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