ارزیابی سیستمهای تکنیک اجتماعی پیچیده - مسائل نظری در رابطه با استفاده از فرهنگ سازمانی و مفاهیم وظیفه اصلی سازمانی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4020||2007||24 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Safety Science, Volume 45, Issue 7, August 2007, Pages 745–768
This article studies organizational assessment in complex sociotechnical systems. There is a practical need to monitor, anticipate and manage the safety and effectiveness of these systems. A failure to do so has resulted in various organizational accidents. Many theories of accidents and safety in industrial organizations are either based on a static and rational model of an organization or they are non-contextual. They are thus reactive in their search for errors and analysis of previous accidents and incidents, or they are disconnected from the actual work in the organization by their focus on general safety attitudes and values. A more proactive and predictive approach is needed, that is based on an accurate view on an organization and the demands of the work in question. This article presents and elaborates four statements: (1) the current models of safety management are largely based on either a rational or a non-contextual image of an organization, (2) complex sociotechnical systems are socially constructed and dynamic cultures, (3) in order to be able to assess complex sociotechnical systems an understanding of the organizational core task is required, and (4) effectiveness and safety depend on the cultural conceptions of the organizational core task. Finally, we will discuss the implications of the proposed concepts for safety research and development work in complex sociotechnical systems.
Assuring the safety and effectiveness of a complex industrial organization is demanding. Most safety management systems and theories of safety critical organizations emphasize the regular self-assessment and auditing of the activities. Rasmussen (1997, p. 183) notes that in spite of all the efforts to design safer systems, severe, large scale accidents still happen. He questions whether safety research has adequate models of accident causation (see also Pidgeon and O’Leary, 2000 and Dekker, 2005). We argue that many theories of accidents and safety in industrial organizations are based on a static and rational model of an organization or they are non-contextual. They are thus reactive in their search for individual human errors and analysis of previous accidents and incidents, or they are disconnected from the actual work in the organization by their focus on general safety attitudes and values. At the same time, organization research has begun to increasingly emphasize the dynamic and interpretative aspects of organizations. Safety management approaches based on this interpretative view of the organization are still rare. We can thus raise the question of whether safety research has adequate models of complex industrial organizations. This article illustrates two concepts that can be used in understanding and assessing complex industrial organizations, namely the concepts of organizational core task and organizational culture. The aim of this article is to study organizational assessment and more specifically, the significance of organizational culture in assessing the safety and effectiveness of modern industrial organizations. Industrial organizations of modern society are complex and dynamic sociotechnical systems (Rasmussen, 1997 and Leveson, 2004; cf. Perrow, 1984). This is due to the following reasons. In addition to multiple goals (efficiency, safety, credibility, and employee wellbeing), multiple interacting parties (different technical disciplines, various tasks, outside contractors) and complex social structures, they encompass uncertainties in the tightly-coupled and complex technology and the environment (market pressures, political decisions, [de]regulation). The work itself is usually highly specialized, mediated via various tools and information systems, and potentially hazardous (to personnel and/or the environment) (Vicente, 1999, pp. 14–17; see also Perrow, 1984, Rasmussen, 1997, Kirwan, 2001 and Orton and Weick, 1990). Complex sociotechnical systems are uniquely dynamic and constantly changing and adapting. The premises of daily activity and strategic control and steering of these organizations are based on partly implicit norms, values and conceptions. The hierarchy as a control mechanism is undermined by an increasingly horizontal distribution of expertise (Barley, 1996, p. 437). Work in these organizations is becoming increasingly difficult to label as blue collar or white collar, or to dichotomise into mental versus manual labour (cf. Barley, 1996 and Oedewald and Reiman, 2003). The complexities of the technology and the physical phenomena on which the work focuses (nuclear reaction, chemistry, etc.) require more and more abstract understanding. Furthermore, the tools themselves have become more complex and abstract (e.g. more computer systems and less hands-on-work, cf. Zuboff, 1988). The work requires specialization into some content areas, but at the same time the understanding of the entire system and the expertise of others becomes more difficult. The difficulties of managing these complex sociotechnical systems have received a lot of attention in connection with various organizational accidents (e.g. the Challenger space shuttle accident, see Vaughan, 1996, Chernobyl nuclear accident or the Piper Alpha offshore platform accident, see Wright, 1994 and Paté-Cornell, 1993). In Turner’s (1978) terms these events have been disasters. This means that the accidents have brought the previous approaches and assumptions about safety into question. A disaster is something that was not supposed to take place according to the existing framework of thinking, but it happened nevertheless. The event was thus in contradiction to the cultural conceptions about safety and the appropriate means for guaranteeing it ( Turner, 1978 and Turner and Pidgeon, 1997). These “false” conceptions had been gradually rooted in the culture of the organization as it was carrying on with its daily practices. These conceptions should thus be studied and their contribution to organizational effectiveness and safety should be assessed in advance. This should be done before or during the incubation period (Turner, 1978), when the