Team Culture in Challenging Environments: Prof. Mark de Rond

Season 2, Episode 5,   Mar 08, 2021, 11:19 AM

Over 20 years ago I spend 2 years carrying out an ethnographic study of a psychiatric hospital in London. This was for my PhD in Social Anthropology. To gain ethical approval for my research, I became a member of staff and worked as a nursing assistant. By working the shifts I was able to get a feel of the daily rhythm of the hospital and how the often laten aspects of everyday culture shaped behaviour and perceptions around team work, care, policy and power. I was also able to experience and understand some of the key elements that made nursing and medical teams form in different environments; from when the wards were calm to when teams had to work as units when there were challenging periods on the wards.
Understanding how teams can work in challenging environments can help us learn more about the culture of teams in general; what are the driving forces that make a team connect and become high performing and what elements of team work challenge unity?
To help me unpack this further I spoke to Professor Mark de Rond, who is Professor of Organisational Ethnography at Cambridge Judge Business School, Cambridge University. Mark shares with me his experience of carrying out ethnographic research in Camp Bastion, which was a British Army base in Afghanistan. Mark’s area of focus was on the military medical team. He shares fascinating insights around how teams manage periods that demand focus, compared to periods which are less busy. He also describes the subtle cultural elements of teams that shape their identity.
We also discuss the growing influence of ethnography in business schools. 
This episode is the first of two with Mark. Episode 6 will focus on work place conflict; what causes it, how can we understand it and how can we manage it, especially when many of us are either working from home and/or having to work through the pandemic. Mark and I are both trained in work place mediation, so this, with our ethnographic and culture hats on provides some interesting listening. In the second episode you will also hear where Mark will take is anthropologist’s notebook.

Show Notes:

Cambridge Judge Business School
There is an I in Team (video)
There is an I in Team (book)
Doctor's at War (book)

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