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Leadership in complex, stressful rescue operations: a qualitative study
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work.
2006 (English)In: Disaster Prevention and Management, ISSN 0965-3562, E-ISSN 1758-6100, Vol. 15, no 4, p. 576-584Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – To develop a theoretical understanding of leadership in stressful, complex rescue operations.Design/methodology/approach – A grounded theory approach was used. Twenty rescue operation commanders from four complex rescue operations in Sweden were interviewed.Findings – A model was developed which suggests that leadership in stressful, complex rescue operations can be understood as a causal process consisting of three broad time-related categories. The pre-operation everyday working conditions affect the leadership during rescue operations, which in turn affects the post-operation everyday working conditions, etc. Everyday working conditions include training and exercises, previous mission experiences, personal knowledge of co-actors, and organisational climate. The leadership during a complex rescue operation is affected by the leader's appraisal of the balance between what is at stake, human lives in particular, and the manageability of the situation. Patterns of stress reactions among rescue commanders and their leadership behaviour and managerial routines, were identified. Three problem areas were noted: role shifts during long-lasting operations, staff work, and practical routines. The post-operation conditions include the leader's evaluation of the outcome, organisational climate, and post-event stress reactions.Research limitations/implication – Small sample, lack of representativeness, and lack of illumination of possible gender-related aspects.Practical implications – The model may be valuable in training and exercises with rescue operation commanders.Originality/value – A new integrative, theoretical process model of leadership in complex, stressful rescue operations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 15, no 4, p. 576-584
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-22542DOI: 10.1108/09653560610685901OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-22542DiVA, id: diva2:515608
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Leadership and stress: indirect military leadership and leadership during complex rescue operations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Leadership and stress: indirect military leadership and leadership during complex rescue operations
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall purpose of this thesis has been to increase the knowledge concerning leadership and stress in complex military and rescue operations. One of the biggest differences these leaders have to deal with compared to leaders in other kinds of organizations is the question of life and death. Their way of leading and handling stress may have consequences for their own lives, their subordinates' lives, and often also other people's lives.

This thesis is based on four empirical studies which include multiple research methods, e.g. both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Paper I and II focus on indirect leadership in a military context and the main result are that indirect leadership can be understood as consisting of two simultaneous influencing processes. The first one is action-oriented and consists of interaction with a link which filters and passes the messages down to lower organizational levels. The second process is image-oriented and consists of being a role model. In the favourable case, trust is built up between the higher management and the employees. However, in the unfavourable case, there is a lack of trust, resulting in redefinitions of the higher managers' messages.

Paper III and IV focused on leadership in complex and/or stressful rescue operations. In paper III, rescue operation commanders from complex operations were interviewed, and in paper IV, quantitative questionnaires were answered by informants from the ambulance services, the police force and the rescue services. The main result are that leadership in complex, stressful rescue operations can be understood as consisting of three broad timerelated parts: everyday working conditions, during an operation, and the outcome of an operation. The most important factors in explaining the outcome of a complex rescue operation were shown to be the organizational climate before an incident, positive stress reactions, and personal knowledge about one's co-actors during an operation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet, 2012. p. 81
Series
Örebro Studies in Psychology, ISSN 1651-1328 ; 24
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-21666 (URN)978-91-7668-862-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-04-20, Ejdern, Karolinen, Karlstad, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-02-16 Created: 2012-02-16 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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