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A Strategy for Human Factors/Ergonomics: Developing the Discipline and Profession

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Unlabelled: Human factors/ergonomics (HFE) has great potential to contribute to the design of all kinds of systems with people (work systems, product/service systems), but faces challenges in the readiness of its market and in the supply of high-quality applications. HFE has a unique combination of three fundamental characteristics: (1) it takes a systems approach (2) it is design driven and (3) it focuses on two closely related outcomes: performance and well-being. In order to contribute to future system design, HFE must demonstrate its value more successfully to the main stakeholders of system design. HFE already has a strong value proposition (mainly well-being) and interactivity with the stakeholder group of 'system actors' (employees and product/service users). However, the value proposition (mainly performance) and relationships with the stakeholder groups of 'system experts' (experts fromtechnical and social sciences involved in system design), and 'system decision makers' (managers and other decision makers involved in system design, purchase, implementation and use), who have a strong power to influence system design, need to be developed. Therefore, the first main strategic direction is to strengthen the demand for high-quality HFE by increasing awareness among powerful stakeholders of the value of high-quality HFE by communicating with stakeholders, by building partnerships and by educating stakeholders. The second main strategic direction is to strengthen the application of high-quality HFE by promoting the education of HFE specialists, by ensuring high-quality standards of HFE applications and HFE specialists, and by promoting HFE research excellence at universities and other organisations. This strategy requires cooperation between the HFE community at large, consisting of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), local (national and regional) HFE societies, and HFE specialists. We propose a joint world-wide HFE development plan, in which the IEA takes a leadership role. Practitioner summary: Human factors/ergonomics (HFE) has much to offer by addressing major business and societal challenges regarding work and product/service systems. HFE potential, however, is underexploited. This paper presents a strategy for the HFE community to strengthen demand and application of high-quality HFE, emphasising its key elements: systems approach, design driven, and performance and well-being goals.
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A strategy for human factors/ergonomics: developing the discipline
and profession
Jan Dul
a
*, Ralph Bruder
b
, Peter Buckle
c
, Pascale Carayon
d
, Pierre Falzon
e
,
William S. Marras
f
, John R. Wilson
g
and Bas van der Doelen
h
a
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands;
b
Institute
of Ergonomics, Technische Universita
¨t Darmstadt, Germany;
c
Imperial College, Department of
Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, London, UK;
d
Center for Quality and Productivity
Improvement, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-
Madison, Madison, USA;
e
Research Center on Work and Development, Cnam, Paris, France;
f
The Ohio State University, Biodynamics Laboratory, USA;
g
Human Factors Research Group,
Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, UK;
h
Department of Knowledge and
Communication, BMA Ergonomics, Zwolle, the Netherlands
(Received 7 December 2011; final version received 22 January 2012)
Human factors/ergonomics (HFE) has great potential to contribute to the design
of all kinds of systems with people (work systems, product/service systems), but
faces challenges in the readiness of its market and in the supply of high-quality
applications. HFE has a unique combination of three fundamental character-
istics: (1) it takes a systems approach (2) it is design driven and (3) it focuses on
two closely related outcomes: performance and well-being. In order to contribute
to future system design, HFE must demonstrate its value more successfully to
the main stakeholders of system design. HFE already has a strong value
proposition (mainly well-being) and interactivity with the stakeholder group of
‘system actors’ (employees and product/service users). However, the value
proposition (mainly performance) and relationships with the stakeholder groups
of ‘system experts’ (experts from technical and social sciences involved in
system design), and ‘system decision makers’ (managers and other decision
makers involved in system design, purchase, implementation and use), who have
a strong power to influence system design, need to be developed. Therefore, the
first main strategic direction is to strengthen the demand for high-quality HFE
by increasing awareness among powerful stakeholders of the value of high-quality
HFE by communicating with stakeholders, by building partnerships and by
educating stakeholders. The second main strategic direction is to strengthen the
application of high-quality HFE by promoting the education of HFE specialists, by
ensuring high-quality standards of HFE applications and HFE specialists, and
by promoting HFE research excellence at universities and other organisations.
This strategy requires cooperation between the HFE community at large,
consisting of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), local (national and
regional) HFE societies, and HFE specialists. We propose a joint world-wide
HFE development plan, in which the IEA takes a leadership role.
Practitioner Summary: Human factors/ergonomics (HFE) has much to offer by
addressing major business and societal challenges regarding work and product/
service systems. HFE potential, however, is underexploited. This paper presents a
strategy for the HFE community to strengthen demand and application of
*Corresponding author. Email: jdul@rsm.nl
Ergonomics
2012, 1–27, iFirst article
ISSN 0014-0139 print/ISSN 1366-5847 online
Ó2012 Taylor & Francis
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2012.661087
http://www.tandfonline.com
high-quality HFE, emphasising its key elements: systems approach, design driven,
and performance and well-being goals.
Keywords: human factors/ergonomics discipline, human factors/ergonomics
profession, future of ergonomics, work systems, product/service systems,
performance
1. Introduction
This paper provides a vision of the future of the human factors/ergonomics (HFE)
discipline and profession (the terms ergonomics and human factors are used
interchangeably
1
). The paper presents the findings of the Future of Ergonomics
Committee
2
, which was established in December 2010 by the International
Ergonomics Association (IEA) and which reported its results at the 18th Triennial
World Congress on Ergonomics, IEA2012 in Brazil. The goal of the committee was
to formulate a position paper for the HFE community on strategies for the future
of the HFE discipline and profession. During the more than 50 years of HFE
history, several papers have been published discussing the future of ergonomics.
Recent examples include special issues in Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science
(Hollnagel 2001) and Ergonomics (Stanton and Stammers 2008). Most papers predict
the future of ergonomics for specific HFE areas in terms of expected developments
and effects on the content of the discipline, or in specific regions. In contrast, the
present paper focuses on a strategy for the world-wide promotion of the discipline
and profession in order to reach global excellence in HFE. The paper does not
contain an operational plan to realise this strategy.
The committee developed a strategy for the future of HFE by sharing and
discussing the views of committee members and many other HFE specialists.
Besides electronic communication among committee members, the committee held
physical meetings in Amsterdam (March 2011, November 2011) and Paris (June
2011), and had a brainstorming session with IEA council members in Grahams-
town, South Africa (April 2011). Inputs from many other HFE specialists
worldwide were obtained via face-to-face interviews and email exchange (a list of
people who provided input can be found in the Acknowledgements). Although the
committee has collected many documents on the future of HFE, the views
expressed in this paper are not based on this literature or on a literature review.
However, we added references for illustration and further reading. This paper
presents the final view of the committee. The committee consists mainly of western
academics with extensive international experience, and with substantial
experience of working closely with practitioners and clients in all areas of industry
and commerce. This document is not a ‘consensus’ paper representing all views
in the HFE community, nor does it necessarily reflect the view of the IEA. The
content is available to any organisation (including the IEA and local HFE
societies) and any individual to develop new strategies, tactics and operations
within their own context.
The starting point of this paper is that HFE has great potential to ensure that
any designed artefact, ranging from a consumer product to an organisational
environment, is shaped around the capacities and aspirations of humans, such that
performance and well-being are optimised. When HFE does not play a role in
system design, this can lead to sub-optimal systems with quality deficits, reduced
efficiency, illness, dissatisfaction, etc. HFE can provide solutions to these problems.
2J. Dul et al.
