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Staff acting resiliently at two hospital wards

Bettina Ravnborg Thude (Department of Centre for Quality, Region Syddanmark Center for Kvalitet, Middelfart, Denmark)
Andreas Granhof Juhl (Institute for Communications, Århus Universitet, Aarhus N, Denmark)
Egon Stenager (Department of Neurology, Hospital of Southern Jutland, Focused Research Unit in Neurology, Aabenraa, Denmark)
Christian von Plessen (Department of Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg, Denmark)
Erik Hollnagel (Department of Patient Safety, University of Jönköping, Jönköping, Sweden)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 12 July 2019

Issue publication date: 12 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to understand how the hospital staff (nurses and physicians) at two hospital wards have coped with everyday work having leaders in conflict or longer periods without one or the other leader and whether the way the staff handled the challenges was resilient.


Through semi-structured interviews with the staff at the two wards, the authors analysed how the staff were working, if they had cooperation and interdisciplinary cooperation, how they would handle uncertainties and how they coped with the absence of their leaders.


The staff at both wards were handling the everyday work in a resilient way. The authors argue that to increase the resilience in an organisation, leaders should acknowledge the need to establish strong emotional ties among staff and at the same time ensure role structures that make sense in the everyday work.


This study reports on original work and shows what decision makers could do to increase resilience in an organisation. This paper shows that the organisational context is important for the staff to act resiliently. As leaders come and go, it can be important for the stability of the organisation to promote the staff in acting resiliently independent of the leader situation.



Thude, B.R., Juhl, A.G., Stenager, E., von Plessen, C. and Hollnagel, E. (2019), "Staff acting resiliently at two hospital wards", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 445-457.



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