Steven H. Appelbaum Professor of Management, Faculty of Commerce & Administration, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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 socio-technical 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 selfregulating work groups (selfleading 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.
The organization as a socio-technical system
Integrating organizational development (OD) and technological intervention into a total system is one of the more difficult tasks for a consultant to execute. This challenge demands that the OD consultant possess expertise and judgement in social, technological and systems theory and practice. This type of change is a complicated and delicate process. It is complicated because of the many areas and systems involved and it is delicate because of the dynamic relationship among these systems within the environment. Changes that support organizational development goals must consider how relationships among the various systems will be affected as they all are interdependent. An element common to organizations is the need to remain viable. To do so, organizations need to utilize new technologies to gain a competitive advantage. Massive
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Application questions 1 Think of an organization you know well using the Socio-Technical Systems Theory frameworks. What is its applied use? 2 As a senior manager, where should attention to organizational design come on your list of priorities? Where does it come in reality? What are the one or two most crucial areas for attention of leaders in orgnizations? [ 463 ]