Human factors of complex sociotechnical systems

Appl Ergon. 2006 Jul;37(4):525-35. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2006.04.011. Epub 2006 Jun 6.


Increasingly products and services result from interactions among people who work across organizational, geographical, cultural and temporal boundaries. This has major implications for human factors and ergonomics (HFE), in particular, challenging the limits of the systems to be designed, and widening the range of system elements and dimensions that we need to consider. The design of sociotechnical systems that involve work across multiple boundaries requires better integration of the various sub-disciplines or components of HFE, as well as increased collaboration with other disciplines that provide either expertise regarding the domain of application or expertise in concepts that can enrich the system design. In addition, 'customers' contribute significantly to the 'co-production' of products/services, as well as to their quality/safety. The design of sociotechnical systems in collaboration with both the workers in the systems and the customers requires increasing attention not only to the design and implementation of systems, but also to the continuous adaptation and improvement of systems in collaboration with customers. This paper draws from research on human factors in the domains of health care and patient safety and of computer security.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation
  • Computer Security*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Ergonomics*
  • Humans
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Care / methods
  • Patient Care / standards
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*
  • Social Conditions
  • Systems Theory*