The research mission of the MAS department is to improve our understanding of how decision-making, change and coordination of and within sociotechnical systems, happens. We do this with the goal of designing systems interventions grounded in justice across multiple values inherent to modern societies and to provide actors within these systems with sufficient perspective to act. In doing so, we describe systems and processes empirically, we model them (analytically and computationally), analyse them, and design interventions for them using a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches.
The central premise of our research is that the design and management of system change is subject to continuous tensions. This tension stems from several hallmarks of modern society:
- Grand societal challenges inexorably push and pull systems to change and adapt;
- There is a variety of players, often with conflicting interests, who are almost all interdependent;
- Sociotechnical systems have no clear boundaries, and different actors will define the system in various ways, depending on their perspectives;
- There is great uncertainty and an abundance of ambiguous information on the performance of both systems and actors;
- Actors have or develop conflicting perceptions concerning the system itself, its performance and governance requirements.
Changes that affect these systems are increasingly fast-paced and dynamic, with disruptions affecting governance and complicating decision-making, requiring novel coordination and governance solutions.