Extreme-Team Research: An Approach to Overcoming Research Obstacles

3729394795_d267b3ef22_zResearching the performance and management of extreme teams, which work in unconventional environments on high-risk tasks, presents a number of unique challenges to researchers, including limitations on data collection and sample sizes. In a new article published in Journal of Managemententitled “An Approach for Conducting Actionable Research with Extreme Teams,” authors Suzanne T. Bell, David M. Fisher, Shanique G. Brown, and Kristin E. Mann set out to develop a research approach that addresses the unique challenges of extreme-team research and allows extreme-team research to be applied broadly across more traditional teams. The abstract for the paper:

Extreme teams complete their tasks in unconventional performance environments and have serious consequences associated with failure. Examples include disaster relief teams, special operations teams, and astronaut crews. The unconventional performance environments within which these teams operate require researchers to carefully consider the context during the research process. These environments may also create formidable challenges to the research process, including constraining data collection and sample sizes. Given the serious consequences associated with failure, however, the challenges must be navigated so that the management of extreme teams can be evidence based. We present an approach for conducting actionable Current Issue Coverresearch on extreme teams. Our approach is an extension of mixed-methods research that is particularly well suited for emphasizing context. The approach guides researchers on how to integrate the local context into the research process, which allows for actionable recommendations. At the same time, our approach applies an intentionally broad framework for organizing context, which can serve as a mechanism through which the results of research on extreme teams can be meaningfully accumulated and integrated across teams. Finally, our approach and description of steps address the unique challenges common in extreme-team research. While developed with extreme teams in mind, we view our general approach as applicable to more traditional teams when the features of the context that impinge on team functioning are not adequately represented by typical descriptions of context in the literature and the goal is actionable research for the teams in question.

You can read “An Approach for Conducting Actionable Research with Extreme Teams” from Journal of Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to keep current on all of the latest research from Journal of ManagementClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Shuttle launch image attributed to The U.S. Army (CC)

Defining and Exploring Boundary Conditions

07ORM13_Covers.inddWhile it is easy to agree that boundary conditions are an important part of theory development and research, it is not as easy for researchers to agree on what boundary conditions are, and how they should be approached. With the recent Organizational Research Methods article entitled, “Boundary Conditions: What They Are, How to Explore Them, Why We Need Them, and What to Consider Them,” authors Christian Busse, Andrew Kach, and Stephan Wagner set out to not only better define boundary conditions, but also understand how exploring boundary conditions can lead to improved research and further theory development.

The abstract for the paper:

Boundary conditions (BC) have long been discussed as an important element in theory development, referring to the “who, where, when” aspects of a theory. However, it still remains somewhat vague as to what exactly BC are, how they can or even should be explored, and why their understanding matters. This research tackles these important questions by means of an in-depth theoretical-methodological analysis. The study contributes fourfold to organizational research methods: First, it develops a more accurate and explicit conceptualization of BC. Second, it widens the understanding of how BC can be explored by suggesting and juxtaposing new tools and approaches. It also illustrates BC-exploring processes, drawing on two empirical case examples. Third, it analyzes the reasons for exploring BC, concluding that BC exploration fosters theory development, strengthens research validity, and mitigates the research-practice gap. Fourth, it synthesizes the analyses into 12 tentative suggestions for how scholars should subsequently approach the issues surrounding BC. The authors hope that the study contributes to consensus shifting with respect to BC and draws more attention to BC.

You can read “Boundary Conditions: What They Are, How to Explore Them, Why We Need Them, and What to Consider Them” from Organizational Research Methods free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Organizational Research Methods? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!


