The paper aims to examine organizational authoring understood as a longitudinal, material and dialectical process of transformation efforts. The following questions are asked: To which extent can a Change Laboratory intervention help practitioners author their own learning? Are the authored outcomes of a Change Laboratory intervention futile if a workplace subsequently undergoes large-scale organizational transformations? Does the expansive learning authored in a Change Laboratory intervention survive large-scale organizational transformations, and if so, why does it survive and how?
The paper develops a conceptual argument based on cultural–historical activity theory. The conceptual argument is grounded in the examination of a case of eight years of change efforts in a university library, including a Change Laboratory (CL) intervention. Follow-up interview data are used to discuss and illuminate our argument in relation to the three research questions.
The idea of knotworking constructed in the CL process became a “germ cell” that generates novel solutions in the library activity. A large-scale transformation from the local organization model developed in the CL process to the organization model of the entire university library was not experienced as a loss. The dialectical tension between the local and global models became a source of movement driven by the emerging expansive object. Practitioners are modeling their own collective future competences, expanding them both in socio-spatial scope and interactive depth.
The article offers an expanded view of authorship, calling attention to material changes and practical change actions. The dialectical tensions identified serve as heuristic guidelines for future studies and interventions.
This research was supported by an Academy Research Fellowship (No. 292730) granted to Annalisa Sannino by the Academy of Finland, Research Council for Culture and Society. The research reported here has been also funded by the Academy of Finland through the project “Concept Formation and Volition in Collaborative Work” (No. 253804, PI Yrjö Engeström).
Sannino, A., Engeström, Y. and Lahikainen, J. (2016), "The dialectics of authoring expansive learning: tracing the long tail of a Change Laboratory", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 245-262. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-01-2016-0003Download as .RIS
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