Autonomy and Control when Working with Humans—A Reflection on Sociotechnical Concepts
AbstractThe sociotechnical concepts of responsible autonomy and to be in control were originally developed from men’s work in order to describe and develop mostly industrial work. This article explores how these conceptions may be useful in modern service work, when working with humans. It is based on a set of development projects in mainly municipal care institutions in Norway, between 2000 and 2011. The projects were theoretically grounded in the Norwegian and international sociotechnical system theory (STS) tradition. It argues that there are many valuable lessons to be learnt from this tradition also concerning nursing and care work in the municipalities. However, the article points to a need for development of the concept control as autonomy to embrace “working with humans.” A central finding is that assistance and support from and to colleagues are prerequisites for “being in control.” Moreover, that development of trust through communication alongside work is necessary in order to establish relations of mutual support. Trust and mutual support point to the social relations at work; so in this way it takes the concept control as autonomy from an individual to a more collective concept as Trist et al. (1963) and Herbst (1974/1993) defined their concept of control as collective responsible autonomy. In a prospective perspective, the article sets up the hypothesis that an organization that combines the two, an individual together with a more collective scope on autonomy when working with humans, will meet what Kira (2006) calls as regenerative work. This means sustainability—in resources involved; health, quality, and milieu—through the staff ’s dominion over the conditions of their work.
Copyright (c) 2013 Author and Journal
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
The Copyright Holder of this Journal is the authors and the Journal. This Journal gives Open Access with CreativeCommons license CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0.
You can download all the content of the Journal and share it with others as long as you credit the authors and the journal, but you can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.
More specifically this license means that you – authors and users – may:
Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form as long as you follow the license terms. The freedom to share includes parallel publishing on authors’ own website and in institutional repositories or in ResearchGate after publication in NJWLS, or if you want to reprint your article as part of publication of a PhD-thesis or a dissertation
You may share under these terms:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit and provide a link to the license. Appropriate credit implies that you provide the name of the creator and attribution parties, a copyright notice, a license notice, a disclaimer notice, and a link to the material. The link used should be its DOI.
NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes. A commercial use is one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation.
NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material. Merely changing the format never creates a derivative.
Exceptions to the license terms may be granted
If you want to use content in the Journal in another way then described by this license, you must contact the licensor and ask for permission. Contact Bo Carstens at email@example.com. Exceptions are always given for specific purposes and specific content only.
The Journal is listed as a blue journal in Sherpa/Romeo, meaning that the author can archive post-print ((ie final draft post-refereeing) and author can archive publisher's version/PDF.
Copyright of others
Authors are responsible for obtaining permission from copyright holders for reproducing any illustrations, tables, figures or lengthy quotations previously published elsewhere.
All published material is archived at Roskilde University Library, Denmark, and transmitted to the Danish Royal Library in conformity with the Danish rules of legal deposit.
We do not screen articles for plagiarism. It is the responsibility of the authors to make sure they do not plagiate.