Activity Theories for Work Analysis and Design


Dr. Pascal Béguin
Full Professor
Institute for work studies of Lyon
Université Lumière Lyon 2
Dr. Francisco Castro Moura Duarte
Programma de Engenharia de Produção
Cidade Universitaria – Centro de Tecnologia
UFRJ – Sala G209
Ilha do Fundão
21945-972 – Rio de Janeiro
Postal 68507


Contact Dr. Pascal Béguin for more information or to join this Technical Committee

Background and Objectives

Interest in activity theories, which was long restricted to a small circle of specialists (mainly in psychology and educational sciences), has spread to ergonomics over the last few years. In August 2000, the International Ergonomics Association Council adopted an official definition, writing that “ergonomics is a systems-oriented discipline which now extends across all aspects of human activity”. And it was decided in July 2005, to form the Technical Committee “Activity theories for work analysis and design”.

Of course, activity theory refers to the pioneed research movement that developed in the USSR. But beyond the Russian school itself, several theoretical and empirical research movements concerned with activity (inspired by the Russian school or autonomous) have grown in parallel, sometimes over several decades. These different communities, throughout their history, have constructed activity-oriented perspectives that do not coincide on all points.




  • To develop a research community interested by cultural and historical approaches of human conduct in ergonomics.
  • To document and to disseminate theories and methods based on these approaches for field analysis and design.
  • To organize collaborative events for researchers and practitioners interested by this area.


Previous events

1st Symposium ATWAD, IEA 2006, Maastricht, Co-Chairs: L. Norros, C. Owen, M. Neboit
The aim of this first symposium was to better identify the activity-oriented approaches in ergonomics.

The two best papers were published in the French open-access journal @ctivites (Vol. 4, no 1 & 2). For more information, see:

Activity 2008, “Activity analyses for developing work”. 12-14 May, 2008: Helsinki, Finland
This second event was organized jointly with the Finnish research community (from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, University of Helsinki Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and Verve), which plays a major role in the development and the dissemination of activity approach. There were 80 presentations centered on the following sub-themes.

  • Interventions and intervention methodologies in developing work
  • The concepts ‘work’ and ‘activity’ in ergonomic research
  • Activity approaches in riish analysis and management
  • New activity-driven design concepts


2007-2008 ATWAD Report


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2015 Annual Report Activity Theories for Work Analysis and Design


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