However, the potential of HFE remains under-exploited. At least four reasons have
been identified. First, many stakeholders involved in the design, management and
use of artefacts (e.g. customers, workers, managers, other professionals, society at
large) are not aware of the value of HFE and as a consequence, do not exhibit a
strong demand for HFE. Second, in certain situations where there is a demand for
HFE (e.g. ‘ergonomic products’ in product marketing, ‘ergonomic systems’ in
safety critical industries such as defence, transport, oil, and healthcare), there is not
enough high-quality HFE in the design process because HFE is lacking or its
application is too limited in scope, resulting in sub-optimal solutions. Third, the field
is very small in comparison to established disciplines involved in designing
artefacts like engineering and psychology, and is often incorporated within these
disciplines without explicit reference to the HFE discipline. Fourth, the very strength
of HFE, its multi-disciplinary base, is also a potential weakness; a diversity of
topics, views and practices exist within the HFE community, resulting in unclear
communication to the external world.
In order to develop a strategy for the HFE discipline and profession, we start by
describing the fundamental characteristics of HFE in Section 2. Then, we identify
developments in the external world that are important for HFE in Section 3. Next,
we formulate the value of HFE for the main stakeholders of system design. In
Section 5, we propose the strategic positioning of the HFE discipline, and finally we
discuss possible strategic actions for the HFE community that can help to achieve
a prosperous future for HFE.
2. The fundamental characteristics of the HFE discipline and profession
HFE focuses on systems in which humans interact with their environment. The
environment is complex and consists of the physical environment (‘things’), the
organisational environment (how activities are organised and controlled), and
the social environment (other people, culture) (Moray 2000, Wilson 2000, Carayon
2006). The system can be a work system (where the human is a worker and the
environment is the work environment) or a product/service system (where the human
is a product user or person who receives a service and the environment is the
environment where the product is used or where the service is received)
3
. The focus
of HFE is to jointly improve performance and well-being by designing the
integrative whole better, and by integrating the human into the system better. This
is done by fitting the environment to the human. HFE typically takes a hierarchical
approach where environmental design to fit the human is seen as the priority, and
selecting people to fit the environment or training people to fit the system is only
considered when the former is not possible. With a better fitting environment,
humans are better able to contribute to performance
4
. Over the past 50þyears, the
HFE community has developed and documented a substantial body of knowledge
and skills regarding interactions between humans and their environment, and
methodologies for analysing and designing systems.
The definition of HFE and HFE specialists (adopted by the IEA in 2000) reflects
this body of knowledge as follows (IEA 2000):
‘Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the
understanding of the interactions among humans and other elements of a system,
and the profession that applies theoretical principles, data and methods to design
in order to optimize well-being and overall performance.’
Ergonomics 3
‘Practitioners of ergonomics, ergonomists, contribute to the planning, design,
implementation, evaluation, redesign and continuous improvement of tasks,
jobs, products, technologies, processes, organisations, environments and systems
in order to make them compatible with the needs, abilities and limitations of
people.’
Three fundamental characteristics of HFE can be derived from these
descriptions:
.HFE takes a systems approach.
.HFE is design driven.
.HFE focuses on two related outcomes: performance and well-being.
2.1. HFE takes a systems approach
A system is a set of interacting and interdependent components that form an
integrated whole. HFE focuses on goal-oriented and purposefully designed systems
consisting of humans and their environment (Helander 1997, Schlick 2009). The
environment can be any human-made artefact e.g. (work)place, tool, product,
technical processes, service, software, built environment, task, organisational design,
etc. as well as other humans (Wilson 2000). HFE considers different aspects of
the person (physical, physiological, psychological (affective and cognitive), and
social) and different aspects of the environment (physical, social, informational, etc.).
It can address issues on various system levels from micro-level (e.g. humans using
tools or performing single tasks) to meso-level (e.g. humans as part of technical
processes or organisations) to macro level (e.g. humans as part of networks of
organisations, regions, countries, or the world) (Rasmussen 2000). When defining
problems and formulating solutions, system boundaries are defined, and the focus of
HFE can be on specific aspects of people (e.g. only physical), on specific aspects
of the environment (e.g. only workplace), or on a specific level (e.g. micro), but the
broader context of the human within the environment is always taken into
consideration (‘contextualisation’). This broad perspective of HFE can be referred to
as a ‘systems approach’ or a ‘holistic approach.’
The systems or holistic approach of HFE and its wide (almost unlimited) context
for application differentiates it from other more narrow disciplines such as
cognitive psychology and human movement science (Brewer and Hsiang 2002).
These other disciplines may share a human view with HFE, but not a comprehensive
view.
2.2. HFE is design driven
HFE seeks to improve performance and well-being through systems design. Analyses
and assessments result in recommendations and actions for this design. HFE can
be involved in all stages of planning, design, implementation, evaluation,
maintenance, redesign and continuous improvement of systems (Japan Ergonomics
Society 2006). These stages are not necessarily sequential; they are recursive,
interdependent, dynamic, but design is at the heart of them. Decisions at one stage
may affect or be affected by decisions at other stages.
HFE specialists can be active participants in design processes, and a particular
feature of HFE is that those who will be part of the system being designed are often
4J. Dul et al.
brought into the development process as participants (Noro and Imada 1991).
HFE specialists can have different roles. For example, they can act as specialists of
the human component of the system. The human component should be understood
as covering both individual and collective or social aspects, from micro to macro
level. HFE specialists have competencies regarding methods for analysing and acting
on situations, methods for designing and assessing technical and organisational
environments, methods for organising and managing participatory approaches, and
methods for redesigning and continuously improving systems (Woods and Dekker
2000). HFE specialists analyse and solve problems in partnership with other
contributors to design (Noy 1995, Rasmussen 2000). They can also play an
integrative role in design decisions, based on their knowledge and skills of design as
an activity (including mental processes of contributors to the design, and
collective interaction processes). Furthermore, they can stimulate and moderate
design processes by, for instance, translating engineering terminology or concepts to
end-user terminology and vice versa.
This design orientation of HFE differentiates it from other disciplines such as
sociology, and anthropology. These other disciplines may share a comprehensive
view with HFE, but not an action view (Helander 1997).
2.3. HFE focuses on two related outcomes: performance and well-being
By fitting the environment to the human, two related system outcomes can be
achieved: performance (e.g. productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, quality,
innovativeness, flexibility, (systems) safety and security, reliability, sustainability)
and well-being (e.g. health and safety, satisfaction, pleasure, learning, personal
development). These and other outcomes are balanced by HFE specialists, managing
practical as well as ethical trade-offs within systems (e.g. Wilson et al. 2009).
Performance and well-being interact: performance can influence well-being, and
well-being can influence performance, both in the short and the long-term (see
Figure 1).
Reduced performance and well-being can occur when there is a lack of fit
between the environment and human capabilities and aspirations. For example,
humans may perform below their capabilities and standards because other parts of
the system are an obstacle rather than a supporting environment (e.g. due to lack
of time, inappropriate equipment, insufficient support) (Falzon 2005, Falzon et al.
2012). Well-being and performance are intertwined and should be understood as
strongly connected (Pot and Koningsveld 2009).
Figure 1. The effect of HFE design on performance and well-being.
Ergonomics 5
HFE recognises that any system always produces two outcomes: performance
and well-being. By fitting the environment to the human, HFE can contribute to
optimising
5
these joint outcomes (Neumann and Dul 2010).
This focus of HFE on two joint outcomes is a differential characteristic. Other
disciplines such as engineering, psychology, and medicine share the focus on one of
the outcomes with HFE, but not on both outcomes.
