HW 19: Chapter 19

19.3: Complex sociotechnical systems lead to three important characteristics. What are they? Explain each in brief.

From book:1. They have emergent properties that are properties of the system as a whole, rather than associated with individual parts of the system. Emergent properties depend on both the system components and the relationships between them. Some of these relationships only come into existence when the system is  integrated from its components, so the emergent properties can only be evaluated at that time. Security and dependability are examples of important emergent system properties. 

2. They are nondeterministic, so that when presented with a specific input, they may not always produce the same output. The system’s behavior depends on the human operators, and people do not always react in the same way. Furthermore, use of the system may create new relationships between the system components and hence change its emergent behavior. 

3. The system’s success criteria are subjective rather than objective. The extent to which the system supports organizational objectives does not just depend on the system itself. It also depends on the stability of these objectives, the relationships and conflicts between organizational objectives, and how people in the organization interpret these objectives. New management may reinterpret the organizational objectives that a system was designed to support so that a “successful” system may then be seen as no longer fit for its intended purpose.

1. Emergent properties arise from the complex relationships formed between components of the system.  It's a reaction to how the design of the system effects the individual components and their interactions.

2. Nondeterministic means that you cannot determine the output based on the input.  This can occur in a sociotechnical system because of the emergent properties in part 1 -- the reactions that the components have to each other may vary, because humans are not purely computational creatures.  

3. Similarly, the system itself is not purely computational, meaning that successful execution of the system is more abstract.  There will certainly be a high degree of variability when working in a social system, meaning that results and goals may change quickly.  


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