Ergonomic Interventions in the Implementation of New Technical Systems

Opportunities for ergonomic and human factors in new technical systems

One of the most frequent sources of change in working life is the implementation of new technology. This can have many implications for the work system. There will be an immediate need for staff to acquire new skills and there may be potentially far-reaching effects on jobs and the way work is organised. There are many opportunities for ergonomic and human factors (E/HF) interventions, but what can be achieved depends on the way the new technology is implemented. This chapter examines the different strategies by which new technology is implemented into the workplace and their implications for E/HF interventions.

Technocentric Implementation Strategies

The prevailing approach to technical system implementation has bene described as ‘technocentric’ or ‘technology push’ (Balham 1993, Eason 1993). In this approach the objective is seen in entirely technical terms: to design or purchase a complete technical system, to install the equipment, get it ‘up and running’ and train the users in its correct usage. If therein recognition that there may be wider ramifications for the work system, this is often framed as ‘resistance to change’ on the part of the workforce and is to be overcome by such mechanisms as appointing ‘user champions’ to act as persuaders and using industrial relations procedures to deal with disputes.

Evaluation Human Work Ken Eason Ergonomics New Technical Systems

Google Books Link

Eason K.D. Ergonomic Interventions in the Implementation of New Technical Systems. In Wilson J. and Sharples S. (eds) Evaluation of Human Work 4th Edition, Taylor and Francis 837-853

People and Computers: Emerging Work Practice in the Information Age

A chapter in the book ‘Psychology at Work’ reviewing the impact of information technology on work practice and the link between people and work


Psychology at work Ken Eason People and computers emerging work practice in the information age

Amazon Book Link

EASON K.D. People and Computers: Emerging Work Practice in the Information Age. In P.B.Warr (ed) ‘Psychology at Work’ Penguin, London, 5th Edition pp 77-99 ISBN 0-14-100010-4

Exploring the Implications of Allocation of Function for Human Resource Management in the Royal Navy

Organisational requirements definition for information technology systems (ORDIT) to determine the responsibilities within the planned socio-technical system

Automation changes the allocation of function between machines and people and there can be many concerns about the effects on individual human performance. However, these changes also have wider consequences because the number of people in the system may be reduced and the skills they require may be different with consequential impact upon . These wider implications are rarely considered in a systematic manner when a new technical system is being developed. This paper presents a method for the assessment of these wider implications during the system development process. This method has been developed and demonstrated in a Royal Navy context to explore the impact of automation in a new class of warships on the manning of the warship and on human resource planning in the Navy. The paper describes the method and the results of applying it in the naval context. The method utilizes the approach of organisational requirements definition for information technology systems (ORDIT) to determine the responsibilities within the planned socio-technical system and a scenario-based workshop approach for establishing the implications and options at each stage of the analysis. The results demonstrate that it is possible to trace the implications of a technical change of this kind for a major organization but that it is a multi-stage and multi-layered process. There are within the process many options with different implications which reveals where the organization has leverage to plan for the future.


Human Factors and Ergonomics Ken Eason Organisational Requirements Definition for Information Technology Systems


Google Books Link

STRAIN, J. and EASON, K.D., Exploring the implications of allocation of function for human resource management in the Royal Navy, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Vol 52(2), pp319-334. ISSN 1071-5819.

Consumer Behaviour of Employees Using Information & Communications Technology Products in an Organizational Setting

Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Uses and Applications

Every day we interact with thousands of consumer products. We not only expect them to perform their functions safely, reliably, and efficiently, but also to do it so seamlessly that we don’t even think about it. However, with the many factors involved in consumer product design, from the application of human factors and ergonomics principles to reducing risks of malfunction and the total life cycle cost, well, the process just seems to get more complex. Edited by well-known and well-respected experts, the two-volumes of Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design simplify this process.

The second volume, Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Uses and Applications, discusses challenges and opportunities in the design for product safety and focuses on the critical aspects of human-centered design for usability. The book contains 14 carefully selected case studies that demonstrate application of a variety of innovative approaches that incorporate Human Factor and Ergonomics (HF/E) principles, standards, and best practices of user-centered design, cognitive psychology, participatory macro-ergonomics, and mathematical modeling. These case studies also identify many unique aspects of new product development projects, which have adopted a user-centered design paradigm as a way to attend to user requirements.

The case studies illustrate how incorporating HF/E principles and knowledge in the design of consumer products can improve levels of user satisfaction, efficiency of use, increase comfort, and assure safety under normal use as well as foreseeable misuse of the product. The book provides a comprehensive source of information regarding new methods, techniques, and software applications for consumer product design.

Chapter: ‘Consumer Behaviour of Employees Using Information & Communications Technology Products in an Organisational Setting’ introduces the idea of seeing workers as consumers of IT

“Perhaps the most interesting chapter, though, is Ken Eason’s which makes a compelling case for regarding employees at work in an organisational setting as consumers of IT products.” – Gordon Baxter

Link to Review on Taylor and Francis Site

Human Factors Ergonomic Product Design Ken Eason Information & Communications Technology

Amazon Book Link

Google Books Link

EASON K. D. Consumer behaviour of employees using information and communications technology products in an organizational setting. In ‘Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Uses and Applications’ Eds. W. Karwowski, M. M. Soares and N. A. Stanton, CRC Press, Boca Raton p241- 253

Are ‘Human Factors’ Human Revisited

Comment from Ken Eason on the paper

‘This paper is a contribution to the 60th birthday celebrations for Niel’s Bjorn Andersen to recognise his many contributions to the development of information systems. In 1984 Niel’s wrote a paper called ‘Are ‘Human Factors’ Human?’ in which he challenged the human factors community, then helping to develop different forms of human-computer interaction, to be more humanistic in their approach and to take a more holistic view of people in systems. This paper reflects on developments in human factors since 1984 in the light of Niel’s challenges. It traces the history of research and design practice since 1984 and, although there are signs of a broader based approach to human beings in systems, it concludes that much of the work is still about specific issues, for example, the recognition of icons,. Major progress has been made in the way users participate in design work and on methodologies for usability and accessability evaluation. However, much less progress has been made in changing overall design processes from technical procedures where human and organisational issues are dealt with, if at all, at the implementation stage. The objective of sociotechnical sysems design. which takes a humanistic view of the people in the system, becoming mainstream practice is still a long way off.’


