Van Thielen, Decramer, Vanderstraeten & Audenaert – When does performance management foster team effectiveness? A mixed‐method field study on the influence of environmental extremity

Organizations operating in extreme environments rely on teams to tackle the highly demanding and complex situations. This study aims to provide new insights into the management of such teams by exploring the influence of environmental extremity on the relationship between performance management and team effectiveness. Mixed‐method and multilevel analyses of police teams working in different levels of environmental extremity suggest that environmental extremity moderates the rela- tionship between performance management features and team effectiveness. Both the vertical alignment of performance management and constructive feedback have a positive effect on team effectiveness. However, these positive effects are constrained in teams working in heightened levels of environmental extremity. The effects of performance management consistency and two‐way communication on team effectiveness are more nuanced and dependent on environmental extremity. When teams operate in heightened levels of environmental extremity, both features are positively related to team effectiveness. When teams operate in lower levels of environmental extremity, performance management consistency is not significantly related to team effectiveness and two‐way communication is negatively related to team effectiveness. These results provide a nuanced understanding of how perfor- mance management engenders team effectiveness in extreme environments.


EGOS sub-plenary on “Institutions in troubled times and places”

Please observe that there is a sub-plenary dedicated to “Institutions in troubled times and places” organized at @EGOS in Tallinn that is very relevant to our research interests! Please find the description below, the full flier at the bottom.

WHEN: Thursday, July 5th; 14:00-15:30

Chair panelists are Renate E. Meyer (WU Vienna, Austria), Mark de Rond (University of Cambridge, UK), Charlotte Karam (American University of Beirut, Lebanon) & Marc Ventresca (University of Oxford, UK)


In troubled times and places, such as war, refugee crisis, terrorist or cyber-attacks, or other conflicts, our standard forms of organizing and institutionalized patterns of coordination are challenged, our cultural tool kit seems outdated and limited in offering swift response, and our learned roles and identities fail to provide appropriate scripts. In this sub-plenary we question the meaning and role of institutions in such troubled times and places, and discuss whether our organization theories, and institutional theory in particular, ‘work’ in these unstable contexts, allowing to comprehend and address their needs. We ask what an institutional lens can contribute to studying such contexts and also to engaging with the concerns of those involved in them on a practical level. The sub-plenary panel will discuss challenges of conducting research, such as difficulties of data collection and ethical dilemmas, implications for theorizing, e.g. its boundary conditions and possibilities for practical relevance, and potential for mitigating practical concerns of people immersed in such contexts.

To start and frame the debate, Mark de Rond will talk about practical and ethical issues of doing fieldwork in difficult contexts and the ‘usefulness’ of an institutional perspective. Charlotte Karam will talk about the challenges of doing research on emergent crises in the context of protracted instability, emphasizing the need to better theorize the salience of informality, and, from a more practical perspective, the need to more closely consider the ethical considerations of “research waste”. Marc Ventresca will consider complex institutional contexts as settings for research activity and how these contexts both change research practice and conduce to the focus on inhabited institutions.


Link to EGOS page

SWG for EGOS submitted

Thank you everyone that have supported the initiate to make #extremecontexts to a Standing Working Group at EGOS. We are overwhelmed by the support, 99 researchers from all the world took the time to help out! Really appreciate your help! Now we can only but trust the process, keep your fingers crossed!


International Conference: 


Barcelona, 10-12 December 2018

The conference is an international event which aim is discussing in a multidisciplinary way the need for a more integrated and inclusive approach to design and manage urban resilience, addressing climatic, environmental, socio-economic challenges while minimizing trade-offs among them, and maximizing synergies between resilience and sustainability. It has been organized by the Urban Resilience research Network URNet, the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya UIC and UN HABITAT City Resilience Profiling Program and supported from international partners as ICLEI, the 100RC, METROPOLIS, the Global Alliance for Urban Crises, the IUCN and many others working and promoting city resilience and sustainability.

Deadline for Abstracts and Panels submissions – 30 May 2018

Researchers, practitioners, multilateral agencies, civil society and city-to-city learning networks will collectively shape debates around how to critically understand and integrate different urban resilience implementation perspectives, contributing to more holistic and inclusive urban resilience approaches. This could be done through panel or individual presentations, and the conference accepts long papers (contributions aiming at been published in the peer reviewed international journals supporting the conference) or short papers (blog posts, to be published and disseminated through our partners websites)

Please look through the topics (and feel free to follow them, or introduce broader, more integrated, or different issues not addressed within those topics too) and we are looking forward to receive your contributions and meet you in person in Barcelona

The organizing committee

Prof. Carmen Mendoza

Dr. Lorenzo Chelleri

Dr. Raquel Colacios

REPORT:: Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking

A new global study by BSI (British Standards Institution) and Cranfield School of Management, finds that business leaders are struggling to balance risk with opportunity, threatening the long-term survival of their firms. The report, “Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking”, assesses half a century’s accepted wisdom on best-practice management, identifying an acute need for firms to embrace risk if they are to survive and thrive.

