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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Markus, Linda Rouleau and Mark de Rond receive “Best paper Award”

The Academy of Management is the largest organization for management and organization scholars. The annual conference has about 12000 participants. During the last conference in Boston Markus, Linda and Mark´s article on Extreme contexts (published in Academy of Management Annals) received the Best paper Award!

(From the left: Daniel Van Knippenberg (editor), Mark De Rond (author), Linda Rouleau (author), Markus Hällgren (author) and Kimberly Elsbach (editor).

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Presentation by Professor Amy Fraher on “Mindfulness in Action”

Today we had the pleasure of listening to Professor Amy Fraher. It was a very big and diverse crowd with people from the Swedish Police, the police education, the department of pedagogy and Department of Business Administration, having the opportunity to learn more about how US Navy SEALs achieve reliability seeking mentality through “Mindfulness in Action”. One of the major takeaways of the paper is the finding that “The SEALs” are not “preoccupied with failure” but rather a “positive orientation towards failure”. As a comment to the paper the editor, Peter Bamberger “…beyond exposing new avenues for theorizing on mindfulness and high-reliability organizations, this paper serves as an important landmark in management research, being the first video ethnography to be published in the Academy of Management’s portfolio of journals.” The presentation can be downloaded here; the link to the paper can be found here.

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