Managing Team Leadership Challenges in Integrated Operations

Managing Team Leadership Challenges in Integrated Operations

Sjur Larsen (NTNU Social Research, Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2002-5.ch007
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This chapter gives an empirically based account of leadership of teamwork in Integrated Operations settings, or “IO teamwork” as it is termed here. First, a brief presentation of the characteristics of IO teamwork and its leadership is provided. Then follows an overview of relevant theoretical perspectives to the study of team leadership in IO settings. Next, central challenges regarding leadership of IO teamwork are discussed, and empirical examples of how leaders of IO teams go about managing these challenges are provided. Finally, directions for future research in this area are given.
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What Characterizes “Io Teamwork” And Its Leadership?

Due to the sparsity of the research on the topic, there is currently no consensus regarding what characterizes “IO teamwork.” However, based on current knowledge, there are some typical traits that can be listed:

  • Teamwork is regularly technology-mediated

  • Team members have different and complementary competencies

  • Team members are from different disciplines, cultures and organizations

  • Safety implications are normally important in decision processes

  • Some team members are regularly exchanged (typically offshore, depending on the shift schedules)

  • They tend to comprise both onshore and offshore team members1

It should be clear from the definition above that leading such teams is of a comparatively high degree of complexity. “Leadership” is here defined as involving “intentional influence over others, through guiding, structuring and facilitating activities and relationships in a group or organization” (Thompson & Li, 2010, p. 16). There is little research available on how leadership of such teams differ from leadership of more traditional forms of teamwork. One of the informants in a study on which this chapter is based characterized leadership of IO teamwork in the following way:

In my view leadership of integrated operations is more related to things going fast. Otherwise it is much of the same. When you have the time for discussions and processes, you need to have completed those discussions and processes when you are gathered and need to make decisions…I think IO is very similar to other tasks. What is challenging is that people are sitting at different locations, one is sitting in different contexts, and we have the shift system with some working two weeks and having four weeks off. And then we the experts who are to give our contributions. That is an organzational challenge (discipline leader in charge of production optimization activities).

The purpose of teamwork in an IO mode is to take advantage of geographically distributed and multiple expertise in real time, supported by various technologies, to avoid the inefficiencies that often come with sequential collaboration, i.e., with team members contributing with their competence at different points in time.

This chapter will provide further details of particular challenges of team leadership in IO settings, with suggestions of how they can be managed. First, a review of relevant theoretical perspectives to the study of team leadership in IO settings will be provided.

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