Conference article

Sciences of the Artificial; Artifacts and Quality Sciences

Clas Mellby
Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg

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Published in: 10th QMOD Conference. Quality Management and Organiqatinal Development. Our Dreams of Excellence; 18-20 June; 2007 in Helsingborg; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 26:18, p.

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Published: 2008-02-15


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


In our efforts to achieve the good society it may be fair to say that we still need a lot of improvements to do before the vision is present. Of course we have a lot of things as hospitals; cars; mobile phones; electricity etc that makes our lives easier but still many people suffer and we have environmental problems caused by the very same technology as well.

In a similar way there have been a lot of interventions in developmental programs at macro; meso as well as micro levels. Most change initiatives where directed by welleducated people and built upon lot of theories; models; tools and methods. They all had the ambition to improve but too often they where shortcoming. Sometimes; the initiatives even ended up with anxiety; unemployment; bankruptcy; depressions and even suicide.

If the purpose of academics is to contribute with knowledge to the progress of our society; we may ask if it is enough with the knowledge production stemming from the natural sciences and the humanities. With respect to the use of technology as well as the shortcoming change initiatives; we might need something else that (at least) could serve as a complement. We need a search for scientific innovations that increase the ability to support the progress of the good society by making technology better and change initiatives successful. Such search may not mean more theories and models. Sumantra Goshal indicated in the title “Bad Management Theories Are Destroying Good Management Practice” (2005) that we may need a practical science so academics can fulfill their mission to contribute with knowledge to the progress of civilization. Such science might be described as a science for the art and practice of value creation for the good and sustainable society. Then we can state that we need a scientific innovation that could help us to design the good and sustainable society.

The purpose of this paper is therefor to introduce the reader to the Sciences of the Artificial (SA) and relate it to Quality Sciences (QS) as a possible component in a “design” in the same way as “explanation” for Natural Sciences (NS) and “interpretation” for Humanities (H).

SA is a science for artifacts; which “stands for all forms of humanly designed; socially objectified[/objectifiable] vehicles of functional meaning” (Beckman (2002; p.45); which is a definition I will use in my work. Artifacts are exemplified by Dahlbom (2002; p.9): “Theories; ideologies; paintings; songs; gardens; cities; families; professions; persons; languages; social organizations; cultures; tools; machine systems; and nations; are all artifacts”. Due to the interest of the quality of products and services; SA might be of interest for TQM. As a complement to the NS and the H; SA might broaden the field of QS and contribute to a design orientation.


Artifact; design; innovation; practice; science


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