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J Eval Clin Pract. 2008 Aug;14(4):569-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2007.00919.x. Epub 2008 May 2.

The 20-minute team--a critical case study from the emergency room.

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Göteborg University, School of Public Administration, Göteborg, Sweden.



In this article, the difference between team and group is tested empirically. The research question posed is How are teams formed? Three theoretical concepts that distinguish groups from teams are presented: sequentiality, parallelism and synchronicity. The presumption is that groups cooperate sequentially and teams synchronously, while parallel cooperation is a transition between group and team.


To answer the question, a longitudinal case study has been made of a trauma team at a university hospital. Data have been collected through interviews and direct observations. Altogether the work of the trauma team has been studied for a period of 5 years (2002-2006).


The results indicate that two factors are of central importance for the creation of a team. The first is related to its management and the other to the forms of cooperation. To allow for a team to act rapidly and to reduce friction between different members, clear leadership is required.


The studied team developed cooperation with synchronous elements but never attained a level that corresponds to idealized conceptions of teams. This is used as a basis for challenging ideas that teams are harmonious and free from conflicts and that cooperation takes place without friction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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