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.

Representing Socio-Technical Systems Options in the Development of New Forms of Work Organization


It is widely accepted that effective implementation of new technology into work organizations needs an integrative approach in which developments in both technical and social systems are considered. Furthermore, success depends upon the effective participation of significant stakeholders in this process. This article reviews the methods available for this purpose and concludes that a particular weakness is the methods that can be used to generate and review socio-technical system opportunities early in the development process. Whilst methods exist to support stakeholder participation at this stage, they need to represent future socio-technical opportunities if they are to make an effective contribution. This article presents the ORDIT (Organizational Requirements Definition for Information Technology Systems) methodology, which uses responsibility modelling as a basis for constructing socio-technical systems opportunities. The application of telemedicine in health care is presented as a case study to demonstrate how this method can be used to construct and evaluate socio-technical scenarios.

Socio-technical Systems Work Organisational Development Information Technology

Publication at Taylor and Francis Online

Eason K.D. Harker S.D.P. and Olphert C.W. (1996) Representing Socio-Technical Systems Options in the Development of New Forms of Work Organization. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 5(3) 399-420

DOI Link

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

Patient Safety in Community Care: e-health systems and the Care of the Elderly at Home

Handbook of Research on Patient Safety and Quality Care through Health Informatics

This chapter reviews a number of technologies used for remote care: telecare, telehealth, telemedicine, electronic patient record systems, and technologies to support mobile working.


The increasing number of elderly people in need of health and social care is putting pressure on current services to develop better ways of providing integrated care in the community. It is a widely held belief that e-health technologies have great potential in enabling and achieving this goal. This chapter reviews a number of technologies used for this purpose: telecare, telehealth, telemedicine, electronic patient record systems, and technologies to support mobile working. In each case, technocentric-design approaches have led to problematic implementations and failures to achieve adoption into the routine of delivering healthcare. An examination of attempts to implement major changes in the service delivery of integrated care shows that e-health technologies can be successfully implemented when they are seen as an intrinsic part of the creation of a complete system. However, the design process required for successful delivery of these services is challenging; it requires sustained and integrated development work by clinical staff and technologists coordinating their work on process changes, organisational developments, and technology implementations.

Patient Safety in Community Care: e-health systems and the Care of the Elderly at Home Ken Eason

Link to IGI Global

Eason K. D. and Waterson P.E Patient Safety in Community Care: e-health systems and the care of the elderly at home In Michel V., Gulliver S., Rosenorn-Lang D. and Currie W. (eds) Patient Safety and Quality Dimensions of Health Informatics. IGI Global 198-213