Payal Nangia Sharma on Empowering Leadership Research

GOM 39(6)_Covers.indd[We’re pleased to welcome Payal Nangia Sharma of Rutgers University. Dr. Sharma recently published an article in Group and Organization Management with Bradley L. Kirkman of North Carolina State University entitled “Leveraging Leaders: A Literature Review and Future Lines of Inquiry for Empowering Leadership Research.”]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

We were inspired to write about the topic of empowering leadership given the increasing need for leaders in today’s organizations to rely more and more on involving their employees in work processes, such as decision making, and motivating employees towards higher levels of engagement. In addition, although empowering leadership has many benefits, there is growing research evidence that not all leaders want to empower or that all employees want to be empowered, so we were inspired to help develop scholarly and practical understanding of a more complete picture of the effects of empowering initiatives in work settings.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

Our paper sets the agenda for the next decade on empowering leadership. Based on a set of testable propositions, we first encourage researchers to answer the question of why empowering leadership occurs. Second, we encourage researchers to explore less positive and unintended, negative outcomes of empowering leadership.

The abstract:

We review and synthesize the empowering leadership literature and, as a result, suggest two new provocative lines of inquiry directing future research. Based on a set of testable propositions, we first encourage researchers to answer the question of why empowering leadership occurs. Second, we encourage researchers to explore less positive and unintended, negative outcomes of empowering leadership. To identify opportunities for future work along these two lines, we use four theoretical perspectives including (1) person–situation interactions, (2) followership theory, (3) contingency approaches to leadership, and, (4) the too-much-of-a-good-thing effect. As a result, we set an agenda for the next decade of research on empowering leadership.

You can read “Leveraging Leaders: A Literature Review and Future Lines of Inquiry for Empowering Leadership Research” from Group and Organization Management by clicking here. Did you know that you can have all the latest research from Group and Organization Management sent directly to your inbox? Just click here to sign up for e-alerts!

photo-payal-sharma_0Payal Nangia Sharma is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management and Global Business at Rutgers Business School. She received her PhD degree in Organizational Behavior at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research focuses on examining and understanding the role of positive and negative factors in leadership processes and team member relationships.

MIE-Kirkman-Official_Headshot.sm_Bradley L. Kirkman is the General (Ret.) H. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership and head of the Management, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Department in the Poole College of Management at NC State University. He received his PhD degree in Organizational Behavior from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on leadership, international management, virtual teams, and work team leadership and empowerment.

Using Text Mining for Customer Feedback

[We’re pleased to welcome Francisco Villarroel Ordenes, who is one of five collaborating authors on the article “Analyzing Customer Experience Feedback Using Text Mining: A Linguistics-Based Approach” from Journal of Service Research.]

The Big Data phenomenon is not only about exponential growth of customer data, but about new and challenging data structures such as textual information which require new methods and metrics to facilitate 02JSR13_Covers.inddanalysis. Customer experience feedback, usually found in platforms such as social media, e-mails and feedback forms represents a form of complicated data structure which is challenging organizations to develop new methods for its timely and consistent analysis. Our paper, “Analyzing Customer Experience Feedback Using Text Mining: A Linguistics-Based Approach”, is the result of a collaborative effort between Marketing and Information Systems researchers. We develop a Case Study with a UK service organization which receives more than 10000 comments of customer experience feedback per month. In this context, we design and implement the ARC (Activities, Resources, Context) framework, which is able to automate the analysis of customer feedback through a text mining model. The text mining approach used with this guiding framework is useful for analyzing customer experience feedback with the standard flow of activities (stages) of any service. Due to its flexible evolutionary format we describe it as an ‘open learning model’. Specifically, application of the text mining model within the ARC framework provides efficient and faster analysis of textual information compared with the current manual processes (seconds compared with 2 weeks). The consistency of the information extracted and the specificity of the analysis provided deliver an additional advantage: namely, the practicality of identifying resources or activities that the company can improve immediately. The article provides managers and researchers with a text analytics methodology and application which departs from simple sentiment analysis. Instead a more holistic representation of customer experience feedback in verbatim data is identified, which enables managers to identify what is causing particular sentiment outcomes and thus they can then act to reallocate resources or change processes at an organizational or even customer-specific level.

