Author: Yrjo Engestrom

I am Professor of Adult Education and Director of the Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research at University of Helsinki. I am also Professor of Communication at University of California, San Diego, where I served as Director of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition from 1990 to 1995. I am Honorary Professor in the School of Education at University of Birmingham, UK.

I work within the framework of cultural-historical activity theory. I am known for my theory of expansive learning. I study transformations in work and organizations, combining micro level analysis of discourse and interaction with historical analysis and modeling of organizations as activity systems working through developmental contradictions.

My research groups use intervention tools such as the Change Laboratory, inspired by Vygotsky’s method of dual stimulation, to facilitate and analyze the redesign of activity systems by practitioners. My current research is focused on health care organizations, a bank, and a telecommunications company striving toward new forms of co-configuration and knotworking.

My recent books include Cognition and Communication at Work (edited with David Middleton, 1996), Perspectives on Activity Theory (edited with Reijo Miettinen and Raija-Leena Punamäki, 1999), and Between School and Work: New Perspectives on Transfer and Boundary Crossing (edited with Terttu Tuomi-Grohn, 2003). I have just finished a new book, Collaborative Expertise: Expansive Learning in Medical Work, to be published by Cambridge University Press.


Publication period start: 2010
Number of co-authors: 16


Number of publications with favourite co-authors
Tony Gallagher
Sten R. Ludvigsen
Michael Cole

Productive Colleagues

Most productive colleagues in number of publications
Olav W. Bertelsen
Gerhard Fischer
Bonnie A. Nardi


Engestrom, Yrjo (2008): Enriching activity theory without shortcuts. In Interacting with Computers, 20 (2) pp. 256-259.

Hasu, Mervi, Engestrom, Yrjo (2000): Measurement in Action: AN Activity-Theoretical Perspective on Producer-User Interaction. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 53 (1) pp. 61-89.

Nardi, Bonnie A., Engestrom, Yrjo (1999): A Web on the Wind: The Structure of Invisible Work. In Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 8 (1) pp. 1-8.

Engestrom, Yrjo (1999): Expansive Visibilization of Work: An Activity-Theoretical Perspective. In Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 8 (1) pp. 63-93.

Engestrom, Yrjo, Engestrom, Ritva, Saarelma, Osmo (1988): Computerized Medical Records, Production Pressure and Compartmentalization in the Work Act. In: Greif, Irene (eds.) Proceedings of the 1988 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work September 26 - 28, 1988, Portland, Oregon, United States. pp. 65-84.

Engestrom, Yrjo, Sannino, Annalisa, Fischer, Gerhard, Moerch, Anders I., Bertelsen, Olav W. (2010): Grand challenges for future HCI research: cultures of participation, interfaces supporting. In: Proceedings of the Sixth Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction , 2010, . pp. 863-866.