preconditions of the accident are created. We argue that when the complexity of the work, technology and the social environment are increased, the significance of the most implicit features of organizational culture as a means of coordinating the work and achieving the safety and effectiveness of the activities also increases (cf. Perrow, 1986, Weick, 1987, Weick, 1995 and Dekker, 2005). The aim of this article is to study organizational assessment in complex sociotechnical systems. Based on the above, we acknowledge the practical need to monitor, anticipate and manage the safety and effectiveness of the sociotechnical systems. This article builds on and elaborates four statements: (1) the current models of safety management are largely based on a rational or a non-contextual image of an organization, (2) complex sociotechnical systems are socially constructed and dynamic cultures, (3) in order to be able to assess complex sociotechnical systems an understanding of the organizational core task is required, and (4) effectiveness and safety depend on the cultural conceptions of the organizational core task. Finally, we will discuss the implications of the proposed concepts for organizational research and development work in complex sociotechnical systems.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The aim of this article was to study organizational assessment in complex sociotechnical systems. We introduced the concept of organizational core task (OCT). We proposed that together with a dynamic view of the complex sociotechnical system as an organizational culture, OCT can be used in assessing the central features of a particular culture. We then discussed the implications of the concepts for behavioural scientific research and development work at complex sociotechnical systems. In order to create appropriate criteria for organizational effectiveness we have in this article emphasized the need to integrate ideas from work psychology and cultural studies to human factors research. The concept of OCT was proposed to denote the constraints and requirements of a particular work. Uncertainty and complexity are the defining characteristics of modern industrial work. Nevertheless, we agree with Barley’s (1996) worry that concepts such as complexity and uncertainty are not sufficient to understand the activity in the given organization. Barley criticizes the goal of comparing dissimilar complex tasks (such as management and medicine) in order to “discover relations that would hold across contexts” (Barley, 1996, p. 405; see also Orton and Weick, 1990, p. 219). We argue that our methodology is applicable in various contexts, but the methodology does not include a conception of an ideal sociotechnical system a priori. The criteria for assessment are created on a case by case basis. The OCT concept is related to the concepts of primary task (Rice, 1958 and Miller and Rice, 1967) and basic mission (Schein, 1985). The main difference is that OCT is a normative concept that sets constraints and requirements for the organizational culture, whereas primary task and basic mission are more descriptive concepts of the current goals of the organization. In our framework, effectiveness and safety of the organization depend on the cultural conceptions of the OCT prevalent in the given organization. Our approach has also connections to the High Reliability Organizations research. When conducting organizational core task analysis in different domains, many of the extracted constraints and requirements resemble the general characteristics of HROs (see Section 2.3), but also more contextual requirements and constraints emerge. Further, also the general challenges, such as the need to anticipate the unexpected, are easier to communicate to the case organization and utilize in development initiatives if they are more contextualised to the specific work and its uncertainties. The central challenge in terms of validity of the cultural assessment is how the cultural features relate to the demands of the OCT and how researcher-dependent this qualitative evaluation is. In other words, the challenge is how to conceptualize the objective demands of the organizational core task and the prevailing subjective cultural features in such a manner that the researcher is able to reliably assess their “fit”. The results are thus always incomplete and remain as hypotheses (cf. Sayer, 1992, p. 67), a fact, which has to be taken into account when using the results in the development work, and when reporting the results to the scientific community. The most genuine and far-reaching idea in the safety culture concept is its preventive nature (IAEA, 1991). With (safety) cultural thinking, you do not wait until the organization is “sick”, and then cure it by some form of intervention. The “sick organization” metaphor is the usual approach in many consultancy approaches (cf. Levinson, 2002, Schein, 1985 and Schein, 1999). With (safety) cultural thinking, development initiatives can be made without any visible signs of degradation in the safety or effectiveness. The underlying assumption is that it is always possible to enhance the safety, hence the motive for assessing and developing the culture regularly. Minding this, it is disadvantageous that the indicators currently used for safety culture so often come from the number of accidents, and the criteria for good safety culture are the lack of accidents or incidents along a certain time span in the history of the organization. We have proposed that in complex sociotechnical systems it is both necessary and possible to analyze the safety and effectiveness of the organization by assessing the organizational culture. The concepts of organizational culture and OCT as depicted in this article can be of help in identifying warning signs in organizations before they lead to accidents or incidents. Especially due to the potential dysfunctional sides of the organizational culture, the concept of OCT is needed to identify the central features of culture and contemplate on their potential effects on safety and effectiveness of the organization. The concepts strive to offer a model for organizational assessment that takes into account on the one hand the interpretive and socially constructed nature of organization and on the other hand the constraints and requirements of the work that the organization is carrying out.