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Special Issue Call for Papers: Teamwork in Extreme Environments


The editors of the Journal of Organizational Behavior (JOB) will publish a special issue of the journal on the subject of Teamwork in Extreme Environments.

Guest Editors: M. Travis Maynard, Colorado State University; Deanna Kennedy, University of Washington, Bothell; Christian Resick, Drexel University

Background & Rationale for the Special Issue

As teams have become the basic building block of many organizations, understanding the factors that enable organizational teams to perform at optimal levels has become a popular topic within a variety of academic literatures including management and applied psychology (e.g., Mathieu, Maynard, Rapp, & Gilson, 2008). As theoretical and empirical studies across disciplines have demonstrated the value of using teams to address complex and challenging problems, team-based work arrangements have been adopted in a variety of contexts that diverge from the prototypical organizational setting (e.g., Tannenbaum, Mathieu, Salas, & Cohen, 2012). In response, there have been numerous calls for researchers to examine teams “in the wild” (e.g., Burke, Salas, Estep, & Pierce, 2007) to better understand the contextual nuances faced by teams (e.g., Johns, 2006). Likewise, Mathieu and colleagues (2008) advocated that team researchers need to more fully capture and embrace the “complexities of current team arrangements” (pg. 463).

In response, organizational researchers have begun to recognize that situational complexities and nuances need to be more fully incorporated into empirical examinations of teams in the field. More specifically, researchers have used the term “extreme” (e.g., Dahle, 1999) to describe the environments in which some teams operate and include situations such as disaster response (e.g., Rankin, Dahlbäck, & Lundberg, 2013; Wageman, Gardner, & Mortensen, 2012), community building in Afghanistan (Kemp, 2011), polar expedition (e.g., Leon, Sandal, Fink, & Ciofani, 2012), special operations in the military and police contexts (e.g., Bechky & Okhuysen, 2011), healthcare trauma (e.g., Klein, Ziegert, Knight, & Xiao, 2006), mining operations (e.g., Allsop & Wray, 2012), and space exploration (e.g., Keeton, Schmidt, Slack, & Malka, 2012).

Accordingly, this special issue dedicated to the topic of teamwork in extreme environments provides an outlet for researchers in this area to share their cutting-edge research and by doing so, allow for a cross-fertilization of lessons learned from these contexts among the readers of JOB so that they can translate these lessons to all organizational settings. Given the context-specific nature of research involving extreme settings, this special issue is open and receptive to a variety of research approaches to best understand the dynamics present within teams operating in extreme environments. In particular, we are interested in studies that add to the theoretical foundation of organizational teamwork while also generating actionable knowledge that can be applied by practitioners using teams in both extreme and more traditional organizational settings.

Objectives of the Special Issue
• Provide insights about the management of teams within extreme environments.
• Present lessons learned within extreme contexts that are relevant to numerous other contexts that utilize team-based work arrangements. For example, demonstrate how insights about teamwork in extreme environments translates into practical recommendations for traditional organizational teams.
• Share research methodologies (e.g., measurement approaches, quasi-experimental designs) to empirically studying teams in extreme environments.
• Describe the research challenges (sample size, replicability) that have been overcome to obtain teamwork insights.
• Highlight the benefit of studying teams “in the wild” by publishing research findings that might otherwise be missed in other, more controlled environments.

Indicative and illustrative questions that may energize these investigations include:
• What role do time pressures and the fact that teams in extreme environments often face time critical outputs shape team processes?
• Are certain team emergent states (e.g. time-focused mental models, social cohesion, psychological safety, team identity) more salient within extreme environments and is the development of such emergent states different within such environments?
• What factors are most relevant for the composition of teams within extreme environments? For example, does diversity play a different role in extreme contexts?
• What role do factors such as team size, structure, power, group affect, and politics play in shaping team dynamics and effectiveness in extreme environments?
• Are certain leadership functions or approaches more central to achieving superior team performance in extreme vs. traditional environments?
• While numerous theories of team development have been introduced within the broader organizational team literature, do such theories apply within extreme environments or do teams in these settings have unique developmental trajectories?
• Similarly, do traditional teamwork effectiveness models apply within extreme contexts and if not, what changes/revisions are necessary?
• Although there are a variety of interventions that have been suggested for teams, do these interventions have the same effect in extreme environments. Are there interventions that are currently only used in these contexts which could be translated into more traditional organizational environments?
• Similarly, do interventions need to be administered in different ways or at different times within extreme contexts?
• Is team performance viewed differently within extreme environments? For example, is team member well-being weighed more heavily in this context than in others and if so, how does this change the underlying dynamics of teams in extreme environments?

The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2017. Papers to be considered for this special issue should be submitted online via (selecting “Special Issue Paper” as the manuscript type). Please direct questions about the submission process to Prior to the initial submission deadline (January 15, 2017), authors who have questions about a potential project, are encouraged to contact one of the Special Issue Editors:
• Travis Maynard (
• Deanna Kennedy (
• Christian Resick (



Allsop, D., & Wray, D. (2012). The rise and fall of autonomous group working in the British coal mining industry. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 24, 219-232.

Bechky, B. A., & Okhuysen, G. A. (2011). Expecting the unexpected? How SWAT officers and film crews handle surprises. Academy of Management Journal, 54, 239-261.

Burke, C. S., Salas, E., Estep, S., & Pierce, L. (2007). Facilitating team adaptation “in the wild”: A theoretical framework, instructional strategies, and research agenda. In R. Hoffman (Ed.), Expertise out of context (pp. 507-524). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group.

Dahle, C. (1999). Xtreme teams. Forbes. Retrieved from

Johns, G. 2006. The essential impact of context on Organizational Behavior. Academy of Management Review, 31, 386-408.

Keeton, K. E., Schmidt, L. L., Slack, K. J., & Malka, A. A. (2012). The rocket science of teams. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 5, 32-35.

Kemp, R. E. (2011). Provincial Reconstruction Teams in eastern Afghanistan: Utility as a strategic counterinsurgency tool. Military Review, 91, 28.

Klein, K. J., Ziegert, J. C., Knight, A. P., & Xiao, Y. (2006). Dynamic delegation: Shared, hierarchical, and deindividualized leadership in extreme action teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 51, 590-621.

Leon, G. R., Sandal, G. M., Fink, B., & Ciofani, P. (2011). Positive experiences and personal growth in a two-man North Pole expedition team. Environment & Behavior, 43, 710-731.

Mathieu, J.E., Maynard, M.T., Rapp, T.L, & Gilson, L.L. (2008). Team Effectiveness 1997-2007: A review of recent advancements and a glimpse into the future. Journal of Management, 34, 410 - 476.

Rankin, A., Dahlbäck, N., & Lundberg, J. (2013). A case study of factor influencing role improvisation in crisis response teams. Cognition, Technology & Work, 15, 79-93.

Tannenbaum, S. I., Mathieu, J. E., Salas, E., & Cohen, D. (2012). Teams are changing: Are research and practice evolving fast enough? Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 5, 2-24.

Wageman, R., Gardner, H., & Mortensen, M. (2012). The changing ecology of teams: New directions for teams research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 301-315.