The Third Finnish Conference on Cultural and Activity Research

The Third Finnish Conference on Cultural and Activity Research (FISCAR ’07)
University of Helsinki, September 27-28.2007
‘Transforming objects of social practices within global networks’
Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research
P.O Box 26
FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
Objects of professional care. Digital projector and laptop
What happens after a Change Laboratory process,
will a new understanding of the object take shape in the long run?
Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research
Anu Kajamaa, MA, Doctoral student
Activity theoretical interventions are often multi-voiced involving representatives from historically differing
professions. Aim of an intervention is typically new understanding and construction of a shared object.
However object construction and its consequences in daily activities are rarely followed after the
interventions. I have been involved in a Change Laboratory project* which has taken intervention process
further and followed the consequences of the intervention after its official closure.
In my presentation I will give an orientation to an article which is under development. In the article my aim is
to develop new kinds of assessment methods and tools to study consequences of organizational
interventions. In my presentation I will introduce an empirical case and outline a process in which
assessment methods and tools are currently being generated. The empirical case is the Change Laboratory
project mentioned above, which was conducted in Surgical Operating Unit of a university hospital in Finland.
Organization and leadership model of the Unit had practically fallen into crisis and modeling of new shared
object began during the intervention. The project finished officially on December 2006.
In contrast to normative hospital assessment methods my approach to assessment is qualitative in nature. I
am combining activity theory with narrative evaluation. In my presentation I will illustrate a collective creation
and implementation process of a qualitatively oriented electronic assessment tool, which took place after the
Change Laboratory project. The tool is used for reporting disturbances in daily activities and its aim is to
reveal the functionality and emerging problems of the new organization and leadership model. The
implementation process involved shop-floor, me as researcher and quality controller; it was collective and
crossed organizational boundaries in complex hospital organization. Alongside following the assessment tool
process I have used narrative and ethnographic methods in order to find out the consequences of the
intervention and whether the object will be configured in new way.
* Participants of the research project were Professor Yrjö Engeström, Ph.D, Researcher Hannele Kerosuo
and doctoral student Anu Kajamaa. Change Laboratory is an activity theoretical based intervention method
(Engeström, Virkkunen, Helle, Pihlaja, & Poikela, 1996).