“Trying to predict the future”: third-generation activity theory’s codesign orientation
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In the 1980s, Yrjö Engeström took up Leontiev’s activity theory, extending and modifying it extensively to apply it to learning in organizations. Whereas the work of Vygotsky and Leontiev represented a cultural psychology, this “third-generation” activity theory (3GAT) was arguably closer to an organizational sociology. This organizational sociology is specifically oriented to interventionist research: i.e., the consensus-driven codesign of systems of collective action. This underdiscussed orientation explains 3GAT's descriptive organizational modeling and triangle heuristic. Understanding this orientation is crucial for understanding how 2GAT was translated into 3GAT, as well as how a 4GAT might emerge in turn.