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Many model thinking in systems ergonomics: a case study in road safety

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In complexity science, the many models thinking philosophy argues for a multi-method approach to complex problems. This article investigates whether the use of multiple systems ergonomics methods to examine the same problem is useful, or whether using different approaches creates incompatible analyses. Five systems ergonomics analyses of road trauma are examined and their key insights extracted. The extent to which these insights are compatible with one another and can be integrated when attempting to reduce road trauma is assessed. The findings indicate that applying several systems ergonomics methods to the same problem is useful, as multiple insights are developed and deficiencies in one approach are countered by the others. Importantly, the case study demonstrates that the insights gained are compatible and support the development of holistic systems thinking-based interventions. In conclusion it is recommended that a many systems ergonomics model thinking approach be adopted by ergonomists working in complex problem spaces.

Practitioner Summary: Many model thinking uses multiple methods to understand complex problems. We explore whether this is beneficial in systems ergonomics. Five models of road trauma, developed using five systems ergonomics methods, are examined. The findings demonstrate that a many model systems ergonomics approach produces a diverse but complimentary set of insights.
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Keywords: Complex systems; ergonomics; ergonomics methods; systems ergonomics; systems thinking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems, Faculty of Arts, Business and Law, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Australia

Publication date: May 4, 2019

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