Utilizing Task Analysis to Identify Coordination Requirements in Three different Clinical Settings

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Sarah Henrickson Parker of Virginia Tech, Dr. Jan B. Schmutz of ETH Zürich, and Dr. Tanja Manser of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland. They recently published an article in Group and Organization Management entitled “Training Needs for Adaptive Coordination: Utilizing Task Analysis to Identify Coordination Requirements in Three Different Clinical Settings” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Manser speaks about the motivation and challenges of this research:]


What motivated you to pursue this research?

We were interested in understanding general principles of coordination in healthcare teams across different healthcare settings. All of the authors have conducted research in this area for quite some time but usually one study only allows us to study teams in a specific clinical setting. We were interested in seeing if there were any general principles that applied across clinical settings. If so, these could have a much larger impact on the training of healthcare professionals.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

As this was a secondary analysis of existing data, we each had our own challenges with the initial data collection. It is always fun, exciting and challenging to work with healthcare providers in both real and simulated settings. One exciting finding of the current study is the overlap in coordination requirements across clinical settings and tasks. Triggers for re-coordination, anchoring points for coordination, and a deliberate transition from implicit to explicit coordination during unexpected clinical situations were all consistently noted as exemplars of excellent team coordination.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

It is important to immerse yourself in the work context you are studying and to continue to build relationships with those that are doing the work. We believe that the interactions with healthcare providers allow us, as psychologists, to make sure our work is interpreted correctly from a scientific point of view but also relevant and used as intended from an applied point of view. Our experience this requires researchers to be able to speak the language of both clinical care and work psychology.

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The September Issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is Now Online!

The September issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is now available and can be read online for free for the next 30 days. This issue offers a range of astute articles on organizational studies as well as insightful book reviews.

The lead article entitled “Beyond Occupational Differences: The Importance of Cross-cutting Demographics and Dyadic Toolkits for Collaboration in a U.S. Hospital” was authored by Julia DiBenigno and Katherine C. Kellogg both of MIT Sloan School of Management. You can read the abstract here:

ASQ_v59n3_Sept2014_cover.inddWe use data from a 12-month ethnographic study of two medical-surgical units in a U.S. hospital to examine how members from different occupations can collaborate with one another in their daily work despite differences in status, shared meanings, and expertise across occupational groups, which previous work has shown to create difficulties. In our study, nurses and patient care technicians (PCTs) on both hospital units faced these same occupational differences, served the same patient population, worked under the same management and organizational structure, and had the same pressures, goals, and organizational collaboration tools available to them. But nurses and PCTs on one unit successfully collaborated while those on the other did not. We demonstrate that a social structure characterized by cross-cutting demographics between occupational groups—in which occupational membership is uncorrelated with demographic group membership—can loosen attachment to the occupational identity and status order. This allows members of cross-occupational dyads, in our case nurses and PCTs, to draw on other shared social identities, such as shared race, age, or immigration status, in their interactions. Drawing on a shared social identity at the dyad level provided members with a “dyadic toolkit” of alternative, non-occupational expertise, shared meanings, status rules, and emotional scripts that facilitated collaboration across occupational differences and improved patient care.

Click here to access the Table of Contents of the September issue of Administrative Science Quarterly. Want to know about all the latest from Administrative Science Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!