3. Developments in the external world (general description)
Developments in the world are having major impacts on systems. These
developments and their significance for HFE need to be identified (Hendrick 1991,
Noy 2000, Japan Ergonomics Society 2006) in order to set out a strategy for the
future. Without attempting to be complete, we describe some global trends regarding
changes that impact HFE.
3.1. Global change of work systems
The change in the global economic landscape over the last decade has resulted in a
significant shift in the types of work that occur in different regions of the world.
These changes have occurred in economically advanced nations, as well as in
economically developing nations. Historically, economically advanced nations have
been heavily involved in mass goods manufacturing. However, over the past two
decades, these nations have increasingly outsourced manufacturing and service
functions to economically developing countries, within a supply chain and global
market perspective. This has shifted the work performed within the economically
advanced nations to an emphasis on a service economy (including healthcare
services), resulting in more focus on the design of work systems for service
production, and on the design of non-work systems such as services for customers
and human-computer interactions (Drury 2008, Hedge and Spier 2008). Addition-
ally, stimulation of entrepreneurship has resulted in a growing number of small-sized
and informal businesses in some economically advanced nations.
At the same time, economically developing countries have enlarged their
manufacturing base, thus creating more jobs. As a result, work, historically based
on local agriculture, has shifted towards more emphasis on manufacturing (often
without the HFE benefits found in economically advanced nations). Goods are
often produced by workers earning low wages and working under unfavourable
conditions. Sharp increases in manufacturing are occurring because of the low
cost of goods production. In addition, many of these economically developing
nations are simultaneously experiencing an increase in low wage service sector
jobs (e.g. call centres, banking). At the same time, in some countries, the informal
sector involves the largest number of workers (Caple 2008) and agriculture
remains the principal sector contributing to the country’s economic performance,
including sometimes children who carry out tasks for very low or no wages
(Gangopadhyay et al. 2004).
Furthermore, there is a continuing trend of mechanisation and automation of
work systems, not only in manufacturing but also in the service industry (Schlick
2009). The introduction of more technology and increased capabilities of technology
(many times beyond human capabilities) may change the relationship between
people and technology.
6J. Dul et al.
3.2. Cultural diversity
One major impact of the trends described above is the increased interdependencies
between economies, industries and companies around the world. Consequently,
production and distribution systems are internationally organised with a culturally
diverse workforce, and products and services are consumed by an increasingly
diverse set of customers in markets around the world. As a result, a diverse set of
humans with different cultural backgrounds, and different characteristics and
aspirations has become part of work and product/consumer systems. Environments
that were properly designed for one group of people may not be appropriate for
other groups of people.
HFE can address this trend of cultural diversity by contributing to the cross-
cultural design of production and distribution systems that fit the diverse workforce,
and to the cross-cultural design of products and services that fit the diversity of users
(Moray 2000, Japan Ergonomics Society 2006). In cross-cultural design, it is
acknowledged that people from different cultures have different capabilities and
aspirations, which affect the design of systems of which they are part. Examples
include the design of global supply chains (Riedel and Mueller 2009) and the design
of international digital media (Proctor et al. 2011).
3.3. Ageing
Several parts of the world are experiencing a demographic change known as
population ageing, brought about by a combination of longer life expectancy,
declining fertility, and the progression through life of a large ‘baby boom’
generation. In the USA, the workforce is ageing; in Europe the proportion of older
people in the working populations in European countries is increasing more than
in other continents. In India, the retirement age of office or industrial workers has
recently been raised. As a consequence, a large group of older humans have become
part of work and product/service systems. Environments that were designed for
the current group of humans may not be as suitable for elderly people in the system.
Another consequence of ageing is the increased relevance of equipment, furniture,
IT devices, services, etc. targeting the older population at work, and adapted to their
characteristics.
HFE can contribute by ensuring that work systems and products/services fit the
older population, taking into account age-related changes in physical, cognitive,
visual and other capabilities, and different aspirations (Japan Ergonomics Society
2006). Older people may have some reduced capabilities, but also more developed
capabilities such as mental growth (strategic thinking, language skills, motivation,
commitment, work expertise) and some aspects of social capabilities (ability to adjust
their behaviour). However, there are large variations among older age groups, and
these can become more pronounced with age (Ilmarinen 2005).
HFE can help develop more versatile systems that are better matched to a wide
range of groups. This approach does not only apply to people of different age
groups, but also to people with disabilities, obesity (Buckle and Buckle 2011), or
otherwise different capabilities and aspirations (‘design for all’). However, this
ageing trend is not global. In other parts of the world, e.g. Sub-Saharan African
countries, life expectancy is on the decline because a large part of the population is
suffering from HIV and related illnesses. In these countries, the main concern is
having a sustainable workforce that can meet the requirements of the job market.
Ergonomics 7
3.4. Information and communication technology (ICT)
There are several ICT-related changes that impact the manner in which work and
activities of daily living are performed (Karwowski 2006). Rapid and continuous
developments in computer technology, telecommunication technology and media
technology have given rise to new interactive activities such as social media, gaming,
and to an explosion of information transfer. People’s lives have become more and
more dependent on ICT and virtual networks. For example, these developments
have an impact on the delivery of education. Similarly, new dimensions in product
quality have emerged beyond usability, such as emotional design and pleasurable
interactions.
ICT developments have brought about many changes in work organisation and
organisational design. These include more focus on teamwork, the rise of virtual
organisations, remote work including working from home, fading borders between
occupational and private life, and increased complexity of networks of organisations
(Carayon and Smith 2000).
Networks of organisations have emerged as an organisational model to support
collaboration between organisations that have common goals. Very often organisa-
tional networks rely on technology to communicate and share information, for
instance, supply chains in manufacturing. Another example is the exchange of health
information, which allows different healthcare organisations to share information
about patients.
Increasingly, companies are relying on virtual arrangements to conduct their
business. Virtual sociotechnical systems comprising diverse people, who are
geographically dispersed, use information and communication technologies to
perform their work remotely (Gibson and Gibbs 2006).
HFE specialists can contribute to the design of systems to allow people to work
together and share information across organisational boundaries (Woods and
Dekker 2000). For example, HFE can influence the design of virtual sociotechnical
systems by showing how trust and collaboration can be enhanced when team
members work remotely and communicate via technology (Patel et al. 2012). HFE
can also contribute to the design of natural user interfaces in human-computer
interactions.
3.5. Enhanced competitiveness and the need for innovation
The enhanced competitiveness among companies, which is partly a result of
globalisation, has forced companies to develop new business strategies, and has
increased the need for companies to innovate and invent new products and services,
as well as new ways of producing these. Employees may contribute to suggestions for
the innovation of production processes and products/services. Production processes
need to be more efficient and flexible and must guarantee short product delivery
times, often resulting in intensification of work. Products and services must have
high quality characteristics beyond functionality, e.g. ease of use and positive user
experiences, to be successful in the market and to gain commercial advantage.
HFE can contribute to the renewal of business strategies and innovation in
several ways (Dul and Neumann 2009). HFE can foster employee creativity for
innovation (Dul and Ceylan 2011), can contribute to product/service innovation by
developing new products and services with unique usability and experience
characteristics, and can help a company to innovate processes and operations by
8J. Dul et al.
providing new efficient and effective ways of producing products and services
(Broberg 1997, Bruder 2000).
