Working in dangerous contexts: conceptualising leadership in emergency response team

Knox, Merrel (2019) Working in dangerous contexts: conceptualising leadership in emergency response team. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores processes of leadership in UK public sector Emergency Response teams. Leadership has received much attention as a field of study, predominantly in the standard organisational context with an emphasis on the functional approaches leaders use to manage situations. In conventional operation, the organisational context is characterised by relatively low levels of ambiguity, and where there is information, resource and time available to enable adaptive responses.

In comparison to this, few studies have focused on leadership in dangerous contexts, characterised by high levels of complexity, where ambiguity is high, and resources and time are constrained. Emergency response teams such as police, fire and ambulance, continuously face dangerous situations to their personnel and the public. The focus of this study is on specialist operational teams within the emergency services that particularly respond to dangerous incidents. Emergency response teams such as police firearms, hazardous area response and fire service teams are collectively tasked with understanding their environment and co-creating adaptive leadership response strategies.

This doctoral study contributes to leadership theory in dangerous contexts. This thesis is informed by a social constructionist epistemology, and interpretivist philosophy. The focus of the empirical study is on understanding the constructed meaning of leadership and leadership processes of individuals who operate in dangerous contexts, within emergency response teams. The data collection method used for the study is a series of focus groups, involving sixty-one participants, adopting a thematic analysis approach and applying the principles of progressive focussing.

This thesis contributes to leadership theory by conceptualising leadership as a complex dynamic and fluid process, specifically in relation to emergency response teams operating in dangerous contexts. This thesis proposes a new framework for understanding leadership for teams working in dangerous environments. It explores the complexity of leadership processes and highlights how fluid leadership as a core element can inform team training and team development.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fluid leadership, Shared leadership, Processes of leadership, Stages of a dangerous incident, Contextual ambiguity and uncertainty
Subjects: N100 Business studies
N200 Management studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2020 07:56
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2020 08:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/43801

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