Activity Theory and Its Contribution to Strategy Research Sample Essay

Activity theory is a name that commontly accepted for a line of speculating and research iniated by L. S. Vygotsky. A. N. Leont’ev. and A. R. Luria. in the 1920s and 1930s. the laminitiss of the cultural-historical school of Russian psychological science ( Ed. Engerstrom. Miettinen. Punamaki. 1999 ; Engerstrom. 2000 ) . Chaiklin. Hedegaard. Jensen ( 1999 ) explain that the roots of activity theory and the cultural historical attack to psychological science are in the theory and research of Lev S. Vygotsky and Alexei N Leontiev. Similarly. Bedney and Meister ( 1997: Fifteen ) nowadays that activity theory has a wide history dating back to Vigotsky’s work and his followings. The bookmans around the universe have elaborated and developed further this activity theory with carry oning research in antropology. teaching method. computing machine scientific discipline. doctrine. and psychological science ( Chaikin et al. 1999 ; Engerstrom et Al. 1999 ) . This paper will seek to sketch activity theory and its application in scheme research. Activity theory is a psychological paradigm as a footing for work behavior survey in the former Soviet Union and it assumes ‘a typical human psychological science defined by end directed behaviour’ ( Bedny. Seglin. Meister. 2000:168 ) .

Activity theory defines ‘activity’ as ‘a end directed system in which knowledge. behavior and motive are integrated and organized by ends and the mechanisms of ego regulation’ ( Bedney et Al. 2000:168 ) . Kuutti as quoted by Hasan ( 2002 ) defines acivity theory ‘as a doctrine and cross – diciplinary model for analyzing different signifiers of human patterns and offers a set of constructs. constructions. and footings that are eminently suited to research undertaken within the communities of pattern. ’ Further. Kuutti describes actvity as ’a signifier of making directed to an an object’ ; and the object transformed into an result by affecting it through interceding artefacts thrusts. the being of an activity ( Food. 2001 ) . In activity theory the matter-of-fact construct of “activity” is merely what people do. so that activity theory provides a model suited to analyze mundane and everyday human work where information and cognition enable a strategic part ( Hasan. 2002 ) . Harmonizing to Bedney et. Al ( 2000 ) in activity theory. goal-orientation drives the elements of cognitive. behavioral and motivational into an incorporate system that includes goal-oriented feed-forward and feed back elements ( Bedney et al. 2000 ) .

Further. Bedney et al explicate that the most essensial unit of analysis in activity theory is a construct of action. which influenced the development of action theory in Western Europe. Under the rubrics of activity theory. motivations. programs. public presentation methods and end directed behaviour as a whole can be formulated either conciously or unconciously. but ‘the end of an activity is ever concious’ ( Bedney et Al. 2000:168 ) . Philosophically. activity theory is rooted in Karl Marx’s world construct as sensuous human activity. pattern ( Foot. 2001 ) . Engerstrom et Al ( 2009 ) citing Marx explain that construct of activity consequences in a new manner to understand alteration and it does non lift from above and nor it depends on simply single ego alteration of topics. The key is “revolutionary practice” which is non to be seen in narrowly political context but as joint “practical- critical-activity” potentially reflected in any mundane mundane pattern ( Engerstrom et al. 2009 ) .

Foundational to activity theory is Marx’s points. that is. ‘real philistinism has to take into history how societal relationships are manifest in the felt experience of corporal individuals. ’ meanwhile the critical-cultural surveies tradition has failed to link ‘the forms of pattern in economic relationships or media texts with the lived experience of corporal persons’ ( Foot. 2001: 59 ) . Similarly. Avis ( 2007 ) citing Engerstrom nowadayss that activity theory ‘derives from Marxian and is mediated through the work of Vygotsky. ’ Further. Engerstrom and Miettinen as quoted by Avis ( 2007. 162 ) write: Marx’s analysis of capitalist economy includes priceless analytical instruments. above all the construct of trade good as contradictory integrity of usage and exchange value. This dialectical construct is important for any serious analysis of the contradictory motivations of human activities and human mind in capitalist society. Still about Karl Mark. the Mark’s construct of labor was the paradigmatic theoretical account of human object–oriented activity for Vygotsky when he built the construct of activity that stressed on the two reciprocally dependent things of mediation in labour actvity ( Engerstrom. 2009 ) .