3.6. Sustainability and corporate social responsibility
Sustainability –the development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs– includes
attention to natural and physical resources (‘planet’), but also attention to human and
social resources (‘people’), in combination with economic sustainability (‘profit’)
(Delios 2010, Pfeffer 2010). It implies that companies do not just focus on financial
performance. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) means going beyond fulfilling
the minimum legal expectations regarding ‘planet’ and ‘people’. Poor or minimum
standards in health and safety may damage a company’s image with respect to CSR,
which would be a direct threat to the value of the CSR effort and the continuity of
the business. HFE can contribute to developing actions and programmes aimed at
combining the people and profit dimension of sustainability and social responsibility
by optimising both performance and well-being (Pfeffer 2010, Zink 2005, 2006).
In many economically developing countries, the understanding of the human
element requires knowledge of complex social and cultural environments. For
example, in South Africa, the workforce is often faced with issues such as HIV,
cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases other than HIV, and intentional violence.
These issues influence the work capacity of the population. HFE specialists in these
countries, therefore, have a significant role to play in improving both performance
(e.g. productivity) and well-being.
In conclusion, the above and other examples of developments illustrate that
systems change because the human part or the environment part of the system (or
both) change. By offering its fundamental characteristics, HFE has the potential to
contribute to the design of future systems.
4. The value of HFE for stakeholders
The contribution of HFE to system design (‘supply of HFE’) depends on the
‘demand for HFE’ by parties (‘stakeholders’) involved in system design. Demand for
HFE depends on the perceived value of HFE by stakeholders that are directly or
indirectly involved in system design. To be able to supply, HFE must show that it
can provide value to these stakeholders in order to be a respected and demanded
partner in the design process.
In this section, we first identify the main stakeholder groups for system design.
Next, we describe how the stakeholder groups could benefit from the contribution of
HFE in systems design. Finally, we evaluate the (mis)match between the potential,
perceived and provided value of HFE.
4.1. Stakeholders of system design
Four main stakeholders groups of system design can be identified:
.‘System actors’, i.e. employees, product/service users, who are part of the
system and who are directly or indirectly affected by its design and who,
directly or indirectly, affect its performance.
Ergonomics 9
.‘System experts’, i.e. professionals such as engineers and psychologists who
contribute to the design of the system based on their specific professional
backgrounds. The HFE specialist is one of the system experts who focuses on
design by fitting the environment to humans, by using a systems approach, and
by focusing on two related outcomes (performance and well-being).
.‘System decision makers’, i.e. decision makers (e.g. managers) about the
(requirements for) the system design, the purchasing of the system, its
implementation and its use.
.‘System influencers’, i.e. media, governments, standardisation organisations,
regulators, citizens who have general public interest in work system and
product/service system design.
For each of the main stakeholder groups, we distinguish four levels of
stakeholders: individual (the direct stakeholder), company, country/region, and
world (the indirect stakeholders). A stakeholder at a ‘broader’ level (e.g. country)
may represent a stakeholder at a more narrow level (e.g. company). Table 1 describes
in more detail examples of stakeholders from the main stakeholder groups that are
directly or indirectly involved in or affected by systems design. As a reference, we
have included the HFE specialist as one of the ‘system experts’.
It should be noted that people can belong to different stakeholder groups
depending on their role. For example, employees who are part of a work system are
system actors. However, they become system experts (based on their experience)
when they participate in the (re)design of a system. Similarly, managers who decide
about system designs are system decision makers, but when the systems are
implemented and the managers have management tasks in the new systems, they
become system actors.
4.2. Value of HFE for stakeholders
In this section, we describe the value of HFE contributions to systems design for the
main stakeholder groups (individuals and their representing organisations at
company, national and international level).
4.2.1. System actors
This stakeholder group can be divided into actors of work systems (employees), and
actors of product/service systems (product users, service receivers).
Employees can benefit from HFE design of work systems as it ensures well-being
in terms of e.g.:
.Improved physical, psychological and social well-being (health and safety) (e.g.
through optimisation of work environments).
.Higher motivation, growth and job satisfaction (e.g. through freedom to act and
room to grow and learn).
.Improved performance (e.g. performance leading to intrinsic or extrinsic
reward).
Product users/service receivers can benefit from HFE design of product/service
systems as it ensures well-being and performance in terms of e.g.:
10 J. Dul et al.
Table 1. Examples of stakeholders in the main stakeholder groups that are directly or indirectly involved in the design of systems, and their role and
stake in the system.
Stakeholder group
Level of stakeholders
Individual
Organisations representing in-
dividuals in the company
Organisations representing
individuals in the country/region
Organisations representing
individuals in the world
System actors
Are parts of the system
Are directly or indirectly
affected by its design
Affect directly or indirectly
performance
Actors of work systems:
Employees
Actors of product systems:
Product users
Actors of service systems:
Service receivers
Works councils (work systems)
OHS service providers
(work systems)
User groups
(products/services)
National/regional trade unions
(work systems),
National/regional organisation of
OHS services (work systems)
National/regional consumer
organisations (products/service)
National/regional government/
OHS legislation/consumer
safety legislation
National/regional user groups
(e.g. patient associations)
(product/service)
International trade unions
(work systems)
International government/
OHS legislation/
consumer safety
legislation
ILO
WHO
ICOH
International user groups
(product/service)
System experts
Are designers of the system
based on their specific
professional backgrounds
and the nature of the system
Professionals from the technical
and social sciences:, e.g.,
(industrial) engineering,
information technology/
computer science, user
experience specialists,
psychology, management
consultancy, design, facility
management, operations
management, human
resource management,
interior design, architecture)
Professional colleagues National/regional professional
associations
National/regional institutes for
professional education
National/regional research
organisations (universities,
research funding organisations)
International professional
associations
International institutes for
professional education
International research
organisations
(universities, research
funding organisations)
(continued)
Ergonomics 11
Table 1. (Continued).
Stakeholder group
Level of stakeholders
Individual
Organisations representing in-
dividuals in the company
Organisations representing
individuals in the country/region
Organisations representing
individuals in the world
HFE SPECIALIST
Are designers of the system
based on their specific
professional background in
HFE: design by fitting
environment to human,
systems approach, dual goal
(performance and
well-being)
HFE SPECIALIST
(one of the system designers)
HFE SPECIALIST
Other professionals who
support HFE
HFE SPECIALIST
National/regional HFE
organisations (e.g. IEA
federated societies, IEA
networks, national/regional
certification organisations)
HFE SPECIALIST
International HFE
organisations (IEA)
System decision makers
Are decision makers, about e.g.
the requirements for the
system design, and the final
design
Managers, other decision
makers
Management team
Purchasers of products/
services
National/regional employer
organisations
National/regional industry/trade
organisations
International employer
organisations
International industry/trade
organisations
System influencers
Have general public interest
in work and product/service
systems
Any other person interested in
systems design
Local community
Local media
Local government
National/regional general public
National/regional media
National/regional governments
National/regional standardisation
bodies
International general public
International media
International governments
International
standardisation bodies
12 J. Dul et al.
.Better experience
.Shorter time of familiarisation
.Better fitting of products/services to individual characteristics/needs
.Fewer mistakes
.Greater efficiency
In addition, as HFE commonly takes participatory design approaches, another
potential value of HFE is that it ensures that system actors can influence system
design.
