Modelling and simulation of complex sociotechnical systems: envisioning and analysing work environments

Lawrence J. Hettinger, Alex Kirlik, Yang Miang Goh, Peter Buckle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accurate comprehension and analysis of complex sociotechnical systems is a daunting task. Empirically examining, or simply envisioning the structure and behaviour of such systems challenges traditional analytic and experimental approaches as well as our everyday cognitive capabilities. Computer-based models and simulations afford potentially useful means of accomplishing sociotechnical system design and analysis objectives. From a design perspective, they can provide a basis for a common mental model among stakeholders, thereby facilitating accurate comprehension of factors impacting system performance and potential effects of system modifications. From a research perspective, models and simulations afford the means to study aspects of sociotechnical system design and operation, including the potential impact of modifications to structural and dynamic system properties, in ways not feasible with traditional experimental approaches. This paper describes issues involved in the design and use of such models and simulations and describes a proposed path forward to their development and implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-614
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015


  • complex adaptive systems
  • modelling and simulation
  • occupational safety
  • sociotechnical systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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