Nottingham University Business School
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David Wastell, Emeritus Professor

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BSc (Durham), PhD (Durham)
Emeritus Professor (Operations Management and Information Systems)

E-mail: David.Wastell@nottingham.ac.uk

David Wastell began his academic career as a cognitive neuroscientist at Durham University, studying the relationships between brain activity and psychological processes. Following his PhD, he moved to the MRC Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge in 1978, where he undertook research on stress and technological innovation in collaboration with British Telecom. His interests in technology and work developed during an extended period at Manchester University before being appointed Professor of the Information Society at Salford University in 2000. Subsequently he moved to UMIST, before transferring to Nottingham in 2005.

Areas of Expertise
Neuroscience and social policy: critical perspectives; psychophysiological design of complex human-machine systems; Information systems and public sector reform; design and innovation in the public services; management as design; human factors design of safe systems in child protection.

I began my career as a neuroscientist, studying the relationships between brain activity and cognitive processes, such as attention. An interest in psychophysiological methods has been continuing theme of my work, especially their application in the design of complex systems. Most recently, I have become concerned about the misuse of neuroscience in contemporary child welfare policy.

Although they seem rather disparate, my various research interests are united around a general theme, namely the design of the organization as a sociotechnical system. There are two complementary strands to this. My primary focus is design and innovation in the public services, originally in health-care but more recently local government, social care in particular. My recently published book "Managers as designers in the public services: beyond technomagic" summarizes this work, including implications for policy making at the national level. Much of my public sector research follows an action research approach, working with partner organizations on problems of mutual interest.

The main fruit of this first research theme has been methodological. In a long-standing collaboration with the City of Salford, I developed a framework for service re-design (SPRINT) to underpin the CityAs transformation strategy in the early days of New Labour. Reflecting growing external interest, a formal SPRINT training and accreditation system has been developed, and a User Group was set up in 2004 which now has over 1200 individual members representing over 150 different local authorities. The User Group held its first national conference in Nottingham in January 2006, followed by annual conferences ever since.

Cognitive ergonomics forms the second strand. I continue to pursue my long-standing interests in technologically intensive workplaces, looking in particular at the design of automated work environments. This research has made extensive use of computer-simulations (microworlds) as a means of investigating human-machine performance under controlled but realistic conditions. Initial work was supported by the European Space Agency and addressed the relationships between interface design, operator well-being and overall system performance. One of the main simulation tools used in this research is now in use in several laboratories in the US and Europe.

Older Publications

Older Publications

Journal Articles

Featherstone, B.; White, S.; Wastell, D. (2012), "Ireland's opportunity to learn from England's difficulties: Auditing uncertainty in child protection. Irish", Journal of Social Work, Vol.12, pp. 49-62.

Wastell, D.; White, S. (2012), "Blinded by Neuroscience Social Policy, the family and the Infant Brain", Families, Relationships and Societies, Vol.1 (3), pp. 399-416.

Pithouse, A.; Hall, C.; Wastell, D.; White, S. (2011), "No credit for child care social work: the (mis) management of contingency and discretion through new technologies of control", Journal of social work, doi:10.1177/1468017310382151.

Sauer, J.; Kao, C.S.; Wastell, D.; Nickel, P. (2011), "Explicit control of adaptive automation under different levels of environmental stress.", Ergonomics, Vol.54, pp. 755-766.

Wastell, D.; White, S. (2011), "Make kitsch the enemy: the 'monstrous carbuncle' of the UK's vetting and barring scheme.", IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, Vol.366, pp, 105-118.

Wastell, D.; White, S.; Broadhurst et, A. (2011), "Social Work in the Laboratory: Investigating the Utility of 'Microworld' Simulation", British Journal of Social Work, Vol.41 (4), pp. 744-760.

Broadhurst, K.; White, S.; Wastell, D. (2010), "Risk, instrumentalism and the humane project in social work - identifying the informal logic of risk management in children's statutory services", British Journal of Social Work, Vol.40, pp. 1046-64.