4.2.2. System experts
This stakeholder group consists of a variety of professionals from the technical and
social sciences that can be involved in the design of systems, e.g. (industrial)
engineering, information technology/computer sciences, psychology, management
consultancy, design, facility management, operations management, human resource
management, interior design, architecture. These professionals aim to design a
system that performs well according to the standards of their respective professions,
and to the requirements of system decision makers. HFE can help to reach these
goals because HFE contributions help to ensure:
.Better users’ acceptance of designed systems
.Better performance
.Better fit with (legal) standards (e.g. health and safety, accessibility,
professional ethics)
.Improved development process (e.g. more efficient user consultation).
4.2.3. System decision makers
This stakeholder group consists of decision makers (e.g. managers, purchasers) that
decide about the design (e.g. requirements, final design) of work systems and
product/service systems.
Management (e.g. in companies) aims to achieve excellent performance of work
systems with the least use of resources. Typical key performance indicators of work
systems are productivity (the number of produced products and services per time),
the time needed for fulfilling a certain task, and the quality of products/services.
Decision makers about work systems can benefit from HFE as it ensures
performance in terms of e.g.:
.Better productivity by reduced time for performing work procedures (e.g.
through optimisation of work equipment, work flow or worker qualifications).
.Better quality and reliability of production processes and produced goods
and services (e.g. through optimisation of work equipment, operating
instructions or worker qualifications).
.Lower operating costs due to lower levels of health problems, motivational
deficits, accidents, absenteeism, and related productivity loss (e.g. through
better working conditions).
.More innovation by increased employee creativity (e.g. through creativity
stimulating work environments).
Ergonomics 13
.Better reputation for hiring and retention of talented employees (e.g. through
attractive work), and positive worker and consumer associations with the
firm and its products/services (employee well-being, sustainability, corporate
social responsibility, end user well-being).
.Better decision-making through improved information about the effects of
system design on employees.
Decision makers about product/service systems can benefit from HFE design as it
ensures product/service performance in terms of:
.Better market performance (e.g. due to unique characteristics such as ease of
use).
.Greater profitability.
.Less re-design due to interaction problems after market introduction.
.Better decision-making by improved information about effects of system design
on product/service users.
4.2.4. System influencers
System influencers have a general public interest in work and product/service
systems, in particular regarding their outcomes. HFE can contribute simultaneously
to two general goals:
.Social wealth of individuals and society at large (through the well-being
outcome of HFE system design).
.Economic wealth of individuals and society at large (through the performance
outcome of HFE system design).
HFE helps to ensure that people do not get injured at work or while using
products or receiving services, that work systems and product/service systems are
profitable for companies and for society at large, and that work systems and
product/service systems are accessible for people with a variety of capacities and
aspirations.
4.3. (Mis)match between potential value, perceived value, and provided value
The previous analysis shows that HFE has the potential to provide value to all of the
main stakeholders of system design. Each of the stakeholder groups could benefit
from the contribution of HFE in systems design. The analysis also shows that
stakeholders have different needs, and therefore have different views about the real
value of HFE for them. For example, system actors (employees, product/service
users) and some system influencers (e.g. governmental agencies focusing on health
and safety) will appreciate the well-being outcome of HFE, whereas system experts
(e.g. engineers) and system decision makers (e.g. managers) will appreciate the
performance outcome of HFE.
However, the perceived value of HFE by all stakeholders is limited (Helander
1999, Neumann and Dul 2010). Some people believe that HFE focuses on well-being
only; others say that it focuses on manufacturing only (e.g. heavy physical work),
or on specific goods only (e.g. chair, computer mouse). Although there are many
14 J. Dul et al.
examples of highly successful companies with work systems, where workers are
treated well from a physical, psychological, and organisational standpoint, become
creative and productive members of the organisation, and are retained in the
organisation, these ‘winning’ strategies are not always associated with HFE.
Similarly, there are numerous examples of successful products that are based upon
usability, ease of use, and perceptions of efficiency, such as iPhones, and other
kinds of high tech gadgets. These devices are widely successful because of HFE
features, yet the terms human factors or ergonomics are seldom heard when
discussing these products, and hence HFE value is not perceived. These examples
show that there is an implicit need for the value of HFE (performance and
well-being), but not an awareness and explicit demand for the HFE discipline and
profession. Hence, there is limited recognition and appreciation of how HFE can
contribute to healthy, safe, comfortable and efficient work and product/service
systems.
Although the role of HFE in enhancing well-being can be a strong value
proposition for some stakeholder groups, i.e. system actors and system influencers,
this may not be sufficient for other stakeholder groups, in particular, systems experts
and system decision makers who primarily focus on the performance value of
HFE. In many sectors, the provided value by the HFE community (in research and
practice) focuses on well-being, and HFE specialists then have stronger
relationships with the stakeholder group of system actors (that appreciate this
goal) than with the stakeholder groups of systems experts and system decision
makers (that are strongly interested in the performance outcome). In addition, the
relationships of the HFE community with certain system influencers (e.g.
governments) often focus on well-being rather than on performance. For example,
the IEA has stronger formal relationships with international organisations that
focus primarily (though not solely) on well-being, e.g. International Labour
Organisation (ILO), International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA), and
the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) than with organisa-
tions that focus primarily (though not solely) on performance (e.g. organisations
representing industrial engineers, product designers, or managers). There may well
be a similar imbalance for many local HFE societies and many individual HFE
specialists.
As a result, the HFE community has a less developed value proposition and
weaker relationships with dominant stakeholders (Mitchell et al. 1997) who have
considerable power to influence system design, in particular organisations
representing system experts (such as design organisations), and organisations
representing system decision makers (such as management organisations). The HFE
community has a more developed value proposition and stronger relationships
with dependent stakeholders such as the group of system actors who are less able to
influence system design, but have strong interest in its outcome. In conclusion, the
stakeholder group of system actors primarily needs and benefits from the well-being
value of HFE, and this has created an explicit demand for HFE from this group.
The stakeholder groups of system experts and system decision makers primarily
need the performance value of HFE. However, they do not always get this value
and are generally not aware that HFE can provide this value, even though they
have an implicit need for it. As a result, there is limited explicit demand for HFE
from this group. Because this group of system experts and system decision makers
is more powerful in the design process than the first group (system actors), the
Ergonomics 15
HFE community should strengthen its value proposition (with a focus on
performance outcomes), and its communication and relationships with these
stakeholder groups, as well as with the system influencers. This will help to increase
demand for high-quality HFE (well-being and performance outcomes) and therefore
increase HFE contributions to system design, resulting in more high-quality HFE
applications
6
.
5. Strategy for the future
In Section 1, we stated that the potential of HFE is under-exploited. In Section 2, we
showed that HFE has three fundamental characteristics (systems approach, design
driven, joint performance and well-being outcomes) and that this combination is
unique in comparison to other disciplines. The developments described in Section 3
indicate that systems are changing and will continue to change in the future, and that
HFE can help to design systems that fit people so that well-being and performance
outcomes are achieved in future systems. In Section 4, we found that HFE currently
serves the main stakeholder group of system actors relatively well (with well-being
outcomes), but that it needs to better serve the main other stakeholder groups
(system experts, system decision makers) with high-quality HFE. These stakeholder
groups are more influential in system design than system actors and have a strong
interest in performance. At the same, they may have only a limited view about what
HFE could offer. Therefore, HFE should expand its reach to system experts and
system decision makers, with greater emphasis on the performance goal, and on the
diversity of application areas.
