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Managing boundaries at the accident scene – a qualitative study of collaboration exercises

Annika Andersson (Department of Nursing, Health and Culture, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden)
Eric D. Carlstrom (Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg and Department of Nursing, Health and Culture, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, and University West, Trollhättan, Sweden)
Bengt Ahgren (Nordic School of Public Health, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Johan M. Berlin (Department of Social And Behavioural Studies, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 4 March 2014




The purpose of this paper is to identify what is practiced during collaboration exercises and possible facilitators for inter-organisational collaboration.


Interviews with 23 participants from four collaboration exercises in Sweden were carried out during autumn 2011. Interview data were subjected to qualitative content analysis.


Findings indicate that the exercises tend to focus on intra-organisational routines and skills, rather than developing collaboration capacities. What the participants practiced depended on roles and order of arrival at the exercise. Exercises contributed to practicing leadership roles, which was considered essential since crises are unpredictable and require inter-organisational decision making.


The results of this study indicate that the ability to identify boundary objects, such as injured/patients, was found to be important in order for collaboration to occur. Furthermore, lessons learned from exercises could benefit from inter-organisational evaluation. By introducing and reinforcing certain elements and distinct aims of the exercise, the proactive function of collaboration exercises can be clarified.



This study has been funded by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency. The authors would like to thank the participants who took time to contribute to the interviews. The authors would also like to thank police superintendents Lars Lindros and Anders Bjärgård for their practical assistance with transportation and providing us with the ability to follow the exercises.


Andersson, A., D. Carlstrom, E., Ahgren, B. and M. Berlin, J. (2014), "Managing boundaries at the accident scene – a qualitative study of collaboration exercises", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 77-94.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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