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P.H. Engelstad. Socio-technical approach to problems of process control. In Papermaking Systems and their Control, Trans. of the IVth Fund. Res. Symp. Oxford, 1969, (F. Bolam, ed.), pp 91–113, FRC, Manchester, 2018.


The Industrial Democracy Project in Norway is a long-term research sponsored jointly by the Confederation of Employers and the Trades Union Council. The field experiment reported took place in the chemical pulp department of an integrated papermill as one of a series of four experiments carried out in different industrial settings. Extensive task fragmentation and bureaucratisation in modern industry have produced widespread feelings of alienation in the work force, owing to an increasing mismatch between technologically based task requirements and human needs. Emerging theories of socio-technical systems, including a list of psychological job requirements, offers a frame of reference for understanding these problems. Previous experience suggests that full commitment to productive aims can be achieved only under conditions that allow for a high level of self-regulation and learning. In process technology (including pulp and paper), the dependence relationships among the state characteristics of the materials form a complex network. In the present case, this resulted in uncontrolled variations being transmitted along the process. Having identified the optimum unit for experimentation, individual jobs were redesigned in order to facilitate group learning, which would permit the work groups to increase their control of the process. Results of the socio-technical analyses before and after the experiment are reported and reference is made to the variance matrix technique.

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