Therefore, we propose the following main strategy for the future of HFE:
To strengthen the demand for and the application of high-quality HFE (with the key
elements of systems approach, design driven, and performance and well-being
outcomes) for all stakeholders, in particular:
(1) Strengthening the demand for high-quality HFE by enhancing the awareness
of stakeholders’ need for high-quality HFE (in particular, for system experts
and system decision makers, emphasising performance) by:
(a) Communicating with specific stakeholders about the value of high-quality
HFE in the language of the stakeholder.
(b) Building partnerships with these stakeholders and their representing
organisations.
(c) Educating stakeholders to raise awareness of high-quality HFE and its
contributions to system design.
(2) Strengthening the application of high-quality HFE by:
(a) Promoting the education of HFE specialists to apply high-quality HFE.
(b) Ensuring high quality standards of HFE applications and HFE specialists.
(c) Promoting HFE research excellence at universities and other
organisations.
These two strategic elements are interrelated. Higher demand for high-quality HFE
can lead to more high-quality HFE provided (‘pull’), and more availability of high
quality HFE can stimulate demand for high-quality HFE (‘push’). Figure 2 depicts the
‘HFE demand development cycle’ representing the main strategy. The cycle applies
16 J. Dul et al.
to a given stakeholder group (system actors, system specialists, system decision makers,
or system influencers) and combines three strategic elements:
(1) A stakeholder’s demand for high-quality HFE, which can stimulate
(2) the application of high-quality HFE (with the three key characteristics),
which can
(3) raise the stakeholder’s awareness of the need for high-quality HFE, which
may
(4) increase the stakeholder’s demand for high-quality HFE.
The HFE community can take an active role in boosting this cycle by focusing on
both the pull and push approaches. It can enhance the stakeholders’ awareness of
their need for high quality HFE. This can be done by communicating with
stakeholders, by building partnerships with stakeholders, and by educating
stakeholders (Karwowski 2007). This requires that HFE specialists can translate
and integrate HFE objectives into stakeholders’ strategies, policies and actions (Dul
and Neumann 2009). As a result, there should be an increased demand for
high-quality HFE. The HFE community can also enhance high-quality HFE
applications. This can be done by educating high-quality HFE specialists, by ensuring
high quality HFE applications and specialists, and by encouraging HFE research
excellence at universities and other organisations (Buckle 2011). By reflecting on
success stories (successful applications of high-quality HFE) and the related
Figure 2. HFE demand development cycle.
Ergonomics 17
challenges, HFE knowledge and professional practice can be further enhanced.
Hence, the HFE community is the main actor in this proposed strategic change. It
can operate at three levels: global HFE society (IEA), local societies (national and
regional HFE societies, e.g. IEA Federated Societies and IEA networks) and
individual (HFE researchers, HFE teachers/trainers, HFE consultants, HFE
policymakers).
6. Strategy implementation
The proposed main strategic direction is ‘to strengthen the demand for and the
application of high-quality HFE’. Adopting this main strategy has important
consequences for the policies and practices of HFE societies and individuals, taken
into account local differences and priorities.
The implementation of the strategy is an essential but complex endeavour that
needs further development. We only touch upon two aspects: (1) developing an
action plan by translating the strategy into actionable tasks, and (2) managing the
development and implementation of the action plan.
In Section 6.1 (and the Appendix), we provide examples of possible strategic
actions. We acknowledge that these strategic actions and their approach are not
comprehensive, and need to be extended and addressed in detail. In Section 6.2, we
propose a leadership role for the IEA to manage the development and
implementation of the action plan.
6.1. Examples of strategic actions
Below, we give examples of actions that can be taken to realise the two main
directions of the proposed strategy. Additional examples are provided in the
Appendix. Ultimately, these strategic actions need to be translated into specific and
effective actions by appropriate groups in the HFE community. In order to be
successful, these actions must be ‘smart’: specific (e.g. specifying who, what, when,
where, which, why), measurable (e.g. answering questions such as how much, how
long), attainable (it must be possible to do them), realistic (people must be willing
and able to work on them), and timely (e.g. setting time horizons for strategic actions
such as 1, 2, 5 and even 10 years).
Strengthening the demand for high-quality HFE by enhancing stakeholders’
awareness of the need for high-quality HFE:
.Communicating with dominant stakeholders (system experts, system decision
makers), by emphasising the performance goal and the other key character-
istics of HFE in their language (e.g. quantification of outcomes, cost-benefit
analysis). Increasing these stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of what
high-quality HFE is by providing examples and success stories of high-quality
HFE, but also examples of the negative effects resulting from the absence of
high-quality HFE, and through recognition, awards and prizes for high quality
HFE.
.Building strategic partnerships, in particular with system experts (e.g.
professionals from the technical and social sciences), system decision makers
(e.g. managers and other decision makers), and system influencers (e.g. local,
18 J. Dul et al.
national, and international governments and industry bodies, the general
public (e.g. the media)). Long-term partnerships should ensure sustained
improvements in both performance and well-being.
.Educating (future) stakeholders by showing the value of HFE at all
educational levels and settings, from education at primary schools to education
at institutes for professional education and universities, (e.g. engineering,
design, business) as well as education beyond school systems. Because it is
impossible that HFE specialists be present in all system designs, educating
(future) system experts about the principles of HFE is necessary so that they
can apply basic HFE principles in their design without the involvement of an
HFE specialist, and can identify when there is a need to call in a HFE specialist
for high-quality applications.
Strengthening the application of high-quality HFE:
.Promoting the education of high-quality HFE by formulating standards for
high-quality HFE and for qualified HFE specialists (always paying attention
to the three key characteristics: systems approach, design driven, performance
and well-being) and by ensuring that education and training organisations
adhere to these standards. Attracting students and experts from a wide range
of disciplines to become HFE specialists in all three key characteristics.
Applying high-quality HFE cannot be achieved by mechanically using a
toolkit. Life-long education of HFE specialists (including insight from other
fields such as industrial engineering, interaction design, cognitive psychology,
human-movement studies, organisational behaviour, operations management,
etc.) is essential to guarantee their competence to deliver high-quality HFE
applications. For example, HFE specialists from human or health-related
disciplines who may primarily focus on well-being outcomes of system design
may need more education on performance outcomes and on building
relationships with influential stakeholders such as system decision makers.
.Ensuring high quality standards of HFE applications and HFE specialists by
promoting high-quality HFE in all activities of HFE societies and HFE
individuals, and by ensuring the implementation of high-quality HFE
standards by accreditation and certification bodies.
.Promoting HFE research excellence at universities and other organisations by
promoting research and publications on high-quality HFE.
6.2. Leadership role of the IEA
We propose a leadership role for the IEA to manage the development and
implementation of this strategy.
The IEA could act as a strategic leader in this process in several ways:
.By developing a global action plan to implement the strategy, with global
consensus.
.By encouraging IEA federated societies and networks to set up their own
action plans, each taking into account their specific context. The IEA should
monitor and evaluate the development and implementation of these action
plans and share lessons learned.
Ergonomics 19
.By developing a plan of action at international level, targeting appropriate
international institutions and organisations.
Different HFE groups and main stakeholder groups should be involved in this
process so that the implementation plan fits specific needs and possibilities. IEA
federated societies and networks should be the main contributors to this strategic
action. Only they know the specificities of their national or regional context, the
challenges they face, the opportunities they may exploit, and the people and
organisations that may help them. IEA networks could play an important role as
intermediate actors. The first objective of IEA federated societies and networks
should then be to define a locally relevant plan of action to be developed with their
members and shared at IEA level.
Such a global effort can work only if individual members of the federated
societies understand it. In this perspective, it might be useful to have this text
translated in the national language of the societies where English is not commonly
used.