TEACHING RESOURCE: K2 – against all odds

A simulation on mindful leadership, based on the Events on K2 in 2008 developed at Cranfield University by the Leading Complex Change group and TripleEd at Umeå university.

K2, sometimes called Savage Mountain, is located on the Pakistan-China border.  It has the highest fatality rate of any mountain in the world, with approximately one in four climbers not making it back alive. One of the challenges of K2 is its sustained technical difficulty; its face is characterised by more than 45 degree angles with a rocky and icy surface, combined with sudden life-threatening changes in weather conditions. Climbers assemble at the base camp to attempt to summit this majestic mountain each year, typically between June and August.

Clearly most managers do not face challenges of this magnitude in their day-to-day work. However, by looking at such extremes we can identify concepts that can be applied valuably in more benign environments.

Johansson et al (2018) – At the external boundary of a disaster response operation: The dynamics of volunteer inclusion

In the present article, practices of inclusion of different types of volunteers in the response to a large-scale forest fire in Sweden are studied. Semi- structured interviews were conducted with three types of voluntary actors. The volunteers were organized to different degrees, from members of organizations and participants in emergent groups to organizationally unaffiliated individuals. Organized volunteers were the most easily included, particularly if they were members of voluntary emergency organizations. It was difficult for volunteers lack- ing relevant organizational affiliation to be included. Disaster response operations are dynamic, conditions change over time, and tensions between different modes, degrees, and levels of inclusion may arise. However, irrespective of changing con- ditions, practices of inclusion of highly organized volunteers work best.

Free access here

Baird – Dancing with danger: ethnographic safety, male bravado and gang research in Colombia

Interesting piece on doing fieldwork in dangerous environments…

This article considers the dilemmas and challenges of conducting fieldwork with youth gang members in Medellín, Colombia. It draws upon the author’s experiences to develop the notion of ‘ethnographic safety’, where researchers learn to perceive and avert danger by gaining a ‘feel for the rules of the game’ (Bourdieu, 1992) in violent communities; it problematizes the role that the researcher’s gender and ‘male bravado’ played in accessing and interviewing gang members; considers the ethical conundrums of building rapport with criminal subjects; and discusses the challenges of working in complex, chronically violent communities where there are no simple dichotomies between victims and perpetrators of violence.

Kutsch – The Art of Organisational Resilience – revisiting the Fall of France in 1940

On 10 May 1940, Hitler’s Germany commenced their offensive in the West with the invasion of Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. Just three days later, the Nazis crossed the River Meuse, triggering the collapse of the Allied Forces. The Fall of France in May-June 1940 at the hands of Nazi Germany was one of the great surprises of the 20th century. The reason for this overwhelming and shock military defeat lends itself to renewed analysis from a management perspective.

Key Facts

  • It is commonly believed that the application of armoured “Blitzkrieg” decided this military encounter. However, this is widely a held but false belief.

Impact of our research

It is not uncommon to learn from cases that are unusual, special or extreme in some way. The context of this specific military campaign offers an extreme background to develop leadership and strategic thinking.

The defeat of France by Nazi Germany in May 1940 can be considered as a real-life David versus Goliath story. The inferior party prevails in a stunning, puzzling manner over a force that was considered ‘invincible’ at that time. However, it is less a question of what resources are at your disposal, but whether you can out-manage or out-smart your opponent. In management speak, how to intelligently manage an environment characterised by Uncertainty, Volatility, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA).

Why the research was commissioned

The study of history should be, as Clausewitz suggested, “meant to educate the mind of the future commander, or, more accurately, to guide him in his self-education, not to accompany him to the battlefield; just as a wise teacher guides and stimulates a young man’s intellectual development, but is careful not to lead him by the hand for the rest of his life.” Military encounters can give insight into major management issues not because they are directly relevant to day-to-day organisational issues, but because they offer managers the chance to explore extreme examples and identify key points that they can take back to their own work. Each one may find different points that are relevant to their own context, but dealing with uncertainty and working out how to deal with strong competitors in a fast-moving environment are issues that most organisations can identify with. It is a thought-provoking case that resonates with many of today’s challenges.