Vulnerability, Technology and Organisation

Today, the complexity of traditional technological systems increases due to globalisation, international integration and supranational safety and security requirements.

These trends imply technical and organisational innovations as well as systemic adaptation towards new regulatory regimes. The thematic area “Vulnerability, Technology and Organisation” addresses how interactions between technology and organisation may produce vulnerability in such complex work systems.

The interaction between technical systems, organisations and societal institutions occupies a key position in the research. How humans perceive and play a major role in this interaction is furthermore a key issue, together with how social processes, cultures and structures shape the interaction between technology and organisation.

How robustness can be understood and designed into complex work systems to minimise vulnerability is a main objective of the research area. Linked to system design, is how changes at different levels (macro, meso, micro) of complex work systems represent a part of the vulnerability or robustness of the technology. As a consequence, organisation interaction is a major part of the thematic research area.

Building on theories describing the interrelatedness between people and machines, how social work practices and cultures can be understood and designed, and how safe work practices or robustness can be learned we strive to explain the human role in producing safety in complex work systems, the role of technology in societal safety, the understanding of interactions, and the cultures, structures, and change processes that shape interactions and vulnerability.

Key issues addressed are:
- What theories can explain the human role in technological systems?
- How can current accident models be developed to include complex interactions and changes?
- How can technological risk and uncertainty be understood?
- The structuring of technological systems and role of organisation
- Security of technological systems
- The stability and changeability of safety culture
- How can safe work practices be mapped, understood and designed
- What is the role of change processes in understanding the technology – organisation interaction in complex work systems?