Furthermore, other HFE organisations should also be involved. Certification
bodies should be encouraged to examine their criteria for certification and to check
whether these criteria are in agreement with the fundamental characteristics of
high-quality HFE described in this paper. Professional organisations of HFE
specialists that are not part of the IEA should also be approached to ensure shared
views on the nature of HFE and its high quality delivery.
Finally, the major stakeholders must be involved because the strategy focuses
on showing and delivering value to them. It is then crucial to understand the views of
stakeholders on HFE and its benefits, and how HFE specialists can be their
partners in system design.
Over the next decade, the design and implementation of this plan will be the main
objective and a major activity of the IEA Executive Committee and the IEA Council,
as well as of the local HFE societies. Successful implementation of the strategy in
the long term, spearheaded by the IEA, is only possible if the IEA sets appropriate
conditions such as continuity of governance, effective mobilisation of federated
societies, and sufficient resources. This might require serious reconsideration of the
current IEA organisation.
7. Concluding remarks
This paper offers the HFE community a strategic direction for the future of the HFE
discipline and profession that could lead to the development of new strategies,
tactics and operations within specific local contexts. Developing and implementing a
strategic action plan for the HFE discipline and profession at large requires a long
lasting and joint effort of the entire HFE community. The result will be rewarding.
The external community will recognise the HFE discipline and profession as a crucial
partner for successful systems design.
Acknowledgements
We would like to thank many human factors/ergonomics specialists who have provided their
personal input to the work of the committee and/or who commented on earlier versions of this
paper: F. Javier Llaneza Alvarez, ArcelorMittal, Spain; Alexey Anokhin, National Research
Nuclear University ‘MEPhI’, Russia; Tomas Berns, Ergolab AB, Sweden; Verna Blewett,
20 J. Dul et al.
University of South Australia, Australia; Guy Andre
´Boy, Florida Institute of Technology,
USA; Bob Bridger, INM, UK; Ole Broberg, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark;
Alexander Burov, Institute of Gifted Child, Ukraine; David C. Caple, David Caple &
Associates, Australia; Alan Chan, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; Wen-Ruey
Chang, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, USA; Pierre-Henri Dejean, University
of Technology of Compie
`gne, France; Mica Endsley, SA Technologies, USA; Patricia
Ferrara, Technoserve Inc., Mozambique; Margo Fraser, Association of Canadian Ergono-
mists, Canada; Yushi Fujita, Research Department, Japan; Somnath Gangopadhyay,
University of Calcutta, India; Sylva Gilbertova, SAZ, Czech Republic; Matthias Go
¨bel,
Rhodes University, South Africa; Jose
´Orlando Gomes, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil; Richard Goossens, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands; Alan Hedge,
Cornell University, USA; Martin Helander, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore;
Magne Helland, Buskerud University College, Norway; Veerle Hermans, IDEWE and Vrije
Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; Franc¸ois Hubault, Universite
´Paris 1, France; Sheue-Ling
Hwang, National Tsing-Hua University, Taiwan; Andrew S. Imada, A. S. Imada &
Associates, USA; Christina Jonsson, Swedish Work Environment Authority, Sweden;
Halimahtun Khalid, Damai Sciences Sdn Bhd, Malaysia; Jung-Yong Kim, Hanyang
University, South Korea; Karsten Kluth, University of Siegen, Germany; Kazutaka Kogi,
Institute for Science of Labour, Japan; Ernst Koningsveld, TNO, The Netherlands; Rabiya
Lallani, Human Factors North Inc., Canada; Johan Molenbroek, Delft University of
Technology, the Netherlands; Karen Lange Morales, National University of Colombia,
Colombia; John Lee, University of Wisconsin, USA; Jean-Luc Malo, Vincent Ergonomie,
Canada; Nicolas Marmaras, National Technical University of Athens, Greece; Svend Erik
Mathiassen, University of Ga
¨vle, Sweden; Dave Moore, SCION Research, New Zealand;
Dimitris Nathanael, National Technical University of Athens, Greece; Patrick Neumann,
Ryerson University, Canada; Ian Noy, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, USA;
Clas-Hakan Nygard, Tampere University, Finland; Enrico Occhipinti, University of Milan,
Italy; Ahmet F. }
Ozok, Istanbul Ku
¨ltu
¨r University, Turkey; Gunther Paul, University of South
Australia, Australia; Ruud Pikaar, Ergos Engineering & Ergonomics, the Netherlands; Anna
Ptackova, Skoda, Czech Republic; David Rempel, University of California, USA; Luz
Mercedes Saenz, University Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia; Martha Helena Saravia,
Pontifical University Javeriana, Colombia; Christopher Schlick, Aachen University, Germany;
Schu Schutte, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa; Patricia Scott,
Rhodes University, South Africa; Paul Settels, ING, the Netherlands; Barbara Silverstein,
SHARP - Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, USA; Marcelo Soares,
Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil; Cla
´udia Stamato, PUC-Rio - Pontifical Catholic
University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Carol Stuart-Buttle, Stuart-Buttle Ergonomics, USA;
Andrew Thatcher, University of Witwaterstrand, South Africa; Andrew Todd, Rhodes
University, South Africa; Takashi Toriizuka, Nihon University, Japan; John Walter,
Technoserve Inc., Mozambique; Eric Min-Yang Wang, National Tsing Hua University,
Taiwan; Christine Waring, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Australia; Klaus J. Zink, University of
Kaiserslautern, Germany; Moustafa Zouinar, Orange labs – France telecom, France; Gert
Zu
¨lch, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.
Furthermore, input was received from a group of 17 PhD candidates and professors of
the Conservatoire National des Arts et Me
´tiers (CNAM), Paris, France. Roger Haslam
(editor of Ergonomics) and three anonymous reviewers are thanked for their comments.
Financial support for this project was provided by the International Ergonomics Association
(IEA).
Notes
1. In the present paper, we consider ‘ergonomics’ and ‘human factors’ to be synonymous,
and we adopt the IEA definition of the discipline (IEA 2000): ‘Ergonomics (or human
factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions
among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theoretical
principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human well-being and
overall system performance.’ To identify the discipline throughout this paper, we have
selected the name ‘human factors/ergonomics’ (HFE). By accepting this definition, we also
accept the view that HFE is a scientific discipline and not only a (multidisciplinary)
Ergonomics 21
approach to problem solving. We also accept that this definition reflects a more positivist
rather than a more constructivist view on the discipline.
2. The committee consists of Jan Dul (Chair, Netherlands), Ralph Bruder (Germany), Peter
Buckle (UK), Pascale Carayon (USA), Pierre Falzon (France), William S. Marras
(USA), John R. Wilson (UK), and Bas van der Doelen (Secretary, Netherlands).
3. HFE focuses primarily on two types of systems: work systems (with workers in private or
public organisations) and products (consumer or business goods or services). Tradition-
ally ‘work’ is a central issue in HFE, as indicated by the etymology of the word
ergonomics (ergo ¼work). However, HFE is concerned with all kinds of activities that go
beyond (paid) work and includes activities carried out by a range of users, e.g. customers,
citizens, patients, etc. with different characteristics (e.g. age), in a range of domestic,
leisure, sport, transport and other environments. When we use the words ‘work system’ it
includes other living systems.
4. Other contributors are the effort taken by the human independently of the environment,
as well as contributions from other components of the system.
