This conceptual paper is a step toward bridging the gap between thinking of systems as tools that are used and thinking of systems as sociotechnical systems with human participants. Its description of design spaces for sociotechnical systems applies a work system perspective. Its theory of sociotechnical design encompasses planned and unplanned change in those work systems. Its overall approach supports analysis and design at various levels of depth without implicitly biasing the result toward non-technical or technical aspects of the situation. The work system approach to sociotechnical design provides a path for going far beyond simple relationships between function and form. This paper summarizes aspects of that path, including: • Framework for summarizing work systems within organizations; • A theory of sociotechnical design; • Decomposition of work systems into subsystems and their interactions; • Parallel application of multiple design spaces organized around work system elements. The paper concludes by listing advantages of its approach to sociotechnical design.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stevenalter/15/