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date: 25 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a perspective of human expertise in sociotechnical systems based on the phenomenon of self-organization. Consistent with the ideals of the field of cognitive systems engineering, this perspective is based on empirical observations of how work is achieved in complex settings and incorporates an emphasis on design. The proposed perspective is motivated by the observation that workers in sociotechnical systems adapt not just their individual behaviors, but also their collective structures, in ways that are closely fitted to the evolving circumstances, such that these systems are necessarily self-organizing, a phenomenon that is essential for dealing with complexity in the task environment. Accordingly, the chapter explores in depth the theoretical and design implications of the phenomenon of self-organization for understanding and supporting human expertise in sociotechnical systems, and draws attention to the broader implications of this phenomenon for advancing a social basis for human cognition.

Keywords: expertise, sociotechnical systems, adaptation, self-organization, cognitive systems engineering, complexity, design, cognition, social cognition

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