Design and development of sociotechnical systems

Urban Cycle Mobilities

Clinical Communication

Network for Design of Robust Organizational Change

Book: Situated Design Methods


Technological developments have increasingly narrowed the gap between social systems and technological systems. Today, human, social, material and technological systems are interconnected in ways that differ significantly from what characterised former societies. This trend can be seen in all areas of society: organisation and IT system development in for example the health sector, development of urban spaces, design of performances, design of museum events, development of environmentally friendly alternative technologies in the building and transport sectors, etc.

The focal issues
The focal issues in this context are the development and design of socio-technical systems for social benefit. The purpose is to provide research-based knowledge about the development and design of new, innovative socio-technical systems in all those areas where RUC has special skills:

  • health promotion,
  • health and IT,
  • environment/sustainable technology and renewable energy technologies,
  • in relation to the service innovation area,
  • in relation to business administration and network-based public sector management,
  • in relation to museums and performances, etc.

The initiative is based on the design, development and testing of prototypes and specific useful solutions in each of these areas in close collaborations among users, designers and researchers. The intention is to work pro-actively and solution-oriented and to draw on action research, knowledge on user-driven innovation and other collaboration-oriented methods, in relation to which RUC has special skills.

Apart from the above special characteristics, research in the development and design of socio-technical systems at RUC can be characterised as follows:

  • Focus is on a solution that “works” rather than on what is “true” or “not true”.
  • Focus is on creative, innovative new design(s) based on current and imagined technological and social opportunities rather than on how socio-technical systems have so far been built within a specified area.
  • Focus is more on practical, interdisciplinary problem-solving and research than on mono-disciplinary problem-solving and research. The objects of research comprise design and design processes in connection with construction and re-construction of socio-technical systems, and – in its basic form – research comprises studies of humans, objects, contexts and the interaction between these elements.

Participation criteria
Researchers and research projects representing all of RUC’s main areas are invited to participate in the development of this research area. The criteria for participation are:

  • 1. That the purpose of the research is to solve a specific and practical societal issue;
  • 2. That the research involves the construction or attempted construction of a new and innovative socio-technical system combining technological and social elements in a new way;
  • 3. That it takes place in close collaboration between relevant stakeholders such as users, local change agents, designers and researchers;
  • 4. That the researcher or research group explicitly considers their project a design project, the purpose of which is to provide general or area-/sector-specific research-based knowledge on the design of socio-technical systems.





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