Participation in the age of Blurring Organizational Boundaries
Program webinars Appetizer Trondheim 2021
Webinar 1: Contextual introduction to the Norwegian sociotechnical tradition
European and Australian participants
10:00 - 11:30 CEST
US/ Canadian participants
19:00 – 20:30 CEST
The first webinar will focus on introducing the way the Norwegian context (societal and organizational) is characterized by sociotechnical influences. First, Hanne Finnestrand and Johan Ravn will take us through general developments in modern Norwegian society. Subsequently, Roger Bjørnstad will give in depth insight into the way institutional and economic macro structures are intertwined with organizational life in Norway. Also, he will address challenges with which LO -the largest federation of labor unions in Norway- is confronted today, such as flexibilization of the workforce and the platform economy.
In workgroups we will reflect on the Norwegian context, by highlighting similarities and differences with other countries and investigating the impact these may have on opportunities for sociotechnical design. Results from the workgroups will be the input for the second webinar that delves deeper into conceptual developments of the Norwegian sociotechnical tradition.
Roger Bjørnstad is the chief economist at LO, and holds a PhD in social economy from the University of Oslo.
Hanne Finnestrand is Associate Professor at the department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Johan E. Ravn is Full Professor in Organizational Behavior at Nord University.
Associate Professor of Organization development at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway. She holds a PhD in Action Research and Organization development from the same university. Finnestrand’s research area is action research in the fields of organization development, industrial relations, and socio-technical systems design. She is currently deputy editor of the Springer journal Systemic Practice and Action Research and on the editorial reviewer board of the Emerald journal The Learning Organization .
Johan E. Ravn
Professor of Leadership and organization at Nord University, Norway and senior research scientist at the SINTEF foundation. Research interests include organization, leadership, collaborative industrial relations, and sociotechnical systems theory, and he has conducted action research in many manufacturing systems. He has published and been guest editor in several journals, and in September 2019 he co-organized a special issue on “Socio-Technical Systems Thinking in Manufacturing” for the open access journal European Journal of Workplace innovation.
Assistant Professor of Organizational Design and Development at the Nijmegen School of Management of Radboud University. He obtained a PhD from Delft University of Technology. His research focuses on organizational design in temporary organizations that operate in crisis contexts, such as the expeditionary organizations of the (Dutch) armed forces and crisis management organizations. Matthijs was part of the multidisciplinary research team that evaluated national crisis response organization that was established after the disaster with flight MH17.
Administrative apprentice at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Laila is responsible for the administrative work for the conference in Trondheim.
If you have any practical questions don´t hesitate to take contact with her by email or phone.
On the Nordic / Norwegian model: political economy, organization of work life, industrial relations, other institutional arrangements
Gustavsen, B. (2007). "Work Organization and the 'Scandinavian Model'." Economic and Industrial Democracy 28(4): 650-671.
(Gustavsen was a major figure in the Norwegian (and European) action research/STS field. This article says something about the practices of tripartism and innovation work within the Norwegian model)
Andersen, T. M., Holmström, B., Honkapohja, S., Korkman, S., Tson, S. H., & Vartiainen, J. (2007). The Nordic Model. Embracing globalization and sharing risks. ETLA B.
(provides a general description of the Nordic model(s), mainly in terms of political economy, flexicurity)
Vihriälä, V. and T. Valkonen (2014). The Nordic model–challenged but capable of reform. Copenhagen, Nordic Council.
(general description: political economy, flexicurity – overlaps somewhat with the one above)
Torvatn, H. Y., Sørensen, O. H., Talja, H., & Eriksen, B. (2015). Good Nordic management practices: State of the art (Vol. 2015525). Nordic Council of Ministers.
(Interesting piece of comparison – between the Nordic states and between the Nordic as a whole and the EU and US, as regards focus and type of managerial practices)
Skorstad, E. J. and J. C. Karlsson (2017). "The worker collectivity and Anglo-Saxon theories of collectivity." Economic and Industrial Democracy.
(Lysgaard’s “worker collectivity” from 1960 is widely regarded as one of the best pieces of Norwegian industrial sociology, but it was never published in English. This piece to some degree accounts for it, and revisits the same industrial site – with a similar research focus. There is something to learn about Norwegian industrial relations here – not of the most collaborative kind. According to a well-read colleague, there are some striking parallels between Lysgaard’s “worker collectivity” and Crozier’s “Bureaucratic phenomenon” from the same period – someone should look into this, perhaps.)
Some classical sociotechnical writings that illustrate the Norwegian/Scandinavian STS tradition
Trist, E. L. (1981). The evolution of socio-technical systems. Toronto, Ontario, Ontario Quality of Working Life Centre, occasional paper.
(How do the 30 first STS years look when looking back at them? Trist’s summary and account is worth the read)
Herbst, P. G. (1974). Designing with Minimal Critical Specifications. In Herbst, P. G. (1974). Socio-technical design: strategies in multidisciplinary research. London, Tavistock Publications
(Some Herbst should be read. His most famous one-liner, “The product of work is people”, is perhaps known? The pathology of the engineer’s model begins “when man begins to treat man as part of the physical environment”. After the Tavistock years, Herbst lived (and died) in Trondheim)
Elden, M. (1986). "Sociotechnical systems ideas as public policy in Norway: Empowering participation through worker-managed change." The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 22(3): 239-255.
(There are some interesting demarcations done here, for instance between democratization and humanization. In a way it really brings a kind of political/institutional perspective to STS and AR. It highlights how the Norwegian STS tradition a) also had an institutional focus, b) was interacting with and backed by the state, the employers’ organization and organized labor, and c) was not claiming to be “ethically neutral”.)
Newer Norwegian STS approaches
Amble, N. (2013). "Autonomy and control when working with humans—A reflection on sociotechnical concepts." Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies 3(4): 45-62.
(The interesting part here is the juxtaposition between the Karasek model (of work demands/work control) for work design and the STS approach – how there is a lack of a collective perspective in Karasek)
Klemsdal, L., J.E. Ravn, N. Amble & H. Finne. (2017). "The Organization Theories of the Industrial Democracy Experiments Meet Contemporary Organizational Realities " Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies 7(S2): 1-15.
(A part of the article tries to account for how the Norwegian STS perspective split up into one strain of work environment studies, and another focused on dialogue and development processes)
Claussen, T., T.Haga & J.E. Ravn. (2019). "Socio-technics and beyond: an approach to organisation studies and design in the second machine age." European Journal of Workplace Innovation 4(2): 99-122.
(the editorial of last year’s special issue of EJWI (European Journal of Work Innovation) centered on STS)
The rest of the special issue of EJWI centered on STS can be accessed here:
Administrative and practical issues:
Laila Bergsrønning Øyangen