Work Domain Analysis

Concepts, Guidelines, and Cases

By Neelam Naikar

© 2013 – CRC Press

338 pages | 115 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780805861297
pub: 2013-05-07
US Dollars$94.95

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

In complex sociotechnical systems such as military, health care, and nuclear power systems, poor performance or errors resulting from inadequate designs can have catastrophic consequences. Although considered challenging to learn and execute well, work domain analysis can be used as a framework to assist in the design of these systems. Work Domain Analysis: Concepts, Guidelines, and Cases helps you develop a deep understanding of this framework—not by oversimplifying the principles but by explaining its concepts and methodology in considerable depth.

Building on the foundational concepts of cognitive work analysis by providing the first comprehensive treatment of work domain analysis, the book begins withfundamental topics such as abstraction, decomposition, and structural means-ends and part-whole relations, clearly outlining the basic characteristics of a work domain model. It then explores more advanced topics such as the development of multiple models of a system and the distinction between causal and intentional systems and illustrates them with numerous examples across a range of systems including warships, libraries, and petrochemical plants. It also provides comprehensive guidelines for performing work domain analysis.

The author provides three detailed case studies that examine the impact, unique contribution, and feasibility of applying work domain analysis in industrial settings. These case studies demonstrate that work domain analysis can be used to address a range of problems beyond interface design, such as team design, training, and the evaluation of system design concepts. They also provide concrete illustrations of the guidelines for work domain analysis.

Without an appreciation of the variety of applications of work domain analysis, and its suitability for implementation in industrial settings, the benefits of this approach may not be fully realized. This book supplies the deep knowledge of this tool that will lead both to more powerful and innovative applications of the approach and to designs that support flexibility or adaptation in the workplace, making systems safer, healthier, and more productive for workers.


"… this eagerly awaited book from Neelam Naikar does not disappoint. It continues with the theme of her previous published material in adding valuable explanation of the works of Rasmussen and Vicente, along with insightful expansions. … should be considered essential reading for anyone serious about applying cognitive work analysis for the first time, as well as an excellent resource for those more familiar with the technique to verify and validate their interpretations of cognitive work analysis."

--Daniel P. Jenkins, Research Lead, DCA Design International, Warwick, UK

Table of Contents

Section I Introduction

Cognitive Work Analysis

Work Analysis

What Is Cognitive Work Analysis?

Order of the Five Dimensions

What Is Unique about Cognitive Work Analysis?

Designing for Adaptation


Work Domain Analysis

What Is Work Domain Analysis?

Why Are Models of the Work Domain Useful?

The Abstraction–Decomposition Space

Causal versus Intentional Systems

Formats for Work Domain Models


Section II Concepts


Number, Types, and Labels of Levels of Abstraction

Descriptions of Levels of Abstraction



Number, Types, and Labels of Levels of Decomposition

What to Decompose?

Why Decompose?


Structural Means–Ends, Part–Whole, and Topological Relations

Types of Relations

Structural Means–Ends Relations

Part–Whole Relations

Topological Relations


Multiple Models


Multiple Stakeholders’ Perspectives

Multiple Problem Facets

Multiple Models and Decomposition


Activity: Whether or Not to Model?

Can Activity Be Included in a Work Domain Model?

Should Nouns or Verbs Be Used in a Work Domain Model?

Can Control Systems Be Included in a Work Domain Model?

Is There an Overlap between Work Domain Analysis and Control

Task Analysis?


Section III Guidelines

Analytic Themes for Work Domain Analysis


Theme 1: What Is the Purpose of the Analysis?

Theme 2: What Are the Project Restrictions?

Theme 3: What Are the Boundaries of the Analysis?

Theme 4: Is It Useful to Develop Multiple Models?

Theme 5: Where on the Causal–Intentional Continuum Does the Focus

System Fall?

Theme 6: What Are the Sources of Information for the Analysis?

Theme 7: What Is the Content of the Abstraction–Decomposition Space?

Theme 8: Is the Abstraction–Decomposition Space a Valid Model of the

Focus System?


Section IV Cases

Evaluation of Design Concepts



Case Study


Team Design



Case Study





Case Study



Section V Appendix

The Remaining Dimensions of Cognitive Work Analysis



About the Originator

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety