Use Team Building to Make the Most of Your Public-Private Partnerships

Use Team Building to Make the Most of Your Public-Private Partnerships

Martin Negron (Independent Researcher, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1837-2.ch007
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Disaster response is a team effort that begins long before any disaster happens. Teams and work group dynamics have been studied by organizational theorists for decades. It is important to recognize and understand the differences and similarities between teams and work groups in order to most effectively use all teams and all team members in all phases of emergency management, particularly in disaster response. This chapter explores how this differentiation, the distinctive features of work groups and teams, can be used in different places and different phases of response to enhance the efficacy of emergency management. And, because public-private partnerships have played and will play an increasingly vital role within emergency management, this chapter discusses how to use the foundation provided by organizational theorists to make the most of public-private partnerships. This chapter discusses how to exploit differences, draw them out, and use them to enhance the response to incidents.
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The National Planning Frameworks establish the context for how the United States of America prepares for, mitigates or prevents, responds to and recovers from a vast array of incidents regardless of size or location, natural or man-made. The National Response Framework (NRF) outlines the overall mission and goals for responding to incidents including emergency support functions (ESF’s). Today, public-private partnerships can play a vital role in how members of communities achieve the response goals outlined in the NRF. Within the NRF the ESF’s specifically delineate which government agencies are responsible for the functions required to respond to incidents, and which agency is the lead agency for specific ESF’s. In addition, the ESF’s delineate private sector roles and responsibilities. However, neither the NRF nor the ESF’s give any specific guidance on how individuals, groups, organizations or companies can or should work together to achieve the mission of responding to incidents.1

Once an incident has occurred, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides guidance on how to manage the response to that specific incident built around the concepts of the ICS and EOC’s.2 The ICS standardizes the organization of individuals responding to incidents and coordinates their activities through a chain-of-command that includes development of a common operating picture and the concept of unity of command. Individuals responding to an incident and assigned to positions throughout the chain of command act together as a work group. Emergency operations centers support multi-agency coordination as well as information sharing, communications, resource management and the support of decision-making. An EOC supports an incident command through strategically planning required resource allocation given the common operating picture developed by an incident commander. This type of strategic planning is more effective when the entities within an EOC operate as a team. Differences between work groups and teams are illustrated in Table 1.

Table 1.
Work groups and teams: similarities and differences
Work GroupsTeams
AccountabilityIndividual accountabilityIndividual and team accountability
Accountable to a managerMembers are mutually accountable to each other
OrientationFulfill narrowly defined dutiesFocus on broader, external needs (e.g. serving customers)
Group members as individualsCognitive and emotional investment of members where they identify themselves as a team
LeadershipAssigned to a single personShared leadership
Work AssignmentsIndividually basedCollective work products
Goals and objectives assignedTeam understands organizational strategy and creates goals and objectives within that context
Organization controlledTeam controlled
MeetingsFocused on efficiencyFocused on open-ended discussion and problem-solving
Discuss, decide, and delegateDiscuss, decide, and engage in collaborative, real-time work
Decision-makingSocial pressures impede divergent thinkingDivergent thinking is encouraged
Group members screen/filter outside informationInformation from outside the team is sought

Note. From A Primer on Organizational Behavior by James L. Bowditch and Anthony F. Buono, 2001, p. 161, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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