EASON K.D. Are ‘Human Factors’ Human Revisited In Andersen K.V. and Thanning Vendelo M. (eds) The Past and Future of Information Systems, Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann, pp123-136

Changing Perspectives on the Organizational Consequences of Information Technology

Early predictions of the impact of computers on organizations ranged from ‘human – computer symbiosis’ to automation and the collapse of jobs. The findings from impact research show that there was evidence for all predictions that were made. This demonstrated that the technology is very flexible and can be deployed to facilitate many different organizational outcomes. However, more recent research shows that the design process despite significant progress in the adoption of user-centred methods remains technocentric and organizational outcomes are often unplanned and unwanted. The paper concludes that current predictions about the development of virtual organizations are likely to be over simplistic and that the usage of methods to assess organizational options and design socio-technical systems are necessary if emerging forms of technology are to be effectively deployed.

EASON K.D. Changing Perspectives on the Organizational Consequences of Information Technology, Behaviour and Information Technology 20(5) pp 323-328

Understanding the Organisational Ramifications of Implementing Information Technology Systems

Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction (Second Edition)

Publisher Summary:
Information technology is a major force for organizational change. Every organization that applies the technology experiences organizational ramifications. This chapter charts the development of different models of organizational effects over a 40-year period. During the 1960s and 1970s, many studies of organizational impact were undertaken that produced conflicting results. As a result, a contingency model of computer impact emerged that accounted for the different impacts by reference to different forms of technology and application. In the last decade, it has become clear that this is also an inadequate model because it does not allow for the active nature of organizations that act to shape the impact of the technology. The chapter examines nine case studies to explore the processes by which organizational impact takes place. The active manner in which these processes operate is summarized in model three. This is an organizational assimilation model in which the three sub-systems of an enterprise interact and create outcomes in each sub-system. The chapter ends with a review of the many methods now available to support this approach and outlines the need for organizational stakeholders to play significant roles in new system developments.

Human Computer Interaction User Centred Design Organisational Impact Information Technology

Google Books Link

Science Direct Link

Eason K. D. (1997) Understanding the organisational ramifications of implementing information technology systems. In ‘Handbook of Human-computer interaction’ M.G. Hollander, T.K. Landeaur and P.V. Prabhu (eds) , Amsterdam, Elsevier

DOI Link

Managing Computer Impact

Managing Computer Impact: An International Study of Management and Organizations

Managing Computer Impact describes research undertaken in eight organizations in five countries. The approach determines the impact of computer-based information systems on organizations and management. Results at several levels of analysis support the conclusion that few changes are determined by computer technology.

Managing Computer Impact: An International Study of Management and Organisations Ken Eason

Link to Google Books

BJORN-ANDERSON, N. EASON, K.D. & ROBEY, D. (1986) Managing Computer Impact, Ablex, Norwood NJ.

Early Evaluation of the Organisational Implications of CSCW Systems

Evaluation of Computer Systems which Support Cooperative Work (CSCW)

Computer systems which support cooperative work will undoubtedly change the way people interact with one another in a working setting. In stimulating these changes, the CSCW system will be a force for organisational change. Over the past twenty years there has been a tradition of impact research, in which investigators have studied the impact computer-based information systems implemented within organisations have had upon those organisations. The results have been many and varied. Some studies show that computer systems lead to the centralisation of power, while others show decentralisation of power. At the level of the individual job there are studies which show the empowerment of the individual and the opposite: the creation of the “white collar assembly line.” A study from 1983 demonstrated both job enrichment and deskilling from two different computer systems in the same organisation. There is widespread agreement that there can be substantial change, but very little agreement on the form that it takes. We have argued elsewhere (Eason 1988) that the reason for these diverse results is that computer systems are not deterministic, and that they can be used to achieve many different organisational effects. There is an opportunity in the design and development process to plan the organisational outcomes and to achieve the impact that is desired by the members of the organisation.

Early Evaluation of the Organisational Implications of CSCW Systems Ken Eason

Springer Link to Article

Eason K.D. and Olphert C.W. (1996) Early evaluation of the organisational implications of CSCW Systems, In Thomas P. (ed) ‘CSCW Requirements and Evaluation, Springer-Verlag, London 75-89

Psychological Processes in the Use of Electronic Journals

Paper presented at the UKSG 23rd Annual Conference, Keele, April 2000

Evidence of user behaviour with electronic journals from the SuperJournal project is reviewed to identify the psychological processes being employed. The article reviews patterns of use, the dominance of browsing as the means of seeking information, the depth, breadth and range of use and the tendency to print. The article concludes that the dominant user approach is a coping strategy that maximises success for minimum psychological effort.

PDF Link to Paper

Eason K.D. and Harker S.D.P. Psychological processes in the use of electronic journals, Serials 13(2) 67-72