5

Organisational issues

So there he is at last. Man on the moon. The poor magnificent bungler! He can’t even get to the office without undergoing the agonies of the damned, but give him a little metal, a few chemicals, some wire and twenty or thirty billion dollars and vroom! there he is, up on a rock a quarter of a million miles up in the sky.

Russell Wagner Baker, 1969, New York Times

The bigger the organization, the fewer the jobs worth doing.

Sir Antony Rupert Jay, 1967, Management and Machiavelli

The use of ‘machines’ always takes place within an environment and it can be seen from the Noyes and Baber (1999) model that this extends to encompass organisational issues. Certainly this is the case with the traditional workplace although the extent to which ‘organisational issues’ could be applied to the increasing use of tools, technology and computers in the home is debatable. Chapter 4 focused on the physical aspects of the working environment; this chapter will extend this definition of environment to consider some of the organisational issues that can influence human performance in the workplace. Again, it must be remembered that the Human Factors/ergonomic approach is to consider the ‘whole’, and it would be unwise to focus on the design of human-machine interactions without reference to the larger picture.

Organisations can be defined as ‘collectivities of parts that accomplish goals more effectively when organised in a larger structure’ (Muchinsky, 1997:246). This definition implies that several groups of people will be working together to achieve a common goal as determined by the nature of the organisation. The ‘group’ aspect is important because, in the past, human interactions with technology have tended to focus on the individual and the social aspects of human-machine interaction have often been ignored. This is particularly true of research in the experimental sciences: take, for example, the human information-processing model described in

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