Subsidiary and Polycentric Control

Implications for Interface Design

Authored by: John M. Flach , Kevin B. Bennett

Fields of Practice and Applied Solutions within Distributed Team Cognition

Print publication date:  September  2020
Online publication date:  September  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138626003
eBook ISBN: 9780429459542
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores some of the challenges associated with control and coordination in distributed work organizations and the implications for interface design. To achieve resilience in complex worlds, it becomes necessary for organizations to distribute authority broadly so that autonomous agents within the team can flexibly adapt to dynamic situations. However, this flexibility can be a threat to coordination with respect to achieving shared goals. On the one hand, interfaces need to be designed to help autonomous agents directly adapt to the local dynamics of specific situations. And on the other hand, the interfaces need to provide common ground to help operators see their local actions in light of the need to coordinate with other agents to achieve shared goals.

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