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Team Coordination in Extreme Environments by Cécile Godé

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2Team Coordination: What the Theory of Organizations has to Say

The coordination of various tasks to be completed by teams evokes a founding question of management theories and is a major concern for organizations [MIN 78]. The matter of interest is how a work group comes to allocate resources and tasks, to harmonize actions and orchestrate activities in order to advance toward “collective coherence in the accomplished work” [ALS 07]. Team coordination also refers to the general question of management of interactions between people and activities.

This chapter presents the two main perspectives on coordination in the management science literature: the classical – or contingent – view and the practice-based coordination view. Though often considered antagonistic, we will see that these two perspectives are complementary rather than opposed. The “practical” view notably allows us to go beyond certain limitations of classical theories, particularly when it comes to understanding team coordination in the extreme environment.

2.1. Classical theories of coordination

Classical theories of coordination refer to the contingency view, which is still dominant today. As we will see, this view is rooted in the works of major authors in the field of theory of organizations and offers rigorous analysis of various mechanisms, modes and tools needed for team coordination. Nevertheless, it does not bring complete satisfaction when applied to the study of how teams manage the frequent shifts ...

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