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TOWARD A TYPOLOGY
OF ACTIVITIES
Clay Spinuzzi, University of Texas at Austin
Spinuzzi, C. (2011). Losing by Expanding: Corralling the Runaway Object.
Journal of Business and Technical Communication, ...
Farming
hdo.utexas.edu
Engestrom and Escalante 1996
hdo.utexas.edu
 Farming‟s object is the field that is
“transformed time and again from brute...
The activity of farming
hdo.utexas.edu
hdo.utexas.edu
hdo.utexas.edu
Seppanen 2004
hdo.utexas.edu
 “The formal requirements forced the farmers to
expand their object towards administrative
a...
hdo.utexas.edu
hdo.utexas.edu
hdo.utexas.edu
Global warming
The cycle of the expanding
object
hdo.utexas.edu
Methodological
expansion
Theoretical
expansion
Method-
movement 1
Method-...
AT typologies
hdo.utexas.edu
 Historical progressions
 Engeström, Y. (1987)
 Engeström, Y. (2008)
 Yamazumi, K. (2009)...
Organizational typologies
hdo.utexas.edu
 The Three Waves (Toffler 1980)
 Markets, Bureaucracies, and Clans (Ouchi
1980)...
How is the object defined? (tacitly or explicitly?)
Where is the object defined? (internal or external to the division of ...
hdo.utexas.edu
A typology of activities
Object is tacitly defined
(High discretion; Inductive; Flexible)
Object is explici...
Hierarchies: explicit, internally
defined objects
hdo.utexas.edu
ct defined
ernally to
division of
labor
Authority)
shared...
Markets: explicit, externally defined
objects
hdo.utexas.edu
Object de
externall
activity’s
labor, with
activity ne
(servi...
Clans: implicit, internally defined
objects
hdo.utexas.edu
Object is tacitly defined
(High discretion; Inductive; Flexibl
...
Networks: implicit, externally
defined objects
hdo.utexas.edu
Object is tacitly defined
discretion; Inductive; Flexible)
O...
hdo.utexas.edu
A typology of activities
Object is tacitly defined
(High discretion; Inductive; Flexible)
Object is explici...
Interference patterns and internal
contradictions
hdo.utexas.edu
Internal contradictions between
types of activity
 Artemeva and Freedman 2001: Clan vs.
Hierarchy
 Ding 2008: Market vs....
Internal contradictions
 Internal contradictions form where
stakeholders’ perspectives on the object place
it in differen...
Questions?
hdo.utexas.edu
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Toward a typology of activities

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Toward a typology of activities

