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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: 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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1174

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: 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: 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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Article
Publication date: 7 January 2014

Andrea J. Hester

This paper aims to examine organizational information systems based on Web 2.0 technology as socio-technical systems that involve interacting relationships among actors…

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1199

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine organizational information systems based on Web 2.0 technology as socio-technical systems that involve interacting relationships among actors, structure, tasks and technology. Alignment within the relationships may facilitate increased technology use; however, gaps in alignment may impede technology use and result in poor performance or system failure. The technology examined is an organizational wiki used for collaborative knowledge management.

Design/methodology/approach

Results of a survey administered to employees of an organization providing cloud computing services are presented. The research model depicts the socio-technical component relationships and their influence on use of the wiki. Hierarchical latent variable modelling is used to operationalize the six main constructs. Hypotheses propose that as alignment of a relationship increases, wiki use increases. The partial least squares (PLS) method is used to examine the hypotheses.

Findings

Based on the results, increased perceptions of alignment among technology and structure increase wiki use. Further analysis indicates that low usage may be linked to gaps in alignment. Many respondents with lower usage scores also indicated “low alignment” among actor-task, actor-technology, and task-structure.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size is rather small; however, results may give an indication as to the appropriateness of dimensions chosen to represent the alignment relationships. Socio-technical systems theory (STS) is often utilized in qualitative studies. This paper introduces a measurement instrument designed to evaluate STS through quantitative analysis.

Practical implications

User acceptance and change management continue to be important topics for both researchers and practitioners. The model proposed here provides measures that may reveal predictive indicators for increased information system use. Alternatively, practitioners may be able to utilize a diagnostic tool as presented here to assess underlying factors that may be impeding effective technology utilization.

Originality/value

The paper presents a diagnostic tool that may help management to better uncover misaligned relationships leading to underutilization of technology. Practical advice and guidelines are provided allowing for a plan to rectify the situation and improve technology usage and performance outcomes.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 21 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2021

Lakshminarayana Kompella

This paper aims to explain transitions in a socio-technical system characterized by non-economic entities that influence economic activity, i.e. embeddedness and…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explain transitions in a socio-technical system characterized by non-economic entities that influence economic activity, i.e. embeddedness and coalitions. The selected socio-technical system is an Indian electric network with an interventionist policy. Its embeddedness and coalitions drive the transition. The insights from such analysis expand socio-technical transition theory and provide valuable insights to practitioners in their policymaking.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors need to observe the effects of non-economic institutions in their setting. Moreover, in India, the regional policies influence decision-making; therefore, selected two Indian states. The two Indian states, along with their non-economic entities, provided diverse analytic and heuristic views.

Findings

The findings show that coalitions, with their embeddedness in the absence of any mediating policy systems, act as external pressures and influence innovation and the socio-technical system’s transition trajectory. Their coalitions’ embeddedness follows a shaping, not selection logic. Thereby influence innovations in cumulating as stable designs. Such an approach provides benefits in the short-term but not in the long-term.

Research limitations/implications

The study selected two states and examined two of the four trajectories. By considering other states, the authors can obtain more renewable energy investments and further insights into the transformational trajectory.

Practical implications

The study highlights the coalition dynamics specific to the Indian electric power network and its transition trajectories. The non-economic entities influenced transition trajectories, innovation and policymaking of the socio-technical system.

Originality/value

The study expands the socio-technical transition theory by including embeddedness. The embeddedness brings a shaping logic instead of a selection logic.

Details

International Journal of Energy Sector Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1750-6220

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2000

Marvin Washington and Marla Hacker

The concepts of joint optimization and socio‐technical systems have been in the literature for over 40 years. However, efforts to operationalize these concepts for…

Abstract

The concepts of joint optimization and socio‐technical systems have been in the literature for over 40 years. However, efforts to operationalize these concepts for managerial practice have not progressed at the same pace as the theory on joint optimization has advanced. This paper represents an effort to turn the theoretical concept of joint optimization into managerial practice by introducing the concept of system equivalence. In this paper system equivalence (the level at which all three systems (social, technical, and environmental) are mutually equivalent in value (is described to indicate how it should be used. This paper then discusses the usefulness of this concept for managerial practice.

Details

Measuring Business Excellence, vol. 4 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1368-3047

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1993

Godwin J. Udo

Discusses how most organizations use formal methods which arepurely objective and rational to evaluate system projects. Such methodsare incapable of capturing the social…

Abstract

Discusses how most organizations use formal methods which are purely objective and rational to evaluate system projects. Such methods are incapable of capturing the social aspects of system projects and as such are not appropriate. Inappropriate evaluation mechanisms and criteria have caused the detrimental effects of organizational bias to flourish, thereby defeating the purposes of project evaluation. Organizations, either knowingly or unknowingly, are judging instead of evaluating projects with the intention to punish or reward the project teams and so encourage biasing effects. Contends that an effective project evaluation should adopt a socio‐technical approach to reflect the socio‐technical nature of information systems. Describes and illustrates managerial guidelines on socio‐technical approach to project evaluation capable of accounting and controlling for the obvious effects of organizational bias.

Details

Industrial Management & Data Systems, vol. 93 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-5577

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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: 4 August 2020

Donghee Shin and Mohammed Ibahrine

With the conceptualization of the blockchain as a socio-technical assemblage, this study aims to critically examine the blockchain initiatives in Korea in terms of the…

Abstract

Purpose

With the conceptualization of the blockchain as a socio-technical assemblage, this study aims to critically examine the blockchain initiatives in Korea in terms of the opportunities, risks and challenges embedded in their development.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper analyzes blockchain design and development from socioecological views: social, technological and cultural phenomena that represent the strategic interaction among people, technology and society. The qualitative data were collected from a variety of sources and diverse means.

Findings

The results imply that blockchain needs a close socio-technical examination to avoid simplistic assumptions of its promises and pitfalls. The development of blockchains in Korea will need to consider a range of socio-technical issues to facilitate the best outcomes for blockchain in society.

Research limitations/implications

Despite proactive drives, new risks, such as security, privacy and transparency, emerge as critical concerns of the social implications of the blockchain and their impact on the new digital environment. Questions are raised as to how to govern blockchains, and how to address the unexpected outcomes that such a policy choice may have on society and industry.

Originality/value

The sociopolitical implications of Korean blockchains are examined to identify key concerns and issues as the country progresses rapidly toward a blockchain-driven society.

Details

Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-5038

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