The first is the devising and usage of tools that is started by doing of tools. and the 2nd is the labour procedure that is performed in the signifier of joint corporate activity. Consequently. in this procedure. the adult male fuctions in a certain relationship with nature and to other people as good. Vigotsky’s survey of the human development was besides influenced by the co-worker of Mark. Friederich Engels. who emphazised the critical function of labour and tools in transforming connexion between human existences and their environment ( Vygotsky. 1978 ) . Engels described the map of tools in human development as follows: ‘The tool specifically symbolizes human activity. man’s transmutation of nature: production. ’ and such an attack needs an apprehension of the active function of history in the development of human psycological ( Vygotsky. 1978:132 ) . As Edward E. Berg pointed out: Merely as the tools of labour alteration historically. so the tools of believing alteration historically. And merely as new tools of labour give rise to new societal constructions. new tools of believing give rise to new mental constructions. Traditionally. it was thought that such things as the household and the province ever existed in more or less their present signifier.

Similarly. one besides tends to see the construction of the head as something cosmopolitan and ageless. To Vygotsky. nevertheless. both societal constructions and mental constructions turn out to hold really definite historical roots. and are quiet specific merchandises of certain degrees of tool development. ( Steiner and Souberman. in Vygotsky. 1978:132 ) Engel as quoted by Steiner and Souberman ( 1978 ) presented essensial constructs and elaborated by Vygotsky are that in the history. adult male. excessively. ‘affects nature. alterations it. creates for himself new natural conditions of existence’ and they both criticized the position of psichologists and philosophers that ‘only nature affects adult male and merely natural conditions determine man’s historic development’ ( Steiner and Souberman in Vigotsky. 1978:132 ) .

Further. Vygotsky pointed out that the tool usage has cardinal consequence on worlds both because the tool usage has helped them link more efficaciously to their external environment and it has influenced significantly on functional and internal relationships within the human encephalon. Furthermore. it looks that the most distinguishing subject of Vygotsky’s work is his emphasizing on how as human being we realize actively and alter ourselves in the different scenes of civilization and history ( Steiner and Souberman in Vigotsky. 1978 ) . Activity Systems

In his paper on activity theory. Engerstrom ( 2000: 960 ) explains an attack that differs between short term end directed actions and long term. object orientated activity systems. and argues that this attack called as cultural-historical activity theory ( CHAT ) is ‘a new model aimed at trancending the dualities of micro and macro. mental and stuff. observation and intercession in analysis and redesign of work. ’ Further. Engerstrom says that ‘activity systems are driven by communal motivations that are frequently hard to joint for single participants’ and they are internally contradictory and in changeless motion which the contradictions are manifested in everyday inventions and perturbations that drive wide developmental transmutations. Such transmutations result from expansive larning get downing with oppugning the bing standart pattern. so ‘analyzing its contradictions and patterning a vision for its zone of proximal development. so to actions of analyzing and implementing the new theoretical account in practice’ ( Engerstrom. 2000: 960 ) .

Further. Engerstrom argues that activity theory is alone in three ways: First. activity theory is profoundly contextual and oriented at understanding historically specific local patterns. their objects. interceding artefacts. and societal organisation ( Cole and Engerstrom. 1993 ) . Second. activity theory is based on dialectical theory of cognition and thought. focused on the originative potency in human knowledge ( Davidov. 1988 ; and Ilyenkov. 1977 ) . Third. activity theory is a developmental theory that seeks to explicate and act upon qualitative alterations in human patterns over clip. ( Engerstrom. 1999: 378 ) . The activity system can be drawed upon triangular representations ; foremost. the upper portion of trigon are representation of single and group actions reflexted in an activity system. Second. community who portion the activity general object. The last. the regulations that regulate action ( Avis. 2009 ) . This activity systems as described by Frans Prenkert ( 2006 ) have several chief characteristics. they are: 1. An expressed object orientation

2. A acknowledgment of the corporate character of human activity 3. A impression of cultural mediation
4. An incorporation of contradiction and paradox as the beginnings of alteration Furthermore. Engerstrom as quoted Avis ( 2009 ) argues that five rules underpin activity theory: 1. A corporate. artifact mediated and object oriented activity system as the premier unit of analysis. 2. The multi-voicedness of activity systems. 3. Historicity 4. The chief function of contradiction as beginnings of alteration and development. 5. The possibility of expansive transmutation in activity systems. Following Engerstrom. Prenkert ( 2006 ) homo activity is modeled in trigon shaped theoretical account consisting of a big trigon with three vertexs and its connecting sides ( Figure 1 ) . The larger activity trigon consists of four bomber trigon ; production. distribution. exchange. and ingestion is besides an vertex of the larger activity trigon. while the other two are shared among the bomber trigons.