5. In this paper, we do not use the term ‘optimisation’ in its mathematical meaning of finding
a best available value for a given objective function. Instead, optimisation refers to
finding design solutions to maximise both well-being and performance, which may require
making trade-offs between both objectives.
6. By high-quality HFE we mean that the three core elements of HFE: systems approach,
design driven and performance and well-being outcomes, are taken into consideration
when defining problems and formulating solutions. Without these key elements, the HFE
approach is limited. High-quality HFE includes approaches with a focus on specific
aspects of people (e.g. physical), on specific aspects of the environment (e.g. technical), on
specific outcomes (e.g. well-being), or with limited links to design, as long as limitations
of the specific approach and how to tackle these are addressed (‘contextualisation’).
This can be done, for example, by collaborating with other specialists, planning broader
approaches at later stages, or acknowledging the limitations of problem definitions and
solutions. Specific approaches may occur e.g. when the HFE specialist can have only a
limited role in the design process, or when there are practical or other restrictions for a
broader scope (e.g. only simple solutions are feasible), for instance, in economically
developing countries (Kogi 2007). As a strategic direction, high-quality HFE approaches
are preferred over limited approaches as the combination of core elements of HFE is a
unique value proposition for all stakeholders.
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24 J. Dul et al.
Appendix. Examples of strategic actions by the HFE community to realise the main strategy.
Strengthening the demand for high-quality HFE Strengthening the application of high-quality HFE
Communicating with
specific stakeholders
about the value of
high-quality HFE in the
language of the
stakeholder
Building strong
partnerships with
specific stakeholders
and their representing
organisations
Educating
stakeholders to create
awareness of
high-quality HFE and its
contributions to system
design
Promoting the
education of HFE
specialists to apply
high-quality HFE
Ensuring high quality
standards of HFE
applications and HFE
specialists
Promoting HFE
research excellence at
universities and other
organisations
IEA: At
International
level
HFE Societies:
At national/
regional
level
Identify specific
stakeholders from the
dominant stakeholder
groups that need to be
targeted.
Identify the specific
needs of these
stakeholders.
Formulate the value
of HFE for these
stakeholders in
their language.
Develop show cases
from high-quality
HFE applications
that give insight to
these stakeholders.
Acknowledge (e.g.
awards) HFE-
enlightened
stakeholders that
have good
examples of HFE.
Identify opinion
leaders from the
stakeholder group
Identify organisations
that represent specific
stakeholders from the
dominant stakeholder
groups that are
interested in the value
of HFE and in
partnerships with
HFE.
Develop partnerships
with interested
organisations (e.g.
regarding joint
development of
show cases, joint
awards, sharing
networks, joint
communication
activities, mutual
access to
conferences, etc.).
Identify education and
training organisations
of the dominant
stakeholder groups.
Identify links between
HFE and the
(learning) goals of
these stakeholders.
Include HFE in the
education/training
programmes of
these stakeholders.
Formulate general
standards for high-
quality HFE.
Formulate general
standards for
qualified HFE
specialists.
Ensure that
education and
training
organisations
adhere to these
standards.
Promote high-quality
HFE in all activities of
IEA and HFE
societies.
Ensure the
implementation of
the general
standards for high-
quality HFE and
qualified HFE
specialists by
accreditation and
certification bodies.
Promote research on
high-quality HFE (e.g.
stimulate HFE-related
journals to have review
criteria based on the
three key
characteristics of high-
quality HFE).
Promote publicly
funded research
programmes on
high-quality HFE.
Promote research co-
operation and
communication
among HFE
researchers (and
researchers from
other disciplines).
Promote discussions
with universities
about dedicated
academic
departments for
HFE.
(continued)
Ergonomics 25
Appendix. (Continued).
Strengthening the demand for high-quality HFE Strengthening the application of high-quality HFE
Communicating with
specific stakeholders
about the value of
high-quality HFE in the
language of the
stakeholder
Building strong
partnerships with
specific stakeholders
and their representing
organisations
Educating
stakeholders to create
awareness of
high-quality HFE and its
contributions to system
design
Promoting the
education of HFE
specialists to apply
high-quality HFE
Ensuring high quality
standards of HFE
applications and HFE
specialists
Promoting HFE
research excellence at
universities and other
organisations
who support high
quality HFE.
Deliver the HFE
message repeatedly
and through a
variety of
communication
channels.
HFE Individuals Identify specific
stakeholders
(individuals)
from the
dominant
stakeholder
groups that need
to be targeted.
Identify the specific
needs of these
stakeholders
(individuals).
Formulate the value
of HFE for these
stakeholders in
their language
(individuals).
Develop show cases
from high-quality
Identify individuals from
dominant stakeholder
groups that are
interested in the value
of HFE and in
partnerships with
HFE.
Develop partnerships
with interested
individuals (e.g.
joint activities,
access to each
other’s networks
and conferences,
joint
communication,
etc.).
Identify individual
teachers/trainers of
dominant
stakeholders.
Identify links between
HFE and the
principles and
(learning) goals of
the education of
these stakeholders.
Include HFE in the
education/training
programmes of
these stakeholders.
Obtain and maintain the
qualifications for high-
quality HFE specialists
through continuous
education and
training.
Ensure that high-quality
HFE is part of all
individual HFE
activities (paying
attention to the three
key characteristics of
high-quality HFE) in:
HFE research and
publications
(HFE researchers)
HFE teaching and
training (HFE
teachers/trainers)
HFE practice (HFE
consultants)
HFE policy (HFE
policymakers)
Perform and publish
research on high-
quality HFE.
Stimulate publicly-
funded research
programmes on the
high-quality HFE.
Collaborate with
researchers from
other disciplines
regarding system
design and
performance
outcomes.
Develop better
tools to
evaluate high-
quality HFE
interventions
(continued)
26 J. Dul et al.
Appendix. (Continued).
Strengthening the demand for high-quality HFE Strengthening the application of high-quality HFE
Communicating with
specific stakeholders
about the value of
high-quality HFE in the
language of the
stakeholder
Building strong
partnerships with
specific stakeholders
and their representing
organisations
Educating
stakeholders to create
awareness of
high-quality HFE and its
contributions to system
design
Promoting the
education of HFE
specialists to apply
high-quality HFE
Ensuring high quality
standards of HFE
applications and HFE
specialists
Promoting HFE
research excellence at
universities and other
organisations
HFE applications
that give insight to
these stakeholders
(individuals).
Acknowledge HFE-
enlightened
stakeholders
(individuals) that
have good
examples of HFE.
Identify opinion
leaders from the
stakeholder group
who are supporters
of high quality
HFE.
Deliver the HFE
message repeatedly
and through a
variety of
communication
channels.
Present high-quality
HFE research
papers at
conferences of
related disciplines.
Ergonomics 27
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As a consequence of an increasing complexity of products using procedures a human-centered-design process is more and more important. This thesis can be based on the success of user friendly products on market but also by looking at new regulations concerning human-centered design (e.g. pr EN-ISO 13407). Within an user-centered design process there is a need for a continuos balancing between interests of users and producers. This mediating role can be fulfilled by persons with an ergonomic background. The potentiality of ergonomic for the initialization, accompaniment and evaluation of an user-centered design process was demonstrated within the product development of a new electronic pipette.
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Nature is the international weekly journal of science: a magazine style journal that publishes full-length research papers in all disciplines of science, as well as News and Views, reviews, news, features, commentaries, web focuses and more, covering all branches of science and how science impacts upon all aspects of society and life.
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