Wastell, D. (2010), "Managing as designing: "opportunity knocks" for the IS field?", European Journal of Information Systems, Vol.19 (4), pp. 422-431.

Wastell, D.; White, S. (2010), "Facts, myths and thought-styles. and a rallying cry for civic engagement", Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Vol.19 (4), pp. 307-318.

Wastell, D.; White, S.; Broadhurst, K. (2010), "Children's Services and the iron cage of performance management: street level bureacracy and the spectre of Svejkism", International Journal of Social Work, Vol.19 (3), pp. 310-320.

White, S.; Broadhurst, K.; Wastell, D.; Peckover, S.; Hall, C.; Pithouse, A. (2010), "Whither Practice-Near Research in the Modernization Programme? Policy Blunders in Children's Services'", Journal of Social Work Practice, Vol.23 (4), pp. 401-411.

White, S.; Wastell, D.; Broadhurst, K.; Hall, C. (2010), "When policy overleaps itself: the tragic tale of the Integrated Children's System", Critical Social Policy, Vol.30 3, pp.4405-429.

Broadhurst, K.; Wastell, D.; White, S. (2009), "Performing 'initial assessment': identifying the latent conditions for error at the front-door of local authority children's services", British Journal of Social Work, Vol.40, pp. 352-370.

Sauer, J.; Wastell, D.; Schmeink, C. (2009), "Designing for the home: a comparative study of support aids for central heating systems", Applied Ergonomics, Vol.40, pp.165-174.

Wastell, D.; McMaster, T. (2008), "Organisational Dynamics of Technology-based Innovation: Diversifying the Research Agenda", Journal of Information Technology, Vol.23, pp.63-70.

White, S.; Broadhurst, K.; Wastell, D. (2008), "Research on problems in child protection when IT and humans interact", Community Care, Vol.11/12/08, pp. 22-23.

Hockey, G.; Sauer, J.; Wastell, D. (2007), "Adaptability of Training in Simulated Process Control: Comparison of Knowledge- and Rule-based Guidance under Task Changes and Environmental Stress", Human Factors, Vol.49, pp. 158-174.

Sauer, J.; Schmeink, C.; Wastell, D. (2007), "Feedback Quality and Environmentally-Friendly Use of Domestic Central Heating Systems", Ergonomics, Vol.50, pp.795-813.

Wastell, D.; McMaster, T. (2007), "The Rise of the Phoenix: Methodological Innovation as a Discourse or Renewal", Journal of Information Technology, Vol.22, pp.59-68.

Wastell, D. (2006), "Information systems and evidence-based policy in multi-agency networks: the micro-politics of situated innovation", Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Vol.1, pp. 77-98.

Hackney, R.; Kim, S.; Wastell, D. (2005), "Editorial: E-Government and Organisational Change: Issues, Contexts and Problems", Information Systems Journal, Vol.15 (1), pp. 1-4, Online ISSN: 1365-2575.

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D. (2005), "Pursuing Radical Transformation in Information Age Government: Case Studies Using the SPRINT Methodology", Journal of Global Information Management, Vol.13, pp. 79-101.

McMaster, T.; Wastell, D. (2005), "The Agency of Hybrids: Overcoming the Symmetrophic Block", Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, Vol.17, pp. 175-182.

McMaster, T.; Wastell, D. (2005), "Diffusion or delusion? Challenging an IS research tradition", Information Technology and People, Vol.18 (4), pp. 383-404.

Wastell, D.; Kawalek, P.; Langmead-Jones, P.; Ormerod, R. (2004), "Information Systems and Partnership in Multi-Agency Networks: An Action Research Project on Crime Reduction", Information and Organization, Vol.14, pp. 189-210.

Hockey, G.; Healey, A.; Crawshaw, M.; Wastell, D.; Sauer, J. (2003), "Cognitive Demands of Navigation in Simulated Ship Control: Effects of Collision Threat and Uncertainty", Human Factors, Vol.45, pp. 252-265.

