A Multi-domain Approach Toward Adaptations of Socio-technical Systems: The Dutch Railway Case-Part 1

Abstract—Socio-technical systems are highly complex as they
contain a number of domains each of which including numerous
interdependent elements. With such complexity, policy makers
and managers need to adapt (make incremental changes in) sociotechnical
systems, and currently available approaches for such
adaptations are rare. Consequently, and to fill this gap, this paper
takes a multi-domain approach based upon Design Structure and
Multi-domain matrices to develop a multi-domain model of sociotechnical
system. Moreover, that model is analyzed according to
both the change propagation measures of the non-human domain
and the information processing view of the stakeholder domain of
socio-technical systems. Application of this method for the Dutch
railway system is discussed in Part 2 of this paper.

[1] Appelbaum, S. H. 1997. Socio-technical systems theory: an intervention
strategy for organizational development. Management decision 35 (6):
[2] Bartolomei, J. E., D. E. Hastings, R. de Neufville, and D. H. Rhodes.Engineering systems multiple-domain matrix: An organizing
framework for modeling large-scale complex systems. Systems Engineering
15 (1): 41–61.
[3] Bauer, J. M., and P. M. Herder. 2009. Designing socio-technical
systems. In Philosophy of technology and engineering sciences, 601–Elsevier.
[4] Bonzo, S. M., D. McLain, and M. S. Avnet. 2016. Process modeling
in the operating room: A socio-technical systems perspective. Systems
Engineering 19 (3): 267–277.
[5] Browning, T. R. 2001. Applying the design structure matrix to system
decomposition and integration problems: a review and new directions.
IEEE Transactions on Engineering management 48 (3): 292–306.
[6] Browning, T. R. 2002. Process integration using the design structure
matrix. Systems Engineering 5 (3): 180–193.
[7] Browning, T. R. 2015. Design structure matrix extensions and innovations:
a survey and new opportunities. IEEE Transactions on
Engineering Management 63 (1): 27–52.
[8] Carayon, P. 2006. Human factors of complex sociotechnical systems.
Applied ergonomics 37 (4): 525–535.
[9] Clarkson, P. J., C. Simons, and C. Eckert. 2004. Predicting change
propagation in complex design. Journal of Mechanical Design 126 (5):
[10] Daft, R. L., and R. H. Lengel. 1986. Organizational information requirements,
media richness and structural design. Management science 32
(5): 554–571.
[11] Danilovic, M., and T. R. Browning. 2007. Managing complex product
development projects with design structure matrices and domain
mapping matrices. International journal of project management 25 (3):
[12] De Bruijn, H., and P. M. Herder. 2009. System and actor perspectives
on sociotechnical systems. IEEE Transactions on systems, man, and
cybernetics-part A: Systems and Humans 39 (5): 981–992.
[13] de Weck, O., C. Eckert, and P. J. Clarkson. 2012. Guest editorial.
Research in Engineering Design 23:265–267.
[14] Doi, T., J. M. Sussman, O. L. de Weck et al. 2016. Interaction of
lifecycle properties in high speed rail systems operation. Master’s thesis,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
[15] Eckert, C., P. J. Clarkson, and W. Zanker. 2004. Change and customisation
in complex engineering domains. Research in engineering design 15
(1): 1–21.
[16] Eckert, C. M., R. Keller, C. Earl, and P. J. Clarkson. 2006. Supporting
change processes in design: Complexity, prediction and reliability.
Reliability Engineering & System Safety 91 (12): 1521–1534.
[17] Emery, F. E., and E. L. Trist. 1960. Socio-technical systems. management
sciences, models and techniques. churchman cw et al.
[18] Galbraith, J. R. 1974. Organization design: An information processing
view. Interfaces 4 (3): 28–36.
[19] Geels, F. W. 2004. From sectoral systems of innovation to sociotechnical
systems: Insights about dynamics and change from sociology
and institutional theory. Research policy 33 (6-7): 897–920.
[20] Georgantzas, N. C., and E. G. Katsamakas. 2008. Information systems
research with system dynamics. System Dynamics Review: The Journal
of the System Dynamics Society 24 (3): 247–264.
[21] Giffin, M., O. de Weck, G. Bounova, R. Keller, C. Eckert, and P. J.
Clarkson. 2009. Change propagation analysis in complex technical
systems. Journal of Mechanical Design 131 (8): 081001.
[22] Henry, D., and J. E. Ramirez-Marquez. 2012. Generic metrics and
quantitative approaches for system resilience as a function of time.
Reliability Engineering & System Safety 99:114–122.
[23] Jarratt, T., C. M. Eckert, N. H. Caldwell, and P. J. Clarkson. 2011.
Engineering change: an overview and perspective on the literature.
Research in engineering design 22 (2): 103–124.
[24] Joerges, B. 1988. Large technical systems: the concept and the issues.
Wiss.-zentrum für Sozialforschung.
[25] Kasperek, D., D. Schenk, M. Kreimeyer, M. Maurer, and U. Lindemann.

