Funding for studying organizational routines in incident command centers

Last night, Oscar, Ola, and I received the news that Riksbankens jubileumsfond will finance our project “Organizational routines in incident command centers: Improving society’s ability to handle extreme events“!!!

Please find the abstract below.


The project investigates organizational routines in incident command through a comparative analysis of organizations critical to society’s response to extreme events. The purpose of the project is to develop a novel framework for understanding routines and their function as organizations switch to incident command. Further, the project aims to test this framework in the studied organizations. The project’s importance is partly identified by the organizations themselves and partly motivated by the increasing challenges of extreme events generally. Lastly, there is a clearly identified knowledge gap concerning routines in extreme contexts. In extension, the project’s aim is therefore to contribute to society’s resilience in tackling challenges such as climate change, increased migration and terrorism. Incident command work within the provincial- police, armed forces, Security services, and County administrative board (Västerbotten) is investigated through ethnographic methods covering both extreme events and preparation for these events. Each organization is studied by one member of the research team through interviews, observations and document studies. Through a unique cooperative effort in “Knowledge Forum Region North”, the organizations discuss the challenges of incident command with the research team. The knowledge forum also constitutes a test arena for practical application of the theoretical models provided by the researchers.

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Funding from AFA insurances to study meaningful routines in healthcare

Mattias, Malin and Virginia have received funding (approx 3000 000 kr; 300 000 Euro) from AFA insurances to study meaningful routines in healtcare! Please find the abstract below and more information in the URLs.

It is well-known that organizational routines play a key role in upholding stability and continuity at work. In primary health care, where the influx of patients with various illnesses is extensive and turnover of staff is increasing, well-functioning routines are even more crucial. However, if the routines are not perceived as meaningful, there is a risk that healthcare professionals will deviate from or just ignore them, which could have hazardous consequences for both patients and staff. Meaningfulness has been shown to be important in promoting resilience, and the ability to manage stress, and thereby reduce sick leave, which are current challenges in primary care. The proposed project is thus focused on “meaningful routines” in primary health care. This means routines that not only enable work to be successfully executed but also provide organization members with a sense of meaningfulness, which is an overlooked area of research. The purpose is to advance the understanding of meaningful routines in organizations. Based on in-depth interviews and four rounds of focus groups with primary healthcare professionals, an understanding of what makes routines meaningful will be developed. This knowledge is above all important for making primary health care more sustainable, but also transferable to other organizations where routines are central in order to maintain stability and safety.


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The Dark side of team behavior recognized in Financial Times, Irish time and Weltwoche

David and Markus paper on the Dark side of team behavior, with lessons from The Walking Dead was recognized by Financial times. FT wrote a long nice piece on the lessons that could be learned, after having spoken to Markus too. Later the piece was picked up by Irish Times. Funny enough Weltwoche also contacted us and wanted a piece, which we of course was happy to provide.

Links below:

Financial Times:

Irish Times:





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Accepted for publication – Criminal investigation in rural areas: How police detectives manage remoteness and resource scarcity.

Oscar, Ola, and I had the paper “Criminal investigation in rural areas: How police detectives manage remoteness and resource scarcity” in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. Please find the abstract below:

Abstract: This article addresses how rural environments characterized by remoteness impact the work of police detectives in their casework. It reports on an ethnographic study of two investigative departments (working on volume crime and domestic crime) located in Northern Sweden. Interviews (n=27) and participant observations (n=56) were conducted in order to examine how investigators approached and managed rural conditions in their daily work. Findings indicate that police investigations in rural areas are characterized by constraints such as resource shortages, extended setup-times (due to travelling) and challenges in multitasking. The findings identify two main practices for investigating crime in such settings: “Rural investigation” that entails a decentralized approach in which investigators are embedded locally; and “Investigating the rural” that entails a distanced, centralized approach. This article discusses trade-offs and predicted outcomes in crime investigation and highlights how the urban/rural binary divide encompasses a paradoxical tension that investigators must manage continuously.
Keywords: rural policing, crime investigation, police, volume crime, domestic crime.

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Accepted for publication- The dark side of group behavior: Zombie apocalypse lessons

David Buchanan and my article “The dark side of group behavior: Zombie apocalypse lessons” is accepted for publication in Academy of Management Perspectives ( .