Sauer, J.; Wastell, D.; Hockey, G.; Earle, F. (2003), "Performance in a Complex Multiple-Task Environment: Effects of Occasional Night Work and Extended Task Involvement", Human Factors, Vol.45, pp. 657-669.

Sauer, J.; Wastell, D.; Hockey, G.; Crawshaw, M.; Downing, J. (2002), "Designing Micro-Worlds of Transportation Systems: The Computer-Aided Bridge Operation Task", Computers in Human Behavior, Vol.14 (2), pp. 169-183.

Sauer, J.; Wastell, D.; Hockey, G.; Crawshaw, M.; Ishak, M.; Downing, J. (2002), "Effects of Display Design on Performance in a Simulated Ship Navigation Environment", Ergonomics, Vol.45, pp. 329-347.

Shin, J.; Wastell, D. (2001), "User-Centered Methodological Framework for the Design of Hypermedia-based CALL Systems", CALICO Journal, Vol.18, pp. 517-538.

Wastell, D. (2001), "Barriers to effective knowledge management: action research meets grounded theory", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol.6, pp. 21-35.

Sauer, J.; Hockey, G.; Wastell, D. (2000), "Effects of Training on Short and Long Term Skill Retention in a Complex Multiple-Task Environment", Ergonomics, Vol.43, pp. 2043-2064.

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D. (1999), "A Case Study Evaluation of the use of the Viable Systems Model in Information Systems Development", Journal of Database Management, Vol.10, pp. 24-32.

Sauer, J.; Hockey, G.; Wastell, D. (1999), "Performance Evaluation in Analogue Space Environments: Adaptation During an 8-month Antarctic Over-Wintering Expedition", Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, Vol.70 (3), pp. 230-235.

Sauer, J.; Hockey, G.; Wastell, D. (1999), "Maintenance of Complex Performance During a 135-day Spaceflight Simulation.", Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, Vol.70 (3), pp. 236-244.

Sauer, J.; Wastell, D.; Hockey, G. (1999), "Multiple-Task Performance on a Computer-Simulated Life Support System During a Space Mission Simulation", Acta Astronomica, Vol.44, pp. 43-52.

Schoop, M.; Wastell, D. (1999), "Effective Multidisciplinary Communication in Healthcare: Cooperative Documentation Systems", Methods of Information in Medicine, Vol.38, pp. 265-273.

Wastell, D. (1999), "Learning Dysfunctions in Information Systems Development: Overcoming the Social Defences with Transitional Objects", MIS Quarterly, Vol.23, pp. 581-600.

Hockey, G.; Wastell, D.; Sauer, J. (1998), "Effects of Sleep Deprivation and Dialogue Control on the Management of a Complex System: A Test of the Compensatory Regulation Hypothesis", Human Factors, Vol.40, pp. 233-253.

Wastell, D.; Sewards, A. (1998), "An Information System Profile of the UK Manufacturing Sector", Journal of Information Technology, Vol.10, pp. 179-189.

Sauer, J.; Wastell, D.; Hockey, G. (1997), "Skill Maintenance in Extended Spaceflight: A Human Factors Analysis of Space and Analogue Work Environments", Acta Astronomica, Vol.8, pp. 579-587.

Wastell, D. (1997), "Human-Machine Dynamics in Complex Information Systems: The "Microworld" Paradigm as a Heuristic Tool for Developing Theory and Exploring Design Issues", Information Systems Journal, Vol.6, pp. 245-260.

Wastell, D. (1996), "The Fetish of Technique: Methodology as a Social Defense", Information Systems Journal, Vol.15, pp. 25-40.

Wastell, D.; Cooper, C. (1996), "Stress and Technological Innovation: A Comparative Study of Design Practices and Implementation Strategies", European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Vol.5, pp. 377-397.

Wastell, D.; Newman, M. (1996), "Information Systems Development in the Ambulance Service: A Tale of Two Cities", Accounting, Management and Information Technology, Vol.6, pp. 283-300.

