Workplace Gamification using Cultural Historical Activity Theory: Three Case Studies

  • Kerstin Oberprieler

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

    Abstract

    Organisations are continuously seeking to increase employee engagement to improve
    organisational performance and gain competitive advantage. Gamification — the use of game
    mechanics in non-game contexts — is a nascent and increasingly applied approach to improve
    engagement and holds promise to address current engagement gaps in workplaces. Applying
    gamification to the complexities and idiosyncrasies of the workplace, however, presents
    challenges for researchers and gamification designers. This thesis argues that Cultural
    Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) provides a theoretical framework for addressing these
    challenges in both research and practice, and it develops methods of adapting the use of
    CHAT to understand the unique factors of a particular workplace context.
    Using a qualitative design-based research method, a gamification experience was designed for
    staff of three workplaces using the same five design steps in all contexts and implementing a
    gamification experience for three months. Three organisations participated in this study: a
    school seeking to increase innovative teaching practices in its teachers; a restaurant wanting
    to improve team interaction and restaurant management; and a government department
    wanting to increase professional development activities.
    The findings from this study demonstrate the positive effects gamification can have in the
    workplace, including increased staff engagement and motivation, improved team interactions
    and communication, increased productivity and better clarity on team goals, and increased
    workplace satisfaction. Significantly, the gamification design process helped alleviate
    systemic tensions in the workplace and demonstrates that gamification can contribute to a
    more productive and higher performing organisation.
    This thesis makes several unique contributions including providing additional qualitative
    evidence of the effectiveness of gamification and first study to extend Cultural Historical
    Activity Theory and practice to the gamification design process. Finally, this thesis provides a
    gamification design process and evaluation framework for designers to use when
    implementing gamification in the workplace.
    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Canberra
    SupervisorSimon Leonard (Supervisor), Robert Fitzgerald (Supervisor), Sam Hinton (Supervisor) & Michael Walsh (Supervisor)

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