What distinguishes successful medical teams from their less successful counterparts?

Many results from the past years have shown that substandard team-work can have dramatic consequences or even lead to the loss of life. Good team-work, on the other hand, can greatly increase patient safety. The identification of mechanisms contributing to successful medical teams is highly relevant for theory and practice alike.

We have performed various studies investigating team coordination and leadership in cooperation with the ETH Zurich. Our results show that explicit (open, clear, direct) as well as implicit (silent, indirect) coordination mechanisms are important for team performance. While the relationship between explicit coordination and performance seems linear, the relationship between implicit coordination and team performance seems more complex, for example affected by shared mental models and specific patterns of interaction. We conclude that members of a team can generally be encouraged to coordinate explicitly, as this seems to directly improve performance, while implicit coordination should be employed with care, as it seems to depend on various variables and requirements. Hence explicit mechanisms such as the creation of routines for questioning implicit assumptions, and the updating of shared mental models, can offer a solution.

Team dynamics projects:


​Advancing team science by social sensor-based measurement

​Principle Investigator: PD Dr. Michaela Kolbe, Co-Investigators: Dr. Bastian Grande, Dr. Michael Burtscher (UZH)

[Grant Nr. 177069]


​Debriefings as Enabler for Learning in Ad-hoc Action Teams in Healthcare

​Principle Investigator: PD Dr. Michaela Kolbe. Co-Investigator: Dr. Bastian Grande. Employee: Dr. Julia Seelandt.

(grant number 100014_152822)


​Combined technical and non-technical skills training for managing unanticipated difficult intubations

​Princple investigator: Prof. Dr. Gudela Grote (ETH Zurich). Co-investigator: Prof. Dr. Donat R. Spahn. Employees: Dr. Bastian Grande, Dr. Michaela Kolbe, Mona Weiss, Carl Schick.

(grant number 100014_138545)



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