Technological changes that involve aspects of the working environment require the involvement of actors--for example, consultants, system designers, managers, and employees--in all phases of the process with regard to technical as well as organizational issues. If all actors are enabled to bring in their knowledge and experience, a common learning process can be established that offers better opportunities for employee development as well as company development. Simulation/gaming can be defined as a learning environment where participants are actively involved in experiments, for example, in the form of role-plays, or simulations of daily work situations, or developmental scenarios. Being away from the real workplace, participants have the freedom to make wrong decisions and to learn from them.
On the basis of the assumptions mentioned above, we see a great potential for methods supporting organizational change. The field of research that is referred to in this article concerns the process industry and, particularly, monitoring work in control rooms. The process industry is a well-documented area. It has been the focus of numerous research projects and development projects reporting both on the technical development and on the ergonomics of monitoring work in the control room. However, current knowledge is not being used optimally. For instance, problems occur with regard to the psychological working environment and the organization of work. The working environment and the organization of work are both quite traditional.
The potential for improving working environment and working conditions is linked with three major components of technological development: (a) technique, for example, technical solutions and possibilities; (b) knowledge, for example, qualifications developed and used at work; and (c) organizational structure, for example, tasks and responsibilities and cooperation.
It is a challenge to match the new technical possibilities with new organizational structures and new qualifications. An important question is how these new structures can be developed and established in such a way that the working conditions for employees improve. At the same time, we want to create a better working environment and create opportunities for learning and competence development in general. This is necessary for employees who have to be active partitioners in the continuous technological and organizational renewal processes of the future organization.
Learning in Relation to Technological Innovation
To successfully implement new technology or organizational changes, employees should be enabled to use this new technology by obtaining new knowledge and skills. Furthermore, employees should be willing to accept the consequences of new technology or organizational changes--for example, new work functions, responsibilities, and duties. The social structure and organizational culture will also be influenced. In our opinion, these consequences of technological …