Putting Social Science to Work

Social Science Theory and Use Case Studies Organisations Britain Germany

Book: Putting Social Science to Work

The ground between theory and use explored through case studies in organisations

In this book, Lisl Klein and Ken Eason look at the various issues involved when attempts are made to make use of the theories, methods and findings of the social sciences in practical affairs. They consider how human and social considerations may be successfully integrated with technical and economic ones in the design and development of organisations at work.

Their study is both empirical and theoretical. Its core is the examination of fourteen case studies from manufacturing and service organisations in Britain and Germany. The various projects were carried out by units within the organisations themselves, by university departments, commercial consultants and an independent research institute. Outside the field of organisations the the authors consider the background and strategies of a number of individual practitioners, and also an attempt at national level (in Germany) to make systematic use of research. Their study is informed by their own extensive experience as researchers and practitioners of social science.

The book concludes with a discussion of what contributes to successful practice. Its findings will be invaluable to all social scientists interested in the application of their disciplines as well as to potential clients in the world of business and industry.

Published in 1991 the book remains relevant to contemporary issues of social science utilisation in organisations. It recognises the challenges of the social science practitioner in engaging with varied and complex dynamics within organisations. Further, that the goal of behaviour change is not well served by “packaged” approaches but must begin with the current situation in action. The case studies resonate with current attempts to introduce technology into the workplace and the recognition that the social context of behaviour change plays a key role.

KLEIN, L. & EASON, K.D. (1991) Putting Social Science to Work. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.