Wastell, D.; Newman, M. (1996), "Stress, Control and Computer System Design: A Psychophysiological Field Study", Behaviour and Information Technology, Vol.15, pp. 183-192.

Wastell, D.; White, P.; Kawalek, P. (1994), "A Methodology for Business Process Redesign: Experiences and Issues", Journal of Strategic Information Systems, pp. 23-40.

Wastell, D.; Newman, M. (1993), "The Behavioural Dynamics of Information System Development: A Stress Perspective", Accounting, Management and Information Technology, Vol.3, pp. 121-148.


Wastell, D.; Dwivedi, Y.; Henriksen, H.; De, R. (2013), Grand successes and failures., Springer.

Wastell, D. (2011), Managing as designing in the public services: beyond techno-magic, Triarchy Press: Axminster.

McMaster, T.; Wastell, D.; Ferneley, E.; DeGross, J. (2007), ed Organisational Dynamics of Technology-Based Innovation: Diversifying the Research Agenda, Springer.

Truex, D.; Wastell, D.; Kaplan, B.; Wood-Harper, T.; DeGross, J. (2004), ed Relevant theory and informed practice: looking forward from a twenty year perspective on IS research, Boston US, Kluwer Academic Publishing.

Derniame, J.; Wastell, D.; Baba, A. (1999), ed Software Process: Principles, Methodology and Technology, Springer Verlag.

McMaster, T.; Mumford, E.; Swanson, E.; Warboys, B.; Wastell, D. (1997), ed Partnership and the transfer of Information Technology, Chapman and Hall.

Chapters in Books

White, S.; Wastell, D. (2011), "Theoretical discourse and moral negotiation in Child Welfare: the saga of Evie and Seb", in Candlin, C.; Sarangi, S. (ed) Handbook of Communication in Organisations and Professions, Mouton de Gruyter, Mouton de Gruyter, In Press.

Dwivedi, Y.; Levine, L.; Wastell, D. (2010), "Towards an understanding of the evolution of IFIP TC8/WG8.6 research", in Pries-Heje, J.; Venable et al (ed) Human Benefit through the Diffusion of IS Design Science Research, Springer, forthcoming 2010.

Wastell, D.; Broadhurst, K. (2009), "The Chiasmus of Design: Paradoxical Outcomes in the e-Government Reform of UK Children's Service", in Information systems - creativity and innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises, pp. 257-272.

Wastell, D.; White, S. (2009), "Technology as Magic: Fetish and Folly in the IT-enabled reform of Children's Services", in Ayre and Preston-Shoot (ed) Evidenzbasierte BildungChildren's services at the crossroads. Russell House, pp. 107--114, Earlier version published in Bottcher et al. (eds.), Evidenzbasierte Bildung, Waxmann. Munster..

White, S.; Wastell, D. (2009), "Unsettling Evidence and Lively Language: Reflexive Practitioner as Trickster", in Otto, H-U; Polutta, A; Ziegler, H. (ed) Evidence-based Practice - Modernising the Knowledge Base of Social Work, pp. 227-244, Barbara Budrich.

Wastell, D.; Sauer, J.; Schmeink, C. (2008), "Homeward bound: ecological design of domestic information systems", in Leon, G.et al (ed) Open IT-based innovation, pp. 273-290, Springer.

Wastell, D.; McMaster, T. (2007), "Conferences as epistemological experiments: purity pluralism and the politics of knowledge", in McMaster, T et al (ed) Organisational Dynamics of Technology-Based Innovation: Diversifying the Research Agenda, (23(2)), p.1-12, Palgrave Publishing Co. Ltd, The.

Wastell, D.; McMaster, T. (2006), "The rise of the Phoenix: methodological innovation as a discourse of renewal", in Donnellan, B.; Larsen, T. (ed) Transfer and Diffusion of IT for Organizational Resilience, proceeding of the IFIP 8.6 conference, Galway, Springer.

