This conceptual paper underlines the necessity of research into sociotechnical systems in modern high-tech industries. Production of sophisticated products is foreseen to build the competitiveness of the advanced economies’ industrial sectors in the future. Increasingly, competitiveness in such industries depends on a complex interaction between social factors such as knowledge sharing, knowledge generation, learning and innovation, and technical factors such as robotization, automation and information systems. However, up to now, improvements and developments in these industries have tended to be biased towards the technology side. To balance this and to take into account the necessity of more effective human – machine interaction, and the need of knowledge sharing, learning and innovation, it proposes a mode for how to challenge highly automated, high-tech and knowledge based high-cost manufacturing, where: 1) State-of-the-art technology is necessary, but not sufficient; 2) state-of-the-art technology requires high level of competence and advanced organization, and 3) a joint organizational and technical perspective is needed in order to develop sustainable competitiveness through high performance work systems in high-tech manufacturing. Operational excellence in such niches requires companies that, through sophisticated practices of organization and management, are able to exploit systems of advanced manufacturing technology.