Normative Approaches to Work Analysis. "The One Best Way?"
Each employee of your establishment should receive every day clear-cut, definite instructions as to just what he is to do and how he is to do it, and these instructions should be exactly carried out, whether they are right or wrong.
-- Frederick Winslow Taylor (cited in Kanigel, 1997, p. 377)
How is it possible to write a procedure for absolutely every possible situation, especially in a world filled with unexpected events? Answer: it's impossible. [Yet] procedures and rule books dominate industry.
-- Norman ( 1998, p. 156)
In chapter 2, we argued that it is important to conduct some form of work analysis, and that such an analysis should be based on an ecological approach. As we pointed out in chapter 1, various types of work analysis techniques have been developed since the beginning of this century. In this chapter and the next, we critically examine some of these techniques to see how well they stand up to the challenges imposed by complex sociotechnical systems (see chap. 1). Normative approaches to work analysis, particularly task analysis, are examined in this chapter. To anticipate, we conclude that some form of task analysis is indispensible in complex sociotechnical systems, but that a work domain analysis is also needed to overcome the limitations of task analysis.1
Because many different types of work analysis techniques have been proposed, it is useful to categorize them in a way that highlights important similarities and significant differences as well. Rasmussen ( 1997a) distinguished between three generic categories of models that can be adopted for the specific purpose of grouping work analysis techniques. Normative models prescribe how a system should behave. In contrast, descriptive models describe how a system actually behaves in practice. Finally, formative models specify the requirements that must be satisfied so that the____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Cognitive Work Analysis:Toward Safe, Productive, and Healthy Computer-Based Work. Contributors: Kim J. Vicente - Author. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 61.
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