How will groups of survivors behave in a doomsday scenario? Will there be competition for scarce resources? Will they collaborate in reconstruction? We cannot research these questions directly, but we can find clues in four places. First, there are historical examples of apocalyptic events. Second, social identity theory offers explanations of group behavior. Third, there are studies of group dynamics in extreme contexts. We discuss the limitations of those three sources, prompting us to turn to a fictional account in search of ideas. Adopting a narrative theoretical lens, we consider ‘the theory on offer’ in the television series The Walking Dead, which portrays a zombie apocalypse. We find that group behavior is shaped by the nature of survivor group composition, and by the properties of the doomsday context they face. We demonstrate the potential for the emergence of a dark, violent side of group behavior. We illustrate a methodological solution to the problem of researching extreme contexts using ‘speculative fiction’. And we break new ground by exploiting the zombie movie genre, which addresses the ‘failure of imagination’ that can increase society’s vulnerability to unforeseen events. Our analysis has implications for organization theory, and for policy and practice in doomsday scenarios.

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Presentation by Dr Derin Kent on “Temporal uncertainty” in Storm chasing

Today we had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Derin Kent, a postdoc at Aalto University. Derin spoke on some of his past research but quickly dug into the nitty-gritty details of temporal uncertainty, and how teams of storm chasers keep engaged with their situation. This work left important insights into how such temporal teams negotiate order and pace themselves in the highly uncertain world of chasing down tornadoes that can emerge pretty much at any time, anywhere in some parts of the US.

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Presentation by Derin Kent on “Organizing for Temporal Uncertainty: On the road with storm chasers”, 10th of December

You are all invited to what will be a fascinating presentation by Doctor Derin Kent from Aalto University. Derin will be talking about his ethnography with storm chasers, and teamwork under uncertain conditions that epitome the adage of situations swinging between boredom to sheer terror. Derin will be visiting TripleEd during week 50.


WHERE: S 306
WHEN: 10th of December, 13.15 – 15.00
WHO: Anyone that is interested

How do teams engage in temporally uncertain activities, where the work bounces from calm and monotonous to intense and exciting, often unpredictably? Existing management theory emphasizes the organization of time as a coordinating or strategic activity. This view, however, can underestimate groups’ emotional engagement in the temporal dimensions of their work. Its timing, duration, pace, and rhythm can energize and engage organizational participants, or disappoint and disengage them. Based on an ethnographic study of storm chasers in Tornado Alley, we propose that teams coordinate their sense of time in part to maintain role engagement with temporally uncertain tasks. Theorizing temporal organizing as a process of collective role management, we explain our seemingly counterintuitive observations, like storm chasing teams preserving their sense of uncertainty or selecting less plausible expectations about the future. We show how these findings contribute to the literatures on temporality, role engagement, and group culture, and draw practical implications for teams doing temporally uncertain work.

Bio: Derin Kent is a postdoctoral researcher in organization and management at Aalto University School of Business, Finland. He earned his PhD in Management at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada. Kent´s research examines the cultures of groups and organizations working in extreme contexts. He is especially interested in small group processes (like sensemaking and socialization) within organizations in isolated, confined, or extreme settings. To explore these topics, Kent has studied physicians responding to lethal viruses, storm chasers hunting tornadoes, and people restoring their workplaces after terrorism. Kent´s research has been published in Organization Studies, Journal of Business Venturing, and Academy of Management Annals, and has been presented at a variety of international conferences. In addition to research

Research areas: ethnography; extreme contexts; group emotion; identity; organizational culture; sensemaking

Please feel free to distribute this to anyone that you think may be interested!



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Founding “Knowledge Forum Region North”

Recently Knowledge Forum Region North was founded. The aim of the knowledge forum is to share and reflect upon experiences, knowledge, and science, to increase society´s capability to cope with extreme events. Today the Knowledge forum consists of TripleEd, the Police, the Security Police, the military, and the county administrative board of Västerbotten. As we go along other organizations and researchers will be added.

If you´d like to know more or are interested in joining, please contact Markus Hällgren.

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Workshop on Leadership challenges associated with extreme events

There have been some developments that have not been written about… A major thing has been a workshop that TripleEd organized together with the Police, Security Police, the County administrative board of Västerbotten, and the defense forces –  all representing the Northern Region of Sweden.

For half a day we discussed and reflected on our different experiences of extreme events, and how they differed and was similar across the organizations. The day was organized with panel presentations, reflective team seminars, and joint discussions. Based on the feedback from the participants it was appreciated, and we all hope that we will see more of these activities and collaborations across organizations.

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