The Double Path of Expansive Learning in Complex Socio-Technical Change Processes


  • Monika Hackel
  • Michael Klebl



The purpose of this article is to describe how expansive learning in organisations can become a resource for learning in a wider community of practice (CoP). The “developmental work research” approach (DWR) based on cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) is beneficial for analysing and interpreting the requirements in a field of action. Engeström’s specific form of “action research” focuses on expansive learning in activity systems. However, complex socio-technical change processes cannot be initiated and managed by the local community of practise alone. In order to establish the use of new tools, new methodologies or organisational solutions in a field of work, a double path of expansive learning is needed: Findings from the participative analysis and interpretation of contradictions in the local activity system have to be transferred to wider communities of practice. This paper illustrates a double path of expansive learning by presenting the experiences of research and development in machine and plant engineering companies in Germany. In the AQUIMO project, a project team has developed an adaptable software tool for multidisciplinary mechatronical engineering and created a related qualification program. The support from external social researchers has helped to initiate, disseminate and establish new ways to organise the division of labour in teams of engineers.




How to Cite

Hackel, M., & Klebl, M. (2014). The Double Path of Expansive Learning in Complex Socio-Technical Change Processes. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 15(1), 04–27.