Sociotechnical Aspects of Policy Simulation

Sociotechnical Aspects of Policy Simulation

Egils Ginters (Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Latvia), Artis Aizstrauts (Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Latvia) and Rosa Maria Aguilar Chinea (Universidad de la Laguna, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6236-0.ch007
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Abstract

Political decision-making is implemented in the framework of a classic sociotechnical system where respect has to be shown for both technical and social aspects. The development of suitable support tools for the previously mentioned requirements is rather complicated because a fundamentally important factor is product functionality and algorithm conformity to objective requirements (e.g. political decision quality assurance). Traditional design methods mainly focus on the quality of the system design process. They do ensure the quality of the decision-making process but not the decision quality itself. The inclusion of simulation in the system development process permits face validation for the decision-making algorithms of the goal system. This substantially improves acceptance and sustainability indices for the developed political decisions support system. The chapter deals with sociotechnical systems design peculiarities, emphasizing the role of simulation and social factors in the designing of policy decision-making support systems.
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Policy Decision-Making Support Environment: A Sociotechnical System

The concept of sociotechnical systems has been around since the 1950ties (Trist & Bamforth, 1951), when the sociotechnical principles were formulated. One of the first real applications was the implementation of changes in the organisational structure of textile mills in Ahmedabad, India (Rice, 1958), whereas one of the most known examples is the theory application at Volvo’s Kalmar and Uddevalla car plants (Hammarström & Lansbury, 1991; Knights & McCabe, 2000; Sandberg, 1995). Despite its venerable history, there is no generally accepted definition. Admittedly, that is correct, because each definition is valid only under certain circumstances and only for as long as the length of its existence corresponds to the possible number of applications and limitations of newfound knowledge. One possible description (Walker et.al., 2007) explains that a sociotechnical system is a set of explicit concepts, inspired by general systems theory, aimed at jointly optimizing people, technology, organisations and all manner of other systemic elements. Conversely, some of the sociotechnical principles that determine a system are responsible autonomy, adaptability and meaningfulness of tasks. It is mentioned (Walker et al, 2007) that those principles create shared awareness (through peer-to-peer interaction) and agility (through effects based operations, semi-autonomous groups and increased tempo), and self-synchronization (joint optimisation and synergy).

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