Socio-Technical Systems

I think it unrealistic to expect socio-technical systems (STS) to birth a future where corporate cultures encourage sharing of intellectual property between companies.  Companies are composed of people and people are not open (yet, and maybe never) to this sort of sharing.  Aldridge writes, “In the 21st century, the technical and societal climate appear positive for socio-technical systems…However, management opposition persists because STS by nature enables collaborative decision-making and shared leadership.  Management has been reluctant to give up the power and authority they have worked so hard to establish” (2004).  Notwithstanding D. W.’s post interpretation of Nash’s equilibrium theory that “it may be best to share some of our intellectual capital with other organizations in an effort to do what’s best for the market as a whole,” this simply is not reality.  Although, D,W. makes the point that STS are breaking down silos within organizations that contain “tremendous amounts” of intellectual property—to the benefit of employees and leaders.

Rather, I think STS can be well-utilized as stated in Instigator’s post “to provide a means for us as the consumer to gain a more comprehensive view of products and services. Using information sharing and knowledge management, consumers can now band together and actively participate in action research, providing feedback, implementing change, collaborating, and accelerating communication, learning and knowledge sharing. This can be a very powerful tool for the consumer in letting organizations and companies know what we are thinking.”  Used in this fashion some social media platforms that are not normally considered true STS become true STS.  Aldridge stated that STS continues to struggle within organizations (2004), but in consumers’ hands STS do not face the same organizational/management challenges broached by Aldridge.  In the enormous self-regulating and autonomous group known as consumers, it is free to accomplish the social and technological goals of STS’s genesis.

Aldridge, J. W.  (2004).  Information on socio-technical systems.  Encyclopedia of Distributed Learning.  Thousand Oaks:  Sage Publications.