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Speaking Up in the Operating Room: How Team Leaders Promote Learning in Interdisciplinary Action Teams


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  • Amy C. Edmondson
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    This paper examines learning in interdisciplinary action teams. Research on team effectiveness has focused primarily on single-discipline teams engaged in routine production tasks and, less often, on interdisciplinary teams engaged in discussion and management rather than action. The resulting models do not explain differences in learning in interdisciplinary action teams. Members of these teams must coordinate action in uncertain, fast-paced situations, and the extent to which they are comfortable speaking up with observations, questions, and concerns may critically influence team outcomes. To explore what leaders of action teams do to promote speaking up and other proactive coordination behaviours - as well as how organizational context may affect these team processes and outcomes - I analysed qualitative and quantitative data from 16 operating room teams learning to use a new technology for cardiac surgery. Team leader coaching, ease of speaking up, and boundary spanning were associated with successful technology implementation. The most effective leaders helped teams learn by communicating a motivating rationale for change and by minimizing concerns about power and status differences to promote speaking up in the service of learning. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Management Studies.

    Volume (Year): 40 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 6 (09)
    Pages: 1419-1452

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:6:p:1419-1452

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    Cited by:
    1. van Riel, C.B.M. & Berens, G.A.J.M. & Dijkstra, M., 2005. "The Influence of Employee Communication on Strategic Business Alignment," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2005-060-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    2. Lisbeth Brøde Jepsen, 2013. "Information Sharing in a New Product Development Project - The Role of Core Actors," Working Papers 115/13, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Environmental and Business Economics.
    3. Hsin-Hua Hsiung, 2012. "Authentic Leadership and Employee Voice Behavior: A Multi-Level Psychological Process," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 349-361, May.
    4. David Whiteside & Laurie Barclay, 2013. "Echoes of Silence: Employee Silence as a Mediator Between Overall Justice and Employee Outcomes," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 116(2), pages 251-266, August.
    5. Doherty, Carole & Saunders, Mark N.K., 2013. "Elective surgical patients' narratives of hospitalization: The co-construction of safety," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 29-36.
    6. Li-Yueh Lee & Veasna Sou, 2013. "The Antecedents of Innovation Climate: Cross-Level Mediation Perspectives," Diversity, Technology, and Innovation for Operational Competitiveness: Proceedings of the 2013 International Conference on Technology Innovation and Industrial Management, ToKnowPress.
    7. Hassan Jorfi & Hashim Fauzy Bin Yaccob & Ishak Mad Shah, 2011. "The Relationship between Demographics Variables, Emotional Intelligence, Communication Effectiveness, Motivation, and Job Satisfaction," International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, vol. 1(1), pages 38-62, April.


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