There exists a diverse range of human economic activities and interactions with the natural and institutional environment. The diversity in the interactions results from wide range of events to which interactions respond, and through which interactions are mutually connected.

For better understanding the values (and claims) that are exchanged in interactions, and the impact that institutions may have on them, an interaction dictionary will be helpful.

The articulation (via representation) of entrenched practices that harm certain constituencies (vicious cycles), can support transforming the practices, for instance from a vicious to a virtuous cycle.

Dictionary Scope

The large variety of actors identified in the Actor Atlas, and the complexity of the contemporary society gives rise to a large variety of interaction (patterns) and events connecting them.

The focus in the dictionary is on interactions that respond to specific events and involve durable content actants, as addressed in the Actant Dictionary.

The choice of actants shape, constrain and afford the interactions in which actors, especially those listed in the Actor Atlas, must engage to achieve their objectives. This is especially the case in multi-stakeholder theatres that are typical for sustainable development.

These categories of interactions are included in the dictionary:

For the events we distinguish:


The specification of interaction families by means of patterns typically includes:

  • process models and action elements describing the interaction; and
  • signatures specifying the various entities involved in the interaction.

In this interaction dictionary, we will use business layer model elements of the ArchiMate architectural framework.

Further reading

Background: Actor-Network Theory (ANT)

For some background and further references on Actor-Network Theory, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor-network_theory.

How various concepts from the Actor-Network theory are applied in shaping interactions is explained at Ens and Entelechy (footnote 3).

Background: Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT)

Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) is suitable to perform contextual analysis for cognitive processes in which the cognition is embedded in broader institutional structures and long-term historical trajectories of development and change.

CHAT regards enterprise and society development as a process of remediation: the substitution of old mediating artifacts (for instance sentences on papers and in documents) with new artifacts (including the IST instruments), which better serve the needs of the activity concerned. Remediation means that the external objects are seen in a new context.

For analyzing an activity, we must consider its subject, the entity performing the activity, and its object, the necessary entity that allows realizing the outcome. A tool can be anything used in the transformation process, including both material tools and cultural mediators. The cultural mediators or artifacts that individuals (subjects) use also carry the typical intentions and objectives of people in specific situations.

Practice Note: Interaction modelling in the programme and project cycle
Interaction modelling fits in the contemporary model based engineeering that is facilitated by enterprise architecture tools. Further details are provided at model based engineering in a work system context.