  1. 1. TOWARD A TYPOLOGY OF ACTIVITIES Clay Spinuzzi, University of Texas at Austin
  2. 2. Spinuzzi, C. (2011). Losing by Expanding: Corralling the Runaway Object. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 25(4), 449 – 486. The problem: The expanding object hdo.utexas.edu
  3. 3. Farming hdo.utexas.edu
  4. 4. Engestrom and Escalante 1996 hdo.utexas.edu  Farming‟s object is the field that is “transformed time and again from brute earth to crops of grain” (Engeström & Escalante 1996, p.360)
  5. 5. The activity of farming hdo.utexas.edu
  6. 6. hdo.utexas.edu
  7. 7. hdo.utexas.edu
  8. 8. Seppanen 2004 hdo.utexas.edu  “The formal requirements forced the farmers to expand their object towards administrative agencies, rules and subsidies.” (p.32)  “Essentially, the object of organic vegetable farming is the process of making „raw materials‟ into products and selling them to customers. The land, crops and the customers are part of the object. ... The concept of the object is by nature multifaceted.” (p.48)  “farmers construct their farming object, although the same in general terms, in different ways. … Although the object can be historically understood, it is not fixed.” (p.55)
  9. 9. hdo.utexas.edu
  10. 10. hdo.utexas.edu
  11. 11. hdo.utexas.edu Global warming
  12. 12. The cycle of the expanding object hdo.utexas.edu Methodological expansion Theoretical expansion Method- movement 1 Method- movement 2 Method- movement 3 Method- movement 4 Theory- movement 1 Theory- movement 2 Theory- movement 3 Theory- movement 4 Toward greater context Toward deeper multidimensionality o b j e c t o b j e c t o b j e c t o b j e c t o b j e c t
  13. 13. AT typologies hdo.utexas.edu  Historical progressions  Engeström, Y. (1987)  Engeström, Y. (2008)  Yamazumi, K. (2009)  Matrices  Engeström, Y., Brown, K., Christopher, L. C., & Gregory, J. (1997)  Engeström, Y. (2008)  Jarzabkowski, P. (2003)
  14. 14. Organizational typologies hdo.utexas.edu  The Three Waves (Toffler 1980)  Markets, Bureaucracies, and Clans (Ouchi 1980)  TIMN (Ronfeldt 1996)  C-Space (Boisot & Child 1999)  Cynefin (Snowden & Boone 2007)  Markets, Hierarchices, Collaborative Communities (Adler & Heckscher 2007)  Competing Values Framework (Cameron & Quinn 2011)
  15. 15. How is the object defined? (tacitly or explicitly?) Where is the object defined? (internal or external to the division of labor?) The proposed typology hdo.utexas.edu
  16. 16. hdo.utexas.edu A typology of activities Object is tacitly defined (High discretion; Inductive; Flexible) Object is explicitly defined (Low discretion; Deductive; Stable) Object defined externally to activity’s division of labor, within an activity network (service) Object defined internally to activity’s division of labor (Authority) CLANS uniting; relations, identity; shared values high trust “Let's develop the object based on our values.” NETWORKS cross-specialization projects; emerging values swift trust “Let's develop the object based on emerging values.” MARKETS exchange; price; exchange value, not “values”; bargaining low trust “Produce the object based on these specifications—if you want my business.” HIERARCHIES process; authority; institutional values institutional trust “Produce the object based on these specifications—if you want a job.”
  17. 17. Hierarchies: explicit, internally defined objects hdo.utexas.edu ct defined ernally to division of labor Authority) shared values high trust “Let's develop the object based on our values.” emerging values swift trust “Let's develop th emerging values MARKETS exchange; price not “values”; ba low trust “Produce the ob specifications—i business.” HIERARCHIES process; authority; institutional values institutional trust “Produce the object based on these specifications—if you want a job.”
  18. 18. Markets: explicit, externally defined objects hdo.utexas.edu Object de externall activity’s labor, with activity ne (service) red values high trust the object ur values.” emerging values swift trust “Let's develop the object based on emerging values.” MARKETS exchange; price; exchange value, not “values”; bargaining low trust “Produce the object based on these specifications—if you want my business.” ARCHIES authority; nal values ional trust ject based cations—if ant a job.”
  19. 19. Clans: implicit, internally defined objects hdo.utexas.edu Object is tacitly defined (High discretion; Inductive; Flexibl Object defined internally to y’s division of labor (Authority) CLANS uniting; relations, identity; shared values high trust “Let's develop the object based on our values.” NETWORKS cross-specializ emerging valu swift trust “Let's develop emerging valu MARKETSHIERARCHIES
  20. 20. Networks: implicit, externally defined objects hdo.utexas.edu Object is tacitly defined discretion; Inductive; Flexible) Object d externa activity’s labor, wi CLANS identity; ed values high trust he object values.” NETWORKS cross-specialization projects; emerging values swift trust “Let's develop the object based on emerging values.”
  21. 21. hdo.utexas.edu A typology of activities Object is tacitly defined (High discretion; Inductive; Flexible) Object is explicitly defined (Low discretion; Deductive; Stable) Object defined externally to activity’s division of labor, within an activity network (service) Object defined internally to activity’s division of labor (Authority) CLANS uniting; relations, identity; shared values high trust “Let's develop the object based on our values.” NETWORKS cross-specialization projects; emerging values swift trust “Let's develop the object based on emerging values.” MARKETS exchange; price; exchange value, not “values”; bargaining low trust “Produce the object based on these specifications—if you want my business.” HIERARCHIES process; authority; institutional values institutional trust “Produce the object based on these specifications—if you want a job.”
  22. 22. Interference patterns and internal contradictions hdo.utexas.edu
  23. 23. Internal contradictions between types of activity  Artemeva and Freedman 2001: Clan vs. Hierarchy  Ding 2008: Market vs. Hierarchy  Sherlock 2009: Network vs. Market hdo.utexas.edu
  24. 24. Internal contradictions  Internal contradictions form where stakeholders’ perspectives on the object place it in different quadrants.  Different stakeholders have arrayed different activity systems to pulse the object as they perceive it in different ways.  Those activity systems have taken on different tools, rules, actors, divisions of labor, and communities; they have adopted different pulses with different cycles. hdo.utexas.edu
  25. 25. Questions? hdo.utexas.edu

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