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Leadership in complex, stressful rescue operations: a quantitative test of a qualitatively developed model
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work. Department of Leadership and Management, Swedish National Defence College, Karlstad, Sweden.
Department of Leadership and Management, Swedish National Defence College, Karlstad, Sweden.
Department of Leadership and Management, Swedish National Defence College, Karlstad, Sweden.
2011 (English)In: Disaster Prevention and Management, ISSN 0965-3562, E-ISSN 1758-6100, Vol. 20, no 2, p. 199-212Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The purpose of the paper is to explore the universality of a qualitatively (grounded theory) developed model of leadership in complex and/or stressful rescue operations.

Design: The model was operationalised and tested on leaders (n=385) from the ambulance service, the police force, and the rescue services in Sweden. A questionnaire was operationalised from the codes and categories of the previously developed model.

Findings: The study showed that the most important factors in explaining the outcome of complex rescue operations were organisational climate before the incident, positive stress reactions, and personal knowledge of the co-actors during the episode. Cases where the leader appraised that the situation could not be resolved with the available resources were characterised by less favourable ratings, irrespective of whether humans were perceived as being threatened or not. The strength of this controllability aspect was interpreted in terms of a professional action-oriented identity.

Research limitations/implications: The results were affected by a high dropout rate and the fact that there were comparatively few large-scale rescue operations.

Practical implications: The results may be valuable in both training and exercises with rescue operation commanders.

Originality/value: The paper presents a validation of a new, integrative, theoretical process model of leadership in complex, stressful rescue operations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011. Vol. 20, no 2, p. 199-212
Keywords [en]
Search and rescue; Emergency services; Leadership; Sweden
National Category
Psychology Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-22543DOI: 10.1108/09653561111126120ISI: 000291228600008Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-79955590809OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-22543DiVA, id: diva2:515610
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2018-02-20Bibliographically 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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