Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace
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Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace

Management Challenges and Symptoms

Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski

A work exposing and exploring the phenomena of the dysfunctional workplace is long overdue. This fascinating book does just that, uncovering the subversiveness, counter-productive behaviour and unspoken ‘issues’ that managers struggle with on a daily basis.
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Chapter 18: When Teams Fail in Organizations: What Creates Teamwork Breakdowns?

Dana E. Sims and Eduardo Salas


Dana E. Sims and Eduardo Salas Days before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center issued warnings of the projected devastation of life and property. Ultimately, the warnings did nothing to prevent the ultimate failure to adequately prepare for and respond to the storm by local, state and federal agencies. Hurricane Katrina was not the largest hurricane to strike the USA, nor was it the first time that a hurricane of this magnitude reached the Gulf Coast. Despite this, reports of communication failures, breakdowns in leadership, poor decision making and a lack of situational awareness suggest the response to one of the USA’s largest natural disasters was also one of the largest breakdowns of teamwork compounding the devastation of the Gulf Coast (CBS News, 2006; McClatchy Washington Bureau, 2005). The emergency response to Hurricane Katrina is a poignant example of how even expert teams with needed resources and expertise available at the tip of their fingers can fail. The question then arises, what creates teamwork breakdowns? Insights afforded by a century of team theory and empirical research suggest ‘chemistry’ is undoubtedly a critical building block of successful teams. It is the ‘chemistry’ that exists between team members, their leaders and their organizational environment that can tip the scales from success to failure. It has long been understood that when teams gel, they are capable of accomplishments that no individual could hope to achieve. But what does it take to get the ‘chemistry’ within the team correct...

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