Putting the technical back into socio-technical systems research

Enrico Coiera*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Citations (Scopus)


Socio-technical systems (STS) analysis has provided us with a powerful framework with which to analyse the reasons behind the poor acceptability, uptake and performance of many information or communication technology systems (ICT). However, for the contribution of STS thinking to be more than simply a means of critiquing current practices and ICT systems, it needs to also contribute to the process of developing new and more effective ICT systems. Specifically, we need to develop a formal design language for translating our insights about the socio-technical nature of work, into design specifications that result in better interventions in the work place. We need to get 'technical' about what we mean and about what we want from a design, and we need to work alongside technologists to shape technology, as well as the processes, organisations and cultures within which they will be embedded. Indeed the process of design itself can be seen as a socio-technical one, and understanding the decision to design itself may allow us one day to stop designing for people, and create STS that sustainably design themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-103
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Human-computer interaction
  • Information system design
  • Information system evaluation
  • Socio-technical systems

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