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Yrjö Engeström

Yrjö Engeström

Engeström Y.

PhD, Professor Emeritus of Education, University of Helsinki; Professor Emeritus of Communication at University of California, San Diego, visiting professor at University West in Sweden and at Rhodes University in South Africa, CRADLE, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland,

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Last updated: 16.09.2020

RUIn Russian

Education and professional work

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-Gröhn, 2003). I have just finished a new book, Collaborative Expertise: Expansive Learning in Medical Work, to be published by Cambridge University Press.


I am interested in cultural-historical activity theory and developmental work research in general. Currently, I focus especially on co-configuration as a new way of organizing work, and expansive learning in multi-activity settings.

Articles 2

Psychological Science and Education (2020. Vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 31–43)

Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete as a Principle of Expansive Learning 375

CrossRef doi:10.17759/pse.2020250503

Cultural-Historical Psychology (2018. Vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 43–56)

Cultural-historical activity theory: founding insights and new challenges 2007

CrossRef doi:10.17759/chp.2018140304


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