Socio-Technical Systems – 2012

Fifth Hopkinton Conference on Sociotechnical Systems – 2012

In October 2012, the Research Institute hosted its fifth event in the Hopkinton Conference series. The Hopkinton Conference on Sociotechnical Systems and Safety was organized with colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sociotechnical systems, defined as complex sets of people and technical systems whose individual and combined characteristics greatly impact system effectiveness and safety, constitute an important new paradigm in safety research.

Twenty-five of the world’s leading experts on sociotechnical systems convened at the Research Institute for a two-day symposium. The conference provided a unique forum for sharing diverse theoretical perspectives and forming research partner-ships devoted to the enhancement of safety and resilience in large systems, such as plants and work sites, transportation systems, and public venues.

The primary goal of the 2012 Hopkinton Conference was to define re-search directions in sociotechnical systems approaches to safety and to explore promising new research objectives and methods. The event provided a significant opportunity to bring together leading researchers and practitioners associated with sociotechnical systems theory to focus on developing a research agenda geared toward reducing workplace accidents and injuries.

In all, five working groups each produced a manuscript covering one of the key areas addressed during the conference: •  concepts, definitions, and frameworks •  defining research methodologies for sociotechnical systems and safety• modeling and simulation of sociotechnical systems and safety outcome • communication and decision-making within sociotechnical systems• and the sociotechnical at-tributes of safe and unsafe organizations The journal Ergonomics will publish an upcoming special issue that includes these five manuscripts, along with articles providing an overview of the conference and a summary of its major findings and recommendations.