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The inadequacy of an ordinary organisation: Organisational adaptation to crisis through planned and spontaneous links
Försvarshögskolan, Institutionen för ledarskap och management.
Försvarshögskolan, Institutionen för ledarskap och management .
Försvarshögskolan, Institutionen för ledarskap och management .
2010 (English)In: International Journal of Organisational Behaviour, ISSN 1440-5377, no 15, p. 87-102Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Emergency response organisations face the challenge of having a bureaucratic structure and meeting extreme situations where predefined directives cannot cover all possible emerging contingencies. The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the concept of links within the framework of emergency response agencies during severely demanding operations. The empirical data are based on fifty in-depth interviews from three crisis events. The results suggest that collaboration during crisis management is facilitated by two types of links—planned and spontaneous—and both can act vertically and horizontally. The results imply an elaboration of the organizational concept boundary spanners. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Columbus, OH, 2010. no 15, p. 87-102
Keywords [en]
Planned link and spontaneous link, boundary spanners, disaster management, bureaucratic organisation, trust
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-12532OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-12532DiVA, id: diva2:512000
Available from: 2012-03-26 Created: 2012-03-26 Last updated: 2013-03-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Bridging Boundaries in the Borderland of Bureaucracies: Individual Impact on Organisational Adaption to Demanding Situations in Civil and Military Contexts
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bridging Boundaries in the Borderland of Bureaucracies: Individual Impact on Organisational Adaption to Demanding Situations in Civil and Military Contexts
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis is to reach a deeper understanding of how boundary spanners are bridging boundaries between uniformed bureaucratic organisations and their environment, characterised by demanding conditions.

The main part of this thesis is based upon empirical data gathered through 71 interviews with Swedish civil and military informants from several uniformed organisations. Four articles have been included in this thesis in order to address the overarching aim.

The results show that boundary spanners are crucial to the adaption of uniformed organisations to demanding conditions. A number of aspects that are included in the process of organisational adaption have been identified. One of the tasks is to balance between structuring and improvisation where much is at stake. The other task is to create confidence among the involved actors and contribute in different ways to create a sense of symmetry between partners. Finally, the third task for boundary spanners is to recognise improvised roles such as spontaneous links in order to maintain stressful conditions and bridge a gap in the bureaucratic organisation. 

The present thesis contributes to sociological theory of emotions, disaster management and military studies through a common denominator, namely the demanding context. Taken together, the findings increase awareness of how organisations act towards their environments and how individuals, especially boundary spanners, adapt the organisation to its environment. For leaders and managers, it is important to make decisions, provide mandates and authorisation, as well as invest confidence in boundary spanners. The hierarchical chain may remain in existence, but it can be made shorter and more transparent through this kind of knowledge.

 

 

Abstract [en]

BAKSIDESTEXT:

Organisational adaption to the environment is a complex area of research, necessitating enquiry into how such adaption may take place. The purpose of this thesis is to reach a deeper understanding of how boundary spanners are bridging boundaries between uniformed bureaucratic organisations and their environment, characterised by demanding conditions such as disasters and war.

The main body of the thesis is based upon interviews with Swedish civil and military informants. The results show that boundary spanners are crucial to the adaption of uniformed organisations to demanding conditions. Their tasks involve balancing between structuring and improvisation, creating confidence among the involved actors and recognising improvised roles such as spontaneous links in order to maintain stressful conditions and bridge a gap in the bureaucratic organisation. 

Taken together, the findings increase awareness of how organisations act towards their environments and how individuals, especially boundary spanners, adapt the organisation to its environment. For leaders and managers, it is important to make decisions, provide mandates and authorisation, as well as invest confidence in boundary spanners. The hierarchical chain may remain in existence, but it can be made shorter and more transparent through this kind of knowledge.

The present thesis contributes to sociological theory of emotions, disaster management and military studies through a common denominator, namely the demanding context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2013. p. 93
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2013:12
Keywords
Boundary spanners, uniformed organisations, bureaucratic organisations, adaption, systems theory, contingency, stressful environment, civil-military relations, disaster management, emotional labour, Gränsöverskridare, uniformerade organisationer, byråkratier, anpassning, systemteori, contingency, påfrestande förhållanden, civil-militära relationer, katastrofhantering, emotionellt lönearbete
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-26445 (URN)978-91-7063-487-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-04-05, Andersalen, 11D 121, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-03-19 Created: 2013-02-21 Last updated: 2013-03-19Bibliographically approved

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