InterJournal Complex Systems, 243
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [243]
Submission Date: 981215
Human Performance Technology from a Complex Adaptive Systems View
Author(s): Brian Clouse

Subject(s): CX.13

Category: Brief Article

Abstract:

The American Society for Training and Development defines Human Performance Technology as a "systematic approach to analyzing, improving, and managing performance in the workplace through the use of appropriate and varied interventions." The mission of Human Performance Technologists is to diagnose performance problems, identify their causes, and provide their solutions. Because performance problems often originate at organizational levels higher than that of the individual performer, Human Performance Technologists probe into matters of organizational mission and structure, job design, and reward systems. Nonetheless, Human Performance Technology, with its traditional engineering approach to bringing about increased organizational effectiveness, may prove to be a positively presumptuous enterprise. Human Performance Technology's self-deputization to predict, control, and manage performance in human organizations is wholly untenable. Human organizations are complex adaptive systems, tending to be nonlinear, interactive, open, chaotic, interdependent, unpredictable, and uncontrollable. Without an understanding of complex systems, Human Performance Technologists can not effectively carry out their own undertaking to support the performance of others. The purpose of this research is to determine the importance a complex systems view of organizational behavior holds for the practice of Human Performance Technology. It also explores and addresses approaches Human Performance Technologists can take to fulfill their mission of supporting and improving performance in organizations. Such approaches must be consistent with the dynamic, nonlinear, and interdependent nature of complex adaptive systems.

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