Applying Socio-technical Thinking in the Competitive, Agile, Lean, Data-Driven World of Knowledge Work and Smart, Service-Oriented, Customer-Centric Value Creation Ecosystems

Steven Alter


This article responds to a need for a socio-technical systems (STS) perspective that fits in a world that has changed greatly over the decades since the socio-technical movement began. This article identifies conditions and paradoxes that limit traditional STS approaches in current business practice. A newer work system perspective (WSP) combines aspects of work system theory (WST), WST extensions, and the work system method (WSM). This WSP frames socio-technical thinking in a straightforward way that helps in describing and discussing socio-technical systems. It also provides many ideas that can help in negotiating and designing improvements. After summarizing WSP and some of its possible applications to work systems, this article uses the various topics in its title to indicate how WSP-based socio-technical thinking might be more suitable for today’s world.


Socio-technical System; Work System; Socio-technical Design; Socio-technical Thinking; Work System Theory; Work System Method

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DOI: 10.7250/csimq.2019-18.01


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doi: 10.1109/TEM.2023.3338572


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