Designing Decision Support in an Evolving Sociotechnical Enterprise

C. Upton, G. Doherty, F. Gleeson & C. Sheridan, Designing Decision Support in an Evolving Sociotechnical Enterprise, Cognition Technology and Work, 12(1), pp.13-30, 2010, DOI 10.1007/s10111-008-0124-1

Modern manufacturing facilities are subject to organisational, technological, engineering and market constraints. The combination of these factors allows them to be described as sociotechnical enterprises. Control of these enterprises is distributed between human and automated agents who collaborate as part of a joint cognitive system. One of the challenges facing these industries is a need to evolve operations while maintaining stable performance. Cognitive Systems Engineering (CSE) provides a range of analytical frameworks that can be used to study the effects of change on sociotechnical systems. However, the scale of these enterprises and the range of decision-making styles involved make the selection of an appropriate framework difficult. A critical review of both positivist and hermeneutic approaches to cognitive systems research is provided. Following this a cognitive engineering process is outlined that uses a mixed model approach to describe system functionality, understand the implications of change and inform the design of cognitive artefacts that support system control. A case study examines the introduction of pervasive automation in the semiconductor manufacturing industry and is used to demonstrate the utility of this process.