McMaster, T.; Wastell, D.; Henriksen, H. (2005), "Fooling Around: The Corporate Jester as an Effective Change Agent for Technological Innovation", in Baskersville et al. (ed) Business Agility and IT Diffusion, p. 129-146, Springer.

McMaster, T.; Wastell, D. (2004), "Success and Failure Revisited in the Implementation of New Technology: Some Reflections on the Capella Project", in Innovation for Adaptability and Competitiveness, Proceedings of IFIP WG8.6 Working Conference, Leixlip, Ireland, Boston, Kulwer.

Truex, D.; Wastell, D.; Kaplan, B.; Wood-Harper, T. (2004), "Young Turks, Old Guardsmen and the Conundrum of the Broken Mold: A Progress Report on 20 Years of IS Research", in Truex et al. (ed) the proceedings IFIP WG8.2 Conference, Manchester, p. 1-18, Boston, Kulwer.

Wastell, D. (2003), "Psychophysiology meets Sociotechnical Design: Optimising the Performance of Human Machine Systems", in Hockey, G.; Gaillard, A. (ed) Operator functional state and impaired performance in complex work environments, Amsterdam, IOS Press.

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D. (2002), "A Case Study of the use of the Viable System Model in the Organisation of Software Development", in Siau, K. (ed) Advanced topics in database research, pp. 120-134, Ideas Group.

Wastell, D. (2002), "Organisational Discourse as a Social Defence: Taming the Tiger of e-Government", in Global and Organisational Discourse about Information Technology, p. 179-198, Wynn, E. et al..

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D. (1999), "Software Development and Organisational Viability: An Account of the Impact of Organisational Issues on Software Quality", in McGuire, E. (ed) Software process improvement: concepts and practices, pp. 60-75, Hershey, PA, Idea Group.

Wastell, D. (1999), "The Human Dimension of the Software Process", in Derniame, J. et al (ed) Software Process: Principles, Methodology and Technology, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 1500, pp. 165-199, Springer.

Wastell, D.; Groenewagen, L. (1999), "Software Process: Key Issues and Future Directions", in Derniame, J. et al (ed) Software Process: Principles, Methodology and Technology, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 1500, pp. 201-213.

Wastell, D. (1993), "The Politics of Systems Development: Conflict, Stress and User Resistance", in CSCW: Cooperation or Conflict?, pp. 69-92, Springer-Verlag.


Wastell, D. 2008, "Securing organisational buy-in to support relationships through efficient change management: getting IT wrong again", at LGC conference on Improving Public Sector Information Management', Earls Court, London.

Wastell, D. 2008, "SPRINT - design and innovation methodology for the public services", at SPRINT annual conference 2008, co-developed with Salford City Council.

Wastell, D. 2007, "The Myth of Alignment", in Organisational Dynamics of Technology-Based Innovation: Diversifying the Research Agenda.

Wastell, D. 2007, "SPRINT - design and innovation methodology for the public services", at SPRINT annual conference 2007, co-developed with Salford City Council.

Wastell, D. 2006, "SPRINT - design and innovation methodology for the public services", at SPRINT annual conference 2006, co-developed with Salfod City Council.

Wastell, D.; Sauer, J.; Schmeink, C. 2006, "Homeward bound: a microworld study of domestic information systems design", in the proceedings of ECIS 2006, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Wastell, D. 2005, "SPRINT - design and innovation methodology for the public services", at SPRINT annual conference 2005, co-developed with Salford City Council.

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D. 2003, "Problematisation and Obfuscation in eGovernment", in Electronic Government, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2739,.

Wastell, D.; Kawalek, P.; Newman, M. 2003, "Plus ša change: defensive translations and resistance to IT-enabled change in local government", in the proceedings of ECIS 2003, Naples, Italy.

Wastell, D.; Sauer, J.; Hockey, G. 2003, "Using micro-worlds in research on distributed cognition in complex dynamic worlds: a ten year retrospective on the cabin air management system (CAMS)", in Cognitive Science Approaches to Process Control, EACE, Le Chesnay, France.

