WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 103–128 | Cite as

License to intervene: the role of team adaptation in balancing structure and flexibility in offshore operations

  • Jan R. JonassenEmail author
  • Erik Hollnagel


The study reported here reviewed and analyzed multi-team organizations in offshore operations to identify and understand the factors that are essential for good operation. It was found that the most prominent contribution to good operations was the balancing of structure and flexibility during work (anchor handling operations). The enabling factor towards this balance seems to be a process of team adaptation, including adjustments and corrections, when performing operations. The multi-teams operate in an open climate with a commonly accepted allowance to stop any safety-threatened operational activity. In practice, this gives the operational teams a “license” to intervene and adjust or adapt to suddenly occurring anomalies. The operations are in turn based on a period of planning and preparing. During the actual balancing, the teams relied on communication and information sharing, coordination and cooperation, and anticipation (proactive behavior) and empowerment/autonomy as effective enablers of team adaptation.


Leadership Safety Resilience Adjustments Multi-team Proactivity 



We want to thank the Research Council of Norway and nine companies in the petromaritime industries in Norway for having funded the RISKOP project (grant no.: 225311/O80) where this research is a part. The project covers research on risk and safety in offshore operations and is cofounded and managed by The Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Our acknowledgements to our colleagues for useful comments during the RISKOP research workshop in May 2017: Helen Sampson, SIRC/Cardiff University, Rhona Flin, University of Aberdeen, Ole Andreas Engen, University of Stavanger, Richard Bagozzi, University of Michigan, Silvia Jordan, University of Innsbruck, Kari Skarholt and Gunnar Lamvik, both SINTEF, Norway and colleagues at Western University of Applied Sciences: Bjarne Vandeskog, Idar Alfred Johannessen, Chunyan Xie, Guro Fjeld, Lene Jørgensen, and Erik Mygind du Plessis. The authors are also grateful to the competent staff of the University’s library and IT department for assistance concerning formatting and reference check. Further, we thank our two anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier versions.


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Copyright information

© World Maritime University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Norway University of Applied SciencesHaugesundNorway
  2. 2.Høgskulen på VestlandetBergenNorway
  3. 3.Patient Safety at Jönköping UniversityJönköpingSweden
  4. 4.NivåDenmark

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