A Socio-Technical Perspective on the Design of IT Architectures: The Lowlands Lens

Mark Govers, Pierre van Amelsvoort

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The paper aims at developing a more comprehensive design theory for designing effective IT architectures based on organizational design principles. It builds on the sociotechnical systems design theory (STS-D) for the design of work, workplaces, and organizations as developed in the Lowlands (The Netherlands and Belgium). Traditional sociotechnical approaches study the effects of the technical system on the social system and try to jointly optimize both systems by end-users’ participation. The Lowlands STS-D approach focuses on creating organizational conditions for developing humane and productive organizations. Organizations are considered as social systems.
Technical systems need to support the effective functioning of work and control of work within that social system. Therefore, the division of labour is central in the Lowlands STS-D approach. It is articulated in designing the execution tasks (production structure) and control tasks (control structure). Furthermore, it claims that the design of IT architecture follows after organizational design of the production and control structure. This boils down to the design of provisioning of information needed at workplaces and between workplaces. To understand the Lowlands
approach for designing IT architecture, called archipelago, we will first in-depth explain its organizational design principles and sequence, and its application for designing IT architecture, which is becoming ever more feasible with new technologies. Furthermore, with this paper we attempt to bridge the different languages used by organizational and IT designers as they should jointly work on the same outcome: humane and productive organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManagement Studies
PublisherDavid Publishing
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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