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Avenues of entry: how industrial engineers and ergonomists access and influence human factors and ergonomics issues

Published Online:pp 325-348https://doi.org/10.1504/EJIE.2014.060999

This study compares how Canadian industrial engineers (IEs) and ergonomists ‘position themselves’ to influence human factors and ergonomics (HFE) issues. The study examined how these stakeholders perceived their influence on HFE issues, constraints they operated under, and strategies used. The results contribute to an understanding of decisions and processes surrounding HFE practices, showing that organisational entry points and stakeholder expectations on IEs and ergonomists affect their influence on HFE issues. Ergonomists influenced HFE issues by leveraging their knowledge of other stakeholders’ priorities, and were more dependent on accessing the issue via a ‘problem owner’. IEs were often entrusted with greater freedom to act on improvements. Expressing HFE improvements in terms of business benefits was a successful strategy for both. It was found that ergonomists operated as ‘partial solution builders’, trying to influence the HFE issue as an expert, lobbyist or facilitator. Based on the results, an existing framework was modified.

Keywords

human factors, ergonomics, occupational health, organisational politics, industrial engineering, influence, stakeholders, qualitative research, macroergonomics, goal hooking

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