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D. 2001, "The Informed Representative: The Information Needs of Local Elected Decision Makers", at European Conference on Electronic Government Dublin, Ireland.

Wastell, D.; Kawalek, P.; Willetts, M. 2001, "Designing Alignment and Improvising Change: Experiences in the Public Sector using the SPRINT Methodology", in Global Cooperation in the New Millennium, Proceedings of ECIS 2001, Bled, Slovenia.

Kawalek, P.; Locke, E.; Wastell, D.; Willetts, M.; Kueng, P. 2000, "Seeking the Goal in the Process, the Process for the Goal: Organisational Learning in a Public Sector Change Project", at Americans Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) Long Beach, USA.

Kawalek, P.; Willets, M.; Wastell, D. 2000, "SPRINT: A Business Process Reengineering (BPR) Framework for Implementing the Information Society", in the proceedings of 11th Int. workshop on database and expert systems applications, Greenwich, IEEE.

Qavi, T.; Wastell, D. 2000, "'Open Access for All?'. A study of the Employment Service's touch-screen kiosks from the perspective of disabled job seekers", at 6th ERCIM workshop on User Interfaces.

Martin, D.; O'Neill, J.; Wastell, D. 1999, "Pushing All The Right Buttons: Lessons From Two Case Studies of Touch Screen Kiosks", in the proceedings of Interact'99, Edinburgh.

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D. 1998, "The cybernetics of software development: an investigation of organizational factors in the successful development of software", in the proceedings of the workshop on the human dimensions of successful software development, International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE'98), Kyoto, Japan, April 1998.

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D.; Docherty, A.; Shingler, K. 1998, "A Case Study of the use of the Viable Systems Model in IS Development", in the proceedings of the Evaluation of Modelling Methods in Systems Analysis and Design (EMMSAD'98). IFIP 8.1/CAISE, Pisa.

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D.; Docherty, A.; Shingler, K. 1998, "The viability of IS development: a case study", in the proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Systems Analysis and Synthesis, Orlando, July.

Martin, D.; Wastell, D.; Bowers, J. 1998, "An Ethnographic Systems Design Method: The Development and Evaluation of an Internet-Based Electronic Banking Application", in the proceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems, Aix-en-Provence, June 1998.

McMaster, T.; Vidgen, R.; Wastell, D. 1998, "Information Systems Development and "Due Process": The Case of the Van Sant Map", in the proceedings of of the IFIP WG8.2/8.6 conference on Information Systems: current issues and future challenges, Helsinki.

Schoop, M.; Wastell, D. 1998, "A Language-Action Approach to Cooperative Documentation Systems", in the proceedings of European Conference on Information Systems, Aix-en-Provence, June 1998. Published in Proceedings of ECIS'98.

Kolind, J.; Wastell, D. 1997, "The SEI's Capability Maturity Model: A Critical Survey Adoption Experiences in a Cross-Section of typical UK Companies", in Facilitating technology transfer through partnership: learning from practice and research, Ambleside.

Martin, D.; Bowers, J.; Wastell, D. 1997, "The Interactional Affordances of Technology: An Ethnography of Human-Computer Interaction in an Ambulance Control Centre", in People and Computers XII: Proceedings of HCI'97 (Cambridge).

McMaster, T.; Vidgen, R.; Wastell, D. 1997, "Technology Transfer: Diffusion or Translation", in Facilitating technology transfer through partnership: learning from practice and research, Ambleside.

Reynolds, M.; Wastell, D. 1996, "Breaking Down the Social Defenses: Enabling Learning with Transitional Objects", in the proceedings of ECIS'96, Litografia Amorim, Lisbon.

Kawalek, P.; Wastell, D. 1994, "The Development of a Process Modelling Method", in Information systems methodologies, proceedings of the 2nd BCS conference on information systems methodologies, Heriott-Watt University.


Wastell, D.; Kawalek, P.; Willets, M. 2004, "SPRINT: Salford Process Re-engineering Methodology", see www.sprint.gov.uk.



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