The front- and backstage of emergency decision-making

The front- and backstage of emergency decision-making

Time for another work-in-progress manuscript based on data from the tripleED project, so please bring your constructive ‘A-game’ next week. This paper is written by yours truly together with Martin Svensson.

As you might know, Martin is an Assistant Professor at Blekinge Institute of Technology, and a Postdoc researcher at USBE. He holds degrees in psychology, in economic information systems and a PhD in industrial economics. His research interest mainly concerns judgment and decision-making under uncertain and ambiguous conditions, such as within high reliability organizations, entrepreneurial economies, and settings aiming for development of radical innovation capabilities.

If you are interested, you can find his thesis here.

The full paper, which we have given the sassy titled, “Rationalizing emotions and emotionalizing reason:The front- and backstage of emergency decision-making”, will be distributed via email.


Purpose: To describe and analyze how a medical decision-making process unfolds, is staged, and shaped by contextual prerequisites.

Approach: The data, which consists of more than 200 hours of participant observation, document collection, and semi-structured interviews, was analyzed from a process perspective by using a template-based approach.

Findings: Two interrelated decision logics are revealed — a backstage and front-stage logic. The two logics have their underpinnings in dualistic assumptions of traditional decision-making literature, but are context dependent enactments rather than being based on information processing and individual capabilities. The logics facilitate Doctors possibility and ability to justify and stage decisions.

Practical implications: Given the contextual focus we emphasize that the different ED-spaces, such as the triage setting, may affect both accuracy of decision-making and perceptions of service.

Social implications: The findings explain how Doctors may uphold a professional role, under both institutional and individual decision-making pressures, but also create a sense of public security to meet the widespread expectations of healthcare being a ‘precise science’.

Value: The study advances our understanding beyond a dualistic and intrapersonal emotion versus rationality dichotomy by emphasizing decisions as blends of non-reason and reason- based process by enclosing interpersonal and contextual conditions. Such a contextualization is valuable as it increases understanding of that decision-making processes is about more than providing “the right” answer.