Crossing levels in systems ergonomics: a framework to support 'mesoergonomic' inquiry

Appl Ergon. 2014 Jan;45(1):45-54. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2013.04.021. Epub 2013 May 24.


In this paper we elaborate and articulate the need for what has been termed 'mesoergonomics'. In particular, we argue that the concept has the potential to bridge the gap between, and integrate, established work within the domains of micro- and macroergonomics. Mesoergonomics is defined as an open systems approach to human factors and ergonomics (HFE) theory and research whereby the relationship between variables in at least two different system levels or echelons is studied, and where the dependent variables are human factors and ergonomic constructs. We present a framework which can be used to structure a set of questions for future work and prompt further empirical and conceptual inquiry. The framework consists of four steps: (1) establishing the purpose of the mesoergonomic investigation; (2) selecting human factors and ergonomics variables; (3) selecting a specific type of mesoergonomic investigation; and (4) establishing relationships between system levels. In addition, we describe two case studies which illustrate the workings of the framework and the value of adopting a mesoergonomic perspective within HFE. The paper concludes with a set of issues which could form part of a future agenda for research within systems ergonomics.

Keywords: Macro/micro integration; Organizational ergonomics; Systems ergonomics.

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / etiology
  • Ergonomics*
  • Hospital Administration*
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Safety
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*