. This culminates in the equal emphasis of both the social, technical and environmental factors affecting security practices.

Design/methodology/approach

The socio-technical systems theory was used to develop a conceptual process model for analysing organisational practices in terms of their social, technical and environmental influence. The conceptual process model was then applied to specifically analyse some selected information and cybersecurity frameworks. The outcome of this exercise culminated in the design of a socio-technical systems cybersecurity framework that can be applied to any new or existing information and cybersecurity solutions in the organisation. A framework parameter to help continuously monitor the mutual alignment of the social, technical and environmental dimensions of the socio-technical systems cybersecurity framework was also introduced.

Findings

The results indicate a positive application of the socio-technical systems theory to the information and cybersecurity domain. In particular, the application of the conceptual process model is able to successfully categorise the selected information and cybersecurity practices into either social, technical or environmental practices. However, the validation of the socio-technical systems cybersecurity framework requires time and continuous monitoring in a real-life environment.

Practical implications

This research is beneficial to chief security officers, risk managers, information technology managers, security professionals and academics. They will gain more knowledge and understanding about the need to highlight the equal importance of both the social, technical and environmental dimensions of information and cybersecurity. Further, the less emphasised dimension is posited to open an equal but mutual security vulnerability gap as the more emphasised dimension. Both dimensions must, therefore, equally and jointly be emphasised for optimal security performance in the organisation.

Originality/value

The application of socio-technical systems theory to the information and cybersecurity domain has not received much attention. In this regard, the research adds value to the information and cybersecurity studies where too much emphasis is placed on security software and hardware capabilities.

Details

Information & Computer Security, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-4961

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2001

Richard Badham, Karin Garrety and Christina Kirsch

The political nature of technology design and implementation is explicitly addressed in “human centred” projects to introduce technologies that support job enrichment…

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1636

Abstract

The political nature of technology design and implementation is explicitly addressed in “human centred” projects to introduce technologies that support job enrichment, group autonomy and industrial democracy. Yet the political meaning of such projects does not simply manifest itself in pure form from the methods employed or the intentions of the humanistic actors but, rather, from the complex configuration of these and other factors present in the design and implementation context. Illustrates this theme in an analysis of a case study human centred project. Argues that an improved understanding of the configurational politics surrounding such projects is not only an important research area but is also of practical significance in improving humanistic and other interventions in innovation processes in modern organisations.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1975

James C. Taylor

For me, the human side of work is the most important aspect in any consideration of jobs and organizations. Hospital organizations, for example, are made up of people…

Abstract

For me, the human side of work is the most important aspect in any consideration of jobs and organizations. Hospital organizations, for example, are made up of people, their jobs are, of course, done by people, and the results of that work are for people — whether they be direct recipients such as patients, or customers; or whether they be the indirect recipients such as the community, or the employees themselves. The dilemma is highlighted by asking, why do we so often separate the effects of work on the humans involved in its production, from the effects on humans as recipients of its end result? I will posit that if work is consciously designed as a meaningful activity for the people involved in its production, then chances are good that its product will also better suit its human users. That is, there is a systemic relationship between the quality of working life and the quality of the product of that work. In so saying however we must likewise acknowledge the importance of the technical requirements of the work — for having meaning to the people involved is not enough. Work that is meaningfully arranged, both for the humans involved in its execution and for its technical requirements, typically results in a higher quality product and, not infrequently, in greater productivity as well. In our experience results are frequently accompanied by lowered absenteeism and turnover and greater feelings of satisfaction with the work activity. Work system design, or socio‐technical system design, is a powerful approach to this human side of work — work that is meaningful in both that human sense, as well as the technical sense.

