ASSESSING THE BEHAVIOR OF HUMAN ACTIVITY SYSTEMS THROUGH THE OBSERVATION AND INTERPRETATION OF SOCIOTECHNICAL SIGNS
Keywords:Signs, human activity systems, organizational change, communication system, thinking and doing
The study of communication as a system is largely unexplored in both literature and empirical research, however its role in human activity systems is critical for understanding and adapting organizational behavior. Currently most literature on organizational indicators or signs do not make a connection back to a system of communication or delve into the theoretical virtues of signs as they pertain to the human activity system; building a message that can be understood by and between analysts of the system under observation. Signs are the most basic elements of communication, indicating properties about the system from which the signs emerge. Signs can be conceptual or concrete in form and provide the means for assessing system behavior. When combined with context, signs become information about the system and the information is used to develop a message and transmit from a sender to one or more receivers regarding the necessity for change. This research shall focus on signs are and how they can contribute to change initiatives through their relationship to system behavior. Furthermore, a case study on organizational change will be employed to illustrate the use of signs to indicate whether management is balancing organizational intelligence (thinking) and organizational practices (doing), as indicated by Sir Geoffrey Vickers concept of appreciative systems, in change management initiatives. This research will lay the foundations for system analysts to assess how a perspective system is doing, from the observation and interpretation of its signs, and what needs to change in order for a system to reach its intended goal.