In the early years of its development, the science of ergonomics borrowed much of its way of looking at things from two closely related disciplines called cybernetics (Wiener, 1954, 1961) and general systems theory (von Bertalanffy, 1968). In most respects, we could regard these two disciplines as one area of study with two different names. The exponents of these disciplines were principally concerned with the control mechanisms which govern the behaviour of complex dynamic systems. They very often sought to draw analogies between the complex systems designed by engineers and self-organizing systems such as living organisms. The ergonomic approach to work design is sometimes characterized as systems-orientated.
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