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Leadership and stress: indirect military leadership and leadership during complex rescue operations
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work.
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: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-21666ISBN: 978-91-7668-862-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-21666DiVA, id: diva2:503678
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
List of papers
1. Indirect leadership in a military context: a qualitative study on how to do it
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Indirect leadership in a military context: a qualitative study on how to do it
2005 (English)In: Leadership & Organization Development Journal, ISSN 0143-7739, E-ISSN 1472-5347, Vol. 26, no 3, p. 215-227Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – To develop a theoretical understanding of how indirect leadership is done in a military context.Design/methodology/approach – A grounded theory approach was used. Twenty-two high-level Swedish commanders, and six of their subordinates were interviewed.Findings – A model was developed which suggests that indirect leadership can be understood as consisting of two simultaneous processes. One is action-oriented and consists of interacting with a link (usually a small group of directly subordinate managers) which passes the messages down to lower organisational levels. The other influence process is image-oriented and consists of being a role model. Both processes are filtered through a “lens” which consists of the relative impact of a safety culture on the activities. In the favourable case, the employees at the lower levels trust both the link and the higher management. This appears to be a necessary condition for commitment and active participation. In the unfavourable case, there is a lack of trust. This breeds redefinitions of the messages and a necessity for relying on reward and punishment to obtain obedience.Research limitations/implications – Lack of representativeness, indirect influence from lower to higher levels, as well as possible gender-related aspects, not studied.Practical implications – The suggested model may be a valuable tool in higher management education.Originality/value – The identification of two co-occurring pathways of influence.

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-22540 (URN)10.1108/01437730510591761 (DOI)
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
2. Indirect leadership: a quantitative test of a qualitatively developed model
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Indirect leadership: a quantitative test of a qualitatively developed model
Show others...
2007 (English)In: Leadership & Organization Development Journal, ISSN 0143-7739, E-ISSN 1472-5347, Vol. 28, no 8, p. 771-784Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the applicability of a previously developed model of indirect leadership (qualitative Grounded Theory case study) in a broader military context.Design/methodology/approach – The model was operationalised to specific questionnaires for high-level managers, middle-level managers, and lower-level employees. Data were obtained from 147 Norwegian and 134 Swedish military officers, representing all three levels, and serving in the Army and Air Force respectively.Findings – The theoretical model of indirect leadership was partly supported. Higher importance was attributed to image-oriented top-down influence, rather than to action-oriented influence via directly subordinate commanders, which may be understood using developmental, transformational, and authentic leadership formulations. Meaningful patterns of subgroup differences were obtained.Research limitations/implications – Indirect leadership is complex and bottom-up influences were not taken into account, not all aspects of the top-down influence process were covered, only military contexts were studied, and no meaningful analysis of possible gender-related differences was possible in this male-dominated context.Practical implications – The obtained support of the theoretical model legitimises its use as a tool in higher military management education and coaching.Originality/value – The measurement tools of indirect leadership and the quantitatively based support of a Grounded Theory model with a how-focus on indirect leadership.

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-22541 (URN)10.1108/01437730710835489 (DOI)
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
3. Leadership in complex, stressful rescue operations: a qualitative study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Leadership in complex, stressful rescue operations: a qualitative study
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.

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-22542 (URN)10.1108/09653560610685901 (DOI)
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
4. Leadership in complex, stressful rescue operations: a quantitative test of a qualitatively developed model
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Leadership in complex, stressful rescue operations: a quantitative test of a qualitatively developed model
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
Keyword
Search and rescue; Emergency services; Leadership; Sweden
National Category
Psychology Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-22543 (URN)10.1108/09653561111126120 (DOI)000291228600008 ()2-s2.0-79955590809 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2018-02-20Bibliographically approved

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