Structure-based system dynamics analysis of engineering design
processes. Systems Engineering 19 (3): 278–298.
[26] Kawakami, S. 2014. Application of a systems-theoretic approach to
risk analysis of high-speed rail project management in the us. Master’s
thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
[27] Ketchum, and E. Trist. 1992. All teams are not created equal: how
employee empowerment really works. Sage.
[28] Kurtz, C. F., and D. J. Snowden. 2003. The new dynamics of strategy:
Sense-making in a complex and complicated world. IBM systems
journal 42 (3): 462–483.
[29] Li, X., and S. E. Madnick. 2015. Understanding the dynamics of
service-oriented architecture implementation. Journal of Management
Information Systems 32 (2): 104–133.
[30] Luna-Reyes, L. F., J. Zhang, J. Ramon Gil-Garcia, and A. M. Cresswell. Information systems development as emergent socio-technical
change: a practice approach. European Journal of Information Systems
14 (1): 93–105.
[31] Maier, J. F., C. M. Eckert, and P. J. Clarkson. 2017. Model granularity
in engineering design–concepts and framework. Design Science 3.
[32] Manz, C. C., and G. L. Stewart. 1997. Attaining flexible stability by
integrating total quality management and socio-technical systems theory.
Organization Science 8 (1): 59–70.
[33] Mayntz, R., and T. P. Hughes. 1988. The development of large technical
systems, frankfurt a. M., Boulder, Colorado.
[34] Okami, S., and N. Kohtake. 2017. Transitional complexity of health
information system of systems: managing by the engineering systems
multiple-domain modeling approach. IEEE Systems Journal 13 (1): 952–
[35] Ottens, M., M. Franssen, P. Kroes, I. Van De Poel et al. 2006. Modelling
infrastructures as socio-technical systems. International journal of
critical infrastructures 2 (2/3): 133.
[36] Perrow, C. 2011. Normal accidents: Living with high risk technologiesupdated
edition. Princeton university press.
[37] Reiman, T., and P. Oedewald. 2007. Assessment of complex sociotechnical
systems–theoretical issues concerning the use of organizational
culture and organizational core task concepts. Safety Science 45 (7):
[38] Simon, H. A. 1957. Models of man; social and rational.
[39] Snowden, D. J., and M. E. Boone. 2007. A leader’s framework for
decision making. Harvard business review 85 (11): 68.
[40] Sosa, M., S. Eppinger, and M. Rowles, Craig. 2004. The misalignment
of product architecture and organizational structure in complex product
development. Management Science 50 (12): 1674–1689.
[41] Sosa, M. E., S. D. Eppinger, and C. M. Rowles. 2003. Identifying
modular and integrative systems and their impact on design team
interactions. Journal of mechanical design 125 (2): 240–252.
[42] Sosa, M. E., S. D. Eppinger, and C. M. Rowles. 2007. A network
approach to define modularity of components in complex products.
Journal of mechanical design 129 (11): 1118–1129.
[43] Spoorwegen, N. 2018, December. NS annual report 2018.
[44] Trist, E. L., and K. W. Bamforth. 1951. Some social and psychological
consequences of the longwall method of coal-getting: An examination
of the psychological situation and defences of a work group in relation
to the social structure and technological content of the work system.
Human relations 4 (1): 3–38.
[45] Tushman, M. L., and D. A. Nadler. 1978. Information processing as an
integrating concept in organizational design. Academy of management
review 3 (3): 613–624.
[46] Van de Ven, A. H., A. L. Delbecq, and R. Koenig Jr. 1976. Determinants
of coordination modes within organizations. American sociological
[47] Von Bertalanffy, L. 1950. The theory of open systems in physics and
biology. Science 111 (2872): 23–29.
[48] Williams, T. M. 1999. The need for new paradigms for complex projects.
International journal of project management 17 (5): 269–273.
[49] Yassine, A. A., R. H. Chidiac, and I. H. Osman. 2013. Simultaneous
optimisation of products, processes, and people in development projects.
Journal of Engineering Design 24 (4): 272–292.