The six constitutional elements of human activity are located around the larger activity trigon. These elements comprise a topic executing the activity. instruments helping in the activity. an object of the activity. a division of labour to administer wagess and duties of the activity. a community in which the activity takes topographic point. and eventually. regulations regulating the activity performed in the community. This theoretical account of human activity depicts the constitutional elements and their dealingss in footings of an activity system. and it is what we have referred to as an ASM. These elements are of two types: nucleus elements such as capable. object/outcome. and community ; and mediatory elements such as instruments. regulations and division of labour. ’ Furthermore. In their article. Waycott. Jones. Scanlon ( 2005 ) citing Leont’ev point out that activities comprise spesific end directed actions. which ‘in turn constitute operations. the modus operandi. automatic procedures that enable the end of the action to be reached. The usage of available tools which represent the ‘conditions’ will enable actions achieved. and the conditions of the activity consequence in operations. or everyday / modus operandi procsess used.

The undermentioned illustration on the activity of reading class stuffs can explicate the difference between activities. actions and operations. Several actions like reading paperss. texts books. sharing thought with other pupils. etc might lend to this activity. Turning pages in the text books or paperss. flicking through the paperss to travel Forth and back among chapters and subdivisions. and so on are the parts of the operations. The operations would be dependent on the activity conditions. such as if the pupils would read paperss on PDA alternatively of paper. so the operations of flicking through the paperss would non use any longer. Alternatively. the operation would be to scroll up and down along the screen shows of the text. Contributions of activity theory in Strategy research As discussed in the old subdivision that construct of activity consequences in a new manner to understand alteration and provides a model suited to analyze mundane human work.

To get down this subdivision the writer would wish to cite Paula Jarzabkowsky’s position. a chief advocate of activity theory. that argues that ‘activiy theory provides a model of four synergistic constituents from which scheme emerges ; the corporate constructions of the organisation. the primary histrions. in this research conceptualized as the top direction squad ( TMT ) . the practical activities in which they interact and the strategic patterns through which interaction is conducted’ and it can be used to analyze an empirical survey of the micro patterns of scheme ( Jarzabskowsky. 2003: 23 ) . A survey of micro scheme can be found within the turning organic structure of research on pattern. concentrating on how people engage in the making of existent work ( Jarzabskowky. 2003 ) . Furthermore. harmonizing to Johnson. Melin. Whittington ( 2003 ) . An activity-based position of scheme focal points on the elaborate procedures and patterns which constitute the twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours activities of organisational life and which relate to strategic results every bit good as allows managerial bureau.

In the micro processes of strategizing directors and other members of organisation are involved twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours and such procedures determine the organisational ability to explicate and implement scheme ( Maitlis and Lawrance. 2003 ) . The ground for contextualizing scheme within a theory of pattern is specifically to concentrate attending on its modus operandi and routinizing elements ( Hendry and Seidl. 2003 ) . Following Jarzabkowsky ( 2003:24 ) a conceptual model of activity theory is modeled in trigon shaped theoretical account consisting of a big trigon with three vertexs and its connecting sides ( Figure 2 ) . It is used to explicate the three cardinal parts of activity theory to a survey of scheme as pattern. They are. first. part on practical activity.

Practical activity is the site of interaction in which histrions engage with their contexts overtime. Practical activity is comprised of a series action but it is more historically situated and corporate thought than any individual action. Second. part of the construct of activity theory of patterns as go-betweens between components. Interpretation of activity theory on pattern through which histrions and corporate constructions interact in practical activity. Third. analyzing the manner that activity theory can be used to explicate continuity and alteration at activity system degree.


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