The relationship of a workplace with its computer tools as psychological phenomenon: a case study in the automotive industry
Poster presentation on PhD Day
12:30 PM, Monday 28 Aug 2017 (1 hour)
How is the activity of a workplace affected by the computer tools ? Beyond their technical impacts, our hypothesis is that the latter are part of the profession’s language processes. We are proposing a case study in the automotive industry. A group of professionals complains of too complex curves produced by an information system. However, they are the ones who prescribed the calculation. They express the need for a simple calculation but they build it complex for it to be "realistic" - which leads them to make it complicated. The analysis of this paradox leads us to discuss the instrumental approach developed from the work of Vygotsky, by Pierre Rabardel. We come back on the unification suggested by Rabardel, between technical and psychological instrument in his theory of instrumental genesis. According to us, this proposal is likely to hide the nature of the problem of our paradox. Paraphrasing the views of Vygotsky on the relationship between thought and language, the problem is how to think the relation between thought and psychological instrument and consider both processes as two independent processes of which the external meeting is a source of instrumental activity. We resume the view of Vygotsky that differentiates technical and psychological instrument. We show in this example that the IT tools affect the activity of the professional environment by links we could describe as internal to the instrumental act. The nature of these links is in our view what fundamentally separates technical phenomenon and psychological phenomenon.