A work system perspective on digital transformation

This is an Adaptation, Information Management Technology (AIMTech) event taking place at Leeds University Business School on Thursday 21 February 2019


This seminar covers a work system perspective on digital transformation based on the assumption that an enterprise consists of multiple interacting work systems and produces product/services that facilitate value creation by customers in their own environments for their own purposes. In contrast with largely aspirational views of digital transformation, this seminar builds on a straightforward operational interpretation based on the main ideas in work system theory (WST) the work system method (WSM), and some of the main extensions of WST. From that perspective, digital transformation consists of IT-reliant changes in important work systems, ideally resulting in significant enterprise-level benefits in areas such as productivity, coordination, responsiveness to customer needs, knowledge acquisition, resilience, flexibility, and more knowledgeable and capable workforce. To address faculty interest in supply chain and activity theory, the seminar will include comments about the possible application of WST/WSM to supply chains and about areas of overlap and possible synergy between WST/WSM and activity theory in regard to digital transformation. 

For further information, please contact Joanne Morgan at j.s.morgan@leeds.ac.uk

About the speaker

Steven Alter is Professor Emeritus at the University of San Francisco. After receiving a PhD at MIT and teaching at the University of Southern California, he served as vice president of a manufacturing software start-up that was acquired by Applied Materials. Upon returning to academia he wrote four editions of a major IS textbook. That effort led to research focused on developing systems analysis and design methods that business professionals could use for their own understanding and to help them collaborate more effectively with IT professionals, consultants, and vendors. The result was various versions of the “work system method (WSM),” which focuses on the business problem of creating or improving a sociotechnical work system, rather than the more limited technical challenge of creating or improving software that satisfies requirements. Most of his articles in journals and conference proceedings are related to WSM, work system theory (WST), service systems, and extensions of WST such as work system design principles, a theory of workarounds, a service value chain framework, and a new theory of IS user satisfaction.