Module 1 – Case
Introduction and Organizations as Socio-technical Systems
Trident University International (TUI)
Dr. Mary Lind
The Case for this module centers on an organization implementing a new computer-based information processing system. Thousands of organizations go through the same kind of process every day—you yourself may have been involved in one or more such "technology transformations." Despite this body of experience; the advice of thousands of consultants, researchers, and computer gurus; and the leverage of multibillion-dollar corporations such as Microsoft, Google, and Oracle; a large proportion of these transformations fail to achieve their goals or result in more complications than they seem to be worth. Why is this, and can applying a socio-technical perspective improve the odds of success?
Start by familiarizing yourself with the socio-technical idea and vocabulary; good sources include those listed below. Although some references are more than five years old, they include a classical approach to the STS theory.
Association of Information Systems. (n.d.). Socio-technical theory. Retrieved from http://www.fsc.yorku.ca/york/istheory/wiki/index.php/Socio-technical_theory
ComputingCases.org. (2011). Why a Socio-Technical system? Retrieved from http://computingcases.org/general_tools/sia/socio_tech_system.html
Scacchi, W. (2003). Socio-Technical-Design.pdf. Institute for Software Research, Univ. of Wisconsin.
Once you are familiar with socio-technical terms, read the following case study:
Painter, B. (2004). Socio-Technical Design of Knowledge Work: A Case Study
After reading and thinking about the case in relation to the other readings, write a short paper on the following topic:
Which was more important in shaping the final outcome in Painter's case study—the organization's technical system or its social system? Why?
Describe what you see as the critical elements of both the technical system and the social system, and how they interacted over the course of the implementation. Identify what you see as the key turning points in the process, and how the resolution reflected the influence and function of each system.
Case Assignment Expectations
Reflect on your description and analysis (and perhaps adjust it accordingly), ensuring that you integrate insight and learning from various sources. Remember that these Cases require at least five academically relevant in-text citations and full references. Also, be sure to use enough concurrent discussion so that the purpose of each citation is apparent to the reader. (Note that the paper is incomplete without five academically relevant references. Articles from sources such as CIO and HBR are acceptable. You may also use military/corporate references, but they do not count as one of the required five sources.) Importance of the final outcome
In order to determine which was more important in shaping the final outcome in Painter’s case study, we must first define the terms and provide a reference point for Social, Technical, and Socio-Technical Systems (STS). For the purposes of this paper, a social system is defined as the people in a society considered as a system organized by a characteristic pattern of relationships (The Free Dictionary, n.d.), whereas, a technical system comprises the devices, tools and techniques needed to transform inputs into outputs in a way which enhances the economic performance of the organization (Association of Information Systems, n.d.). Finally, we have a Socio-Technical System, when used in organizational development, is a mixture of people and technology (ComputingCases.org, 2011). An STS adds social requirements to human-computer interaction (HCI) requirements, which already add to technical (hardware and software) requirements. Socio-technical systems use technology to connect people...