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Ergonomics in design processes: The journey from ergonomist toward workspace designer

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Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing & Service Industries

Published online on


The aim of this article is to study the learning processes that take place in an interactive research project, which involved university researchers as well as ergonomic practitioners. The project simultaneously developed and tested a new framework—designated Workspace Design—for intervention in workplace design processes in companies. The basic idea in Workspace Design was that ergonomists should take a new role and apply new participatory methods when involved as consultants. The course of the project was evaluated by the application of social learning theory. The goal was to find out if and why the ergonomic practitioners had learned to practice the new concept by themselves. The results confirm that learning to some extent took place with help from two different mechanisms: learning by interacting and learning by practicing. Three factors are of crucial importance to the successful transfer of a new framework to ergonomic practitioners: 1) the practitioners must take part in developing and testing the framework and the subsequent interpretation of results, 2) they must have the opportunity to practice the framework in the daily consultancy setting and then reflect on their experiences, and 3) their consultancy organization must be committed to adopt the new framework. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.