Work-focused analysis and design

Gavan Lintern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The past decade has seen papers in this journal and other cognitive engineering publications expressing concern about some of our foundational ideas. Cognition, a central construct for this journal, is one that some authors would see banished. Function allocation is another. These commentaries, if taken seriously, have the potential to transform our discipline but whether for benefit or detriment is questionable. I review those commentaries in this paper and conclude that the issues raised have merit but that the proposed solutions would be counterproductive, having the potential, if widely implemented, to cripple our discipline. I argue that these commentaries appear credible only because they appeal to an objectivist paradigm as engendered by a techno-centric world view and that they fail to accommodate the inescapable subjectivity of a scientific enterprise. I further argue that these commentaries do not take full account of the fundamental basis of our discipline; that it is an analysis and design discipline and that it is first and foremost human centric. Our discipline requires a work-focused perspective. We need to think seriously about what that means, and we need to deploy language and methods that are entirely consistent with a work-focused stance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalCognition, Technology & Work
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Function allocation

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