Sometimes, when a set of ideas is presented in a rational, logical form, as we have tried to do throughout this book, readers are left with uneasy, lingering questions about the origins of those ideas. Where did all these concepts come from? Are they just idle, armchair speculations? Are they merely based on one person's private intuitions? Are they based on any empirical foundation? If so, were the data collected under conditions that are representative of the settings and situations to which we are interested in applying these concepts (i.e., complex sociotechnical systems requiring worker adaptation)? The purpose of this Appendix is to answer these questions by providing a very brief historical overview of the studies and insights conducted between 1962 and 1979 that eventually led to the framework that we have described in this book (cf. Sanderson & Harwood, 1988). Putting CWA into its historical context should help us better appreciate, not just the origins of the framework, but also the research infrastructure that may be necessary for cognitive engineering to flourish.
The ideas presented in this book grew out of a research program conducted in the Electronics Department of Risø National Laboratory in Roskilde, Denmark. Risø National Laboratory (or Research Establishment Risø, as it was first known) was created in 1956 and Niels Bohr, the Danish Nobel laureate in physics, served as its first chairman of the board. Risø was given the charge of conducting research so that Denmark could effectively implement nuclear power within 5 years. Remarkably, this 5-year window was maintained for over a quarter of a century until it was decided that Denmark would not have any commercial nuclear power plants!
During this quarter century, Risø fostered an exceptionally unique environment for conducting research. Originally, the laboratory's funding came from the Danish Ministry of Finance, providing a vast supply of financial support. There was no requirement at all to bring in large research contracts from external funding agencies. Furthermore, there was no requirement to publish research results in academic journals. Instead, much of the work described herein was published in an internal series of green technical reports. Although Risø had collaborations with Danish universities, its researchers were not required to teach classes, supervise graduate students, or take on extensive administrative responsibilities. What they were required to do was conduct research to address a practical problem of great social relevance--____________________