• 1924 March 06
    (b.) -
    2006 April 07


Early in her career Enid Mumford realised that the implementation of large computer systems generally resulted in failure to produce a satisfactory outcome. Such failure could arise even when the underlying technology was adequate. She demonstrated that the underlying cause was an inability to overcome human factors associated with the implementation and use of computers. Four decades later, despite the identification of these sociotechnical factors and the development of methodologies to overcome such problems, large scale computer implementations are often unsuccessful in practice. Following her BA in Social Science from Liverpool University, Enid Mumford spent time working in industry, first as personnel manager for an aircraft factory and later as production manager for an alarm clock manufacturer. The first job was important for her career as an academic, since it involved looking after personnel policy and industrial relations strategy for a large number of women staff. The second job also proved invaluable, as she was running a production department, providing a level of practical experience that is unusual among academics. Professor Mumford then joined the Faculty of Social Science at Liverpool University, where she carried out research in industrial relations in the Liverpool docks and in the North West coal industry. In order to collect information for the dock research, she became a canteen assistant in the canteens used by the stevedores for meals. Each canteen was in a different part of the waterfront estate and served dockers working on different shipping lines and with different cargoes. The coal mine research required her to spend many months underground talking to miners at the coal face. She then spent a year at the University of Michigan, where she worked for the University Bureau of Public Health Economics and studied Michigan medical facilities while her husband took a higher degree in dental science. On returning to England, she joined the newly formed Manchester Business School (MBS), where she undertook many research contracts investigating the human and organisational impacts of computer based systems. During this time she became Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Director of the Computer and Work Design Research Unit (CAWDRU). She also directed the MBA programme for four years. While at MBS, Professor Mumford developed a close relationship with the Tavistock Institute and became interested in their democratic socio-technical approach to work organisation. Since then, she has applied this approach to the design and implementation of computer-based systems and information technology. One of her largest socio-technical projects was with the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in Boston. In the 1970's she became a member of the International Quality of Working Life Group, the goal of which was to spread the socio-technical message around the world. She later became a council member of the Tavistock Institute and was also a member of the US Socio-technical Round Table.
  • Date of Birth:

    1924 March 06
  • Date of Death:

    2006 April 07
  • Gender:

  • Noted For:

    Early studies in the use of large scale computing
  • Category of Achievement:

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