Read “Analyzing Customer Experience Feedback Using Text Mining: A Linguistics-Based Approach” from Journal of Service Research for free by clicking here. Make sure to click here to sign up for e-alerts and be the first to know all the latest from Journal of Service Research!

s200_francisco.villarroelFrancisco Villarroel Ordenes is a PhD candidate at the Marketing and Supply Chain Management Department at the School of Business Economics in Maastricht University. His research interests include social media conversations, customer experience feedback, sentiment analysis, value cocreation, and the development of text mining methods for marketing research.

publicphoto.ashxBabis Theodoulidis is an associate professor in information management at Manchester Business School, University of Manchester. His research has been published in both science and social science journals such as International Journal Services Technology and Management, Journal of Information Systems, Knowledge Management Research & Practice, Expert Systems with Applications, International Journal of Information Management, International Journal of Data Warehousing and Mining, and Journal of Visual Languages and Computing. His most recent research interests focus on the design of service-based information systems, the temporal and spatial aspects of information, the analysis of information using data and text mining techniques, the visualization of information, and service information management issues within organizations.

jamie.ashxJamie Burton is head of the marketing group and an associate professor in Marketing at Manchester Business School (MBS). He is a research director for MBS’s Customer Management Leadership Group, publishes in a number of journals including the Journal of Marketing Management and the Journal of Service Management and his research interests include customer experience and feedback, transformative service research including service marketing, servitization, relationship marketing, and customer profitability. He is a lead author of a 2013 British Quality Foundation report and is coauthor of Murphy, J. et al. (2006), Converting Customer Value: from Retention to Profit, Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.

Thorsten_GruberThorsten Gruber is a co-director of the Centre for Service Management and a professor of Marketing and Service Management at Loughborough University. His research interests include consumer complaining behavior, services marketing, and the development of qualitative online research methods. His work has been published in journals such as Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Service Management, and Industrial Marketing Management.

MZMohamed Zaki is a research associate at Cambridge Service Alliance, University of Cambridge. His research lies in the field of information governance, business intelligence, and big data analytics. He has many publications in these areas. His experience in the business intelligence/data analytics and service innovation areas enables him to consult in various projects to investigate business intelligence issues in different domains within a service-oriented architecture. Currently, he investigates “How Big data could play a role in improving and optimising services within complex service network organisation” in different sectors such as education, asset heavy, and defense.


Rethinking the Meaning of Meetings


“The World Café is predicated on the importance of conversation, which has been described as a ‘declining art.'”

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Jane Jorgenson and Frederick Steier, both of the University of South Florida, whose article Frames, Framing, and Designed Conversational Processes: Lessons From the World Café” is forthcoming in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.

UntitledThis paper grows out of our interest in Gregory Bateson’s ideas, particularly his concepts of framing and metacommunication, as they surface at the boundary between organizational theory and practice.  We draw examples from two World Café conversations and analyze them through the lens of framing to better understand how these dialogic approaches such as the World Cafe create alternative spaces for questioning assumptions and for “serious play.”

JABS_72ppiRGB_powerpointAn unexpected insight that emerged for us was the realization that the meaning of communicative contexts cannot be legislated by the meeting planners and facilitators. The frames that we, as practitioners, attempt to evoke in a large group dialogue are dynamic and precarious in the sense that participants may bring their own, very different understandings of the situation; sometimes participants challenge the premises of the meeting, thus, “breaking” or altering the frame of the encounter.

We suggest that Bateson’s ideas of framing offer fresh possibilities for enhancing the facilitator’s awareness of the context in which he or she is a participating member. Bateson’s perspective affords an appreciation of the inherent ambiguity and indeterminacy of frames, qualities that can be valuable resources for enhancing a system’s renewal and growth.

Read the paper, Frames, Framing, and Designed Conversational Processes: Lessons From the World Café,” online in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science.

jjorgensonJane Jorgenson is a faculty member in the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida. Her research and teaching interests include organizational communication, the meaning of work, and work-family conflicts. Her current research explores the role of framing in the production of organizational realities. She received her PhD from the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

fsteierFrederick Steier is on the faculty of the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida, where he previously served as Director of Interdisciplinary Studies Programs. He is the editor of the volume, Gregory Bateson: Essays for an ecology of ideas (Imprint Academic, 2005) and is currently enjoying being a scientist-in-residence at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida, USA, where he is involved in participatory action research studies of organizing for collaborative learning and play. He received his doctorate from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Social Systems Sciences.

