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Tracing innovation: an activity theoretical approach.

Wiegel, Valeri


Valeri Wiegel


This paper argues that tracing the diffusion of innovation is a challenging endeavour. The difficulty is that an innovation comes into existence as a cognitive and inter-personal idea and transforms over time into tangible and material manifestation. Grasping the evolutionary transformation from one form to the other requires a holistic methodology which crosses the boundary between both levels. Cultural-Historic Activity Theory is proposed as one means by which we may fulfil these requirements and bridge both worlds. An industrial research project set in the German automotive industry is analysed from an action research perspective. The framework of Cultural-Historic Activity Theory is utilised to explore the applicability of this as an intellectual approach that can assist our understanding of practice. The case study demonstrates how the framework aids the unravelling of an activity system, providing a narrative of the innofusion of a specific technology – a supply network decision support system (SNDSS). Finally, the paper concludes that the framework has merits for both practitioners and scholars.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name ECIS 2011
Publication Date 2011
Deposit Date Oct 10, 2011
Publicly Available Date Dec 31, 2011
Publisher Association for Information Systems
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Book Title ECIS 2011 Proceedings
Keywords Innovation studies; diffusion of innovation; tracing innovation; activity theory;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Oct 10, 2011


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