Socio-Technical Systems in Professional Decision Making

TitleSocio-Technical Systems in Professional Decision Making
Publication TypeTeaching Module
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsFrey, WJ
PublisherUniversity of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez
Publication Languageeng
AbstractThis module has been revised to fit better within courses and modules in business education. It presents socio-technical analysis as a method for integrating ethical and social values into business practice. Socio-technical system analysis facilitates understanding the ethical and social impacts aspects of business but more fundamentally it helps to anticipate potential problems early on in the business process where they can be dealt with more effectively. This module includes different ways of setting up a STS analysis, provides case studies to make STS analysis concrete and realistic, and relates STS analysis to the dimensions of moral imagination and moral creativity which are so essential for effective problem-solving. Two socio-technical system tables are attached that serve as templates for decision making exercises as well as business product and process analyses. One table outlines the general components of the socio-technical system underlying the practice of engineering in Puerto Rico. Another, prepared by William Frey, Efrain O’Neill, Alberto Ramirez, and Agustine Irizarry, describes the socio-technical system underlying power systems engineering in Puerto Rico. A final table turns STS analysis more toward the business process by looking at the different components of the STS of a fictional corporation named "Burger Man." (This exercise was developed and taught by Paul Thompson in agricultural ethics classes and made available to the author during an Ag-Sat sponsored, multi-university course in agricultural ethics offered by Thompson in 1992.) Socio-technical analysis provides an excellent pedagogical response to various accreditation requirements including ABET (Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology) and AACSB (American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business).This module is being developed as a part of an NSF-funded project, "Collaborative Development of Ethics Across the Curriculum Resources and Sharing of Best Practices," NSF SES 0551779.
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