The Staff Ride: An Approach to Qualitative Data Generation and Analysis

Wendy S. Becker, Shippensburg University, and Michael J. Burke, Tulane University, published “The Staff Ride: An Approach to Qualitative Data Generation and Analysis” on November 9th, 2011 in Organizational Research Methods OnlineFirst Section. To view the other OnlineFirst articles, please click here.

The abstract:

The authors present and illustrate the research staff ride—the re-creation of a historical event for the purpose of understanding organizational phenomena through observation, reflection, and discussion. Staff rides make unique contributions to research through the independent analysis of events outside organizations by content experts who collectively and concurrently reflect on retrospective data while experiencing context. Staff rides involve the examination of ordered sequences of contextually bound events and, thus, promote participants’ understanding of the dependence between past and future observations. In this article, the authors elaborate on the types of data, data collection procedures, and data analyses for research staff rides. Importantly, they discuss potential strengths and challenges associated with staff rides in qualitative research, along with ways to address these challenges.

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Service Improvement and Context

Making Service Improvement Happen: The Importance of Social Context “by Aoife M. McDermott, Cardiff University, Wales, United Kingdom and Mary A. Keating, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, has just been published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science OnlineFirst.

Today, Professors McDermott and Keating discuss their article:

Who is the target audience for this article?

We hope to have a wide audience. The paper may be of interest to academics, while the implications may be of interest to policy-makers and practitioners.

What Inspired You To Be Interested In This Topic?

The Irish hospital sector is complex, comprised of public, private and non-profit organisations. It has recently come through major structural reform, which led to significant policy debate the benefits and downsides of each of these sectors. This sparked our interested in the impact of these different sectoral contexts on change processes and outcomes.

Were There Findings That Were Surprising To You?

The paper is built around a surprising finding – that the organisations with the seemingly most positive environments for change don’t always achieve positive outcomes. We explained this by looking at the role of social context.

How Do You See This Study Influencing Future Research And/Or Practice?

For researchers, we hope this paper illustrates the value of research that explicitly takes account of context – and that looks at the relative influence of different contextual dimensions. We also hope that it will help promote the value of qualitative methodologies in disentangling the individual and configurational influence of dimensions of context.

For managers, the paper draws attention to fact that people can achieve positive service-improvement outcomes, in spite of difficult organizational contexts. To achieve this, the paper identifies the importance of management support and reporting relationships, and draws attention to the benefits of autonomy and flexibility in job design.

For policy-makers, the study suggests a need for further reflection on, and evaluation of, structural reform to achieve change. Our findings suggest that policy makers should, in the first instance, consider how they might positively influence the social context of organizations. Indeed, given the agitating nature of structural change it may serve to further undermine the social context.

How Does This Study Fit Into Your Body Of Work/Line Of Research?

This paper is based on my PhD thesis and, as such, I hope it is the first of a line of significant and high-impact studies! We are fundamentally interested in people-management to achieve service-delivery and change, and enjoy the complexity of the health service context. Building on findings from this study, we, together with Louise Fitzgerald, are now studying the role of the HR function and clinical directorate structures in supporting service-improvement in hospitals.

How Did Your Paper Change During The Review Process?

We received very constructive feedback from the reviewers and editors. This encouraged us to make our contribution more explicit and to significantly develop the implications for research and practice. At the suggestion of one of the reviewers, we also added in a figure which serves to pull the paper together conceptually. We wish we’d initially thought to do this ourselves, but it highlighted the fact that a picture can speak a thousand words.

What, If Anything, Would You Do Differently If You Could Go Back And Do This Study Again?

Given more time and resources, it would have been interesting to also examine strategic changes, to see if the findings also hold up across second order change.

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