Student groups as ‘adhocracies’ – challenging our understanding of PBL, collaboration and technology use

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

186 Downloads (Pure)


In recent literature, socio-cultural scholars have argued that new forms of organising work within and across organisations are emerging. Engeström (2008) describes it in terms of ‘from teams to knots’ and in a recent book
Spinuzzi (2015) explores how some forms of work are carried out, not in stable teams inside an organisation, but rather as temporary convenings or ‘adhocracies’ that are formed dynamically around projects, to quickly disband and take their skills to new projects when the project ends. The value of these adhocracies (or their ‘edge’) relies on their ability to form links both inside and outside an organisation. Both accounts analyse how teams are becoming more dynamic, multidisciplinary and need to work across organisational, as well as geographical boundaries in quickly changing configurations of people. Spinuzzi, further argues how these changes are associated with new and emerging digital technologies, and how these technologies change how we communicate, coordinate and collaborate. In this paper, we critically discuss
these conceptualisations in relation to long-term group work within the frame of problem and project-based learning, as it is organised for example in Aalborg University. We explore what these changes might mean for the competences students should acquire in relation to collaboration and working in teams, and how this might impact on our understanding and design of problem and
project based learning
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication7th International Research Symposium on PBL : Innovation, PBL and Competences in Engineering Education
EditorsSunyu Wang, Anette Kolmos, Aida Guerra, Weifeng Qiao
Number of pages10
PublisherAalborg Universitetsforlag
Publication date4 Nov 2018
ISBN (Electronic)978 -87- 7210- 002 -9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2018
Event7th International Research Symposium on PBL: Innovation, PBL and Competences in Engineering Education - Beijing, China
Duration: 19 Oct 201821 Oct 2018


Conference7th International Research Symposium on PBL
SeriesInternational Research Symposium on PBL


  • PBL
  • adhocracies
  • Knotworking
  • Theory
  • Problem and Project Based Learnig


Dive into the research topics of 'Student groups as ‘adhocracies’ – challenging our understanding of PBL, collaboration and technology use'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this