Developing a Tool for Cross-Functional Collaboration: the Trajectory of an Annual Clock


  • Riikka Ruotsala



well-being at work, supervisor, concept formation, intervention, script, activity theory


This empirical study examines how practitioners from the organizational functions of human
resources, occupational safety and occupational health services within a Finnish industrial
organization view the challenges that production supervisors face in their daily work. The article
presents a formative intervention, which focuses on supervisors’ changing work and how these
organizational support functions could collaboratively serve supervisors better, especially in their
task of promoting well-being at work. The article approaches this collective learning effort from
the framework of the Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), by examining how crossfunctional
collaboration evolves and the transitions through which it develops in an intervention
process. The development of collaboration is analysed through a process of collective concept and
tool formation by following a cross-meeting trajectory of specific annual clock episodes. An
annual clock, a co-ordinating tool used in organizations to assist the yearly planning and
management of specific operations, emerged in the intervention as the practitioners’ attempt to
synchronize overlapping and inconsistent well-being related practices assigned to supervisors.
The article presents a framework that can be applied in this kind of combined empirical analysis
of tool development and the evolving collaboration. The analysis shows how the idea of the annual
clock grew through multifaceted conceptualizations, in which it first had the status of a conceptual
object, then a collaborative tool, and eventually a script for becoming a novel cross-functional
practice. Simultaneously, the mode of interaction expanded from a function-based co-ordination to
task-oriented co-operation, and finally to communication.




How to Cite

Ruotsala, R. (2014). Developing a Tool for Cross-Functional Collaboration: the Trajectory of an Annual Clock. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 15(2), 31–53.