Details

Personnel Review, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0048-3486

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1997

Steven H. Appelbaum

Integrating organizational development (OD) and technological intervention into a total system is one of the more difficult tasks for an executive or consultant to…

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11676

Abstract

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.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 35 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Book part
Publication date: 10 August 2018

Susan Albers Mohrman and Stu Winby

We argue that in order to address the contemporary challenges that organizations and societies are facing, the field of organization development (OD) requires frameworks…

Abstract

We argue that in order to address the contemporary challenges that organizations and societies are facing, the field of organization development (OD) requires frameworks and skills to focus on the eco-system as the level of analysis. In a world that has become economically, socially, and technologically highly connected, approaches that foster the optimization of specific actors in the eco-system, such as individual corporations, result in sub-optimization of the sustainability of the natural and social system because there is insufficient offset to the ego-centric purposes of the focal organization. We discuss the need for OD to broaden focus to deal with technological advances that enable new ways of organizing at the eco-system level, and to deal with the challenges to sustainable development. Case examples from healthcare and the agri-foods industry illustrate the kinds of development approaches that are required for the development of healthy eco-systems. We do not suggest fundamental changes in the identity of the field of organizational development. In fact, we demonstrate the need to dig deeply into the open systems and socio-technical roots of the field, and to translate the traditional values and approaches of OD to continue to be relevant in today’s dynamic interdependent world.

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Article
Publication date: 27 September 2011

Nandish V. Patel and Ahmad Ghoneim

The aim of this paper is to examine empirically the relevance of the theory of deferred action for knowledge management systems (KMS) design in practice.

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1510

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to examine empirically the relevance of the theory of deferred action for knowledge management systems (KMS) design in practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts a case study approach to examine knowledge work and knowledge management in virtual teamwork in a large UK telecommunications company to understand the occurrence of emergent knowledge and how it is managed by virtual team leaders. The section in the company studied is described as a “knowledge intensive organization” dealing with the company's e‐commerce activities.

Findings

The analysis confirms the complex adaptive system hypothesis – a complex system adapts to its environment through self‐organization. The data reveal the behaviour of the virtual team to be self‐organizing and adaptive to its environment. It confirms the knowledge tacitness hypothesis and social embeddedness of knowledge hypothesis as important determinants of knowledge sharing. Specifically, the data reveal the main issues concerning knowledge sharing practices of virtual team workers and the crucial team leader's role in the effectiveness of the teams' capability to develop social links to externalise and share tacit knowledge to accomplish tasks.

Research limitations/implications

In this paper, the authors contribute “emergent knowledge” as a third category of organizational knowledge in addition to the existing tacit and explicit knowledge that needs to be considered when designing KMS. It also derives socio‐technical systems design principles based on the theory of deferred action, and a tentative development process with metrics is then proposed for KMS design that caters for emergent, tacit, and explicit knowledge.

Practical implications

Existing models such as the SECI model do not acknowledge emergent knowledge or its conversion into explicit knowledge. The theory of deferred action is invoked to derive design principles, termed deferred systems design principles, to depict how explicit knowledge, tacit knowledge, and emergent knowledge can be represented to design knowledge management systems for “emergent organizations”.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the limited research and lack of consideration of emergent knowledge as an integral part of organizational knowledge, especially in an era of emergent organizations.

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Article
Publication date: 2 July 2019

Dennis B. Desmond, David Lacey and Paul Salmon

The purpose of this paper is to present the findings from a literature review, which aimed to identify previous studies evaluating cryptolaundering from a systems thinking…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the findings from a literature review, which aimed to identify previous studies evaluating cryptolaundering from a systems thinking perspective. The aim of this paper is to first confirm that cryptolaundering systems can indeed be defined as complex socio-technical systems and second to present the findings from a systematic review of the literature to determine the extent to which previous research has adopted a systems thinking perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

The study involved a SLR of studies published in the peer-reviewed literature between 2009 and 2018. Rasmussen’s risk management framework (Rasmussen, 1997) was used to evaluate the extent to which a systems thinking perspective had been adopted.

Findings

The cryptolaundering process is considered to be a complex socio-technical system. The review demonstrates that no previous studies have defined cryptolaundering as a complex socio-technical system or used systems thinking framework approach to evaluate how criminals, regulatory bodies or law enforcement entities understand processes and assess risk within cryptolaundering systems. It is argued that using such an approach to the cryptolaundering process would likely improve assessing criminal risk analyses of cryptolaundering and assist law enforcement and regulatory bodies with understanding risk management during the laundering of cryptocurrencies.

Originality/value

Future assessments of cryptolaundering using socio-technical system analytical processes may afford law enforcement and regulatory bodies the opportunity to improve intervention techniques and identify gaps in regulations and enforcement.

Details

Journal of Money Laundering Control, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1368-5201

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