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Mindfulness in action: discovering how U.S. Navy seals build capacity for mindfulness in High-Reliability Organizations (HROs)

Mindfulness in action: discovering how U.S. Navy seals build capacity for mindfulness in High-Reliability Organizations (HROs)
Mindfulness in action: discovering how U.S. Navy seals build capacity for mindfulness in High-Reliability Organizations (HROs)
This study of US Navy Sea Air and Land (SEAL) commandos contributes to research investigating mindfulness in high-reliability organizations (HROs) by identifying the individual and collective influences that allow SEALs to build capacity for mindful behaviors despite the complexity of their missions, the unpredictability of their operating environments, and the danger inherent in their work. Although the HRO literature identifies a number of hallmarks of reliability, less attention is paid to how mindfulness is operationally achieved in situ by individuals on the frontline working in HROs. This study addresses this gap using a multiphase, multimethod investigation of US Navy SEALs, identifying new links between individual mindfulness attributes (comfort with uncertainty and chaos) and collective mindfulness influences (a positive orientation towards failure) that combine to co-create a phenomenon we call “mindfulness in action.” Mindfulness in action occurs when HROs achieve an attentive yet flexible focus capable of incorporating multiple—sometimes competing—realities to assess alternative solutions and take action in dynamic situations. By providing a more nuanced conceptualization of the links between individual mindfulness attributes and collective mindfulness influences, this paper opens up new avenues of discovery for a wide range of reliability-seeking organizations. For supporting media please see https://vimeo.com/153223681.

As a journal dedicated to using data to surface and generate plausible explanations for emergent or poorly understood organizational phenomena, processes, and relations, AMD strives to help authors get the most from their data. This paper by Fraher, Branicki, and Grint offers a wonderful example of how the AMD review process can help authors “dig deeper” to expose and leverage the “gems” in their data that ultimately benefit us all by offering surprising insights that are key to the development of new theories and more nuanced downstream theorizing. But beyond exposing new avenues for theorizing on mindfulness and high-reliability organizations, this paper serves as an important landmark in management research, being the first video ethnography to be published in the Academy of Management’s portfolio of journals. On behalf of the editorial team, we hope to see more scholars take advantage of AMD’s advanced media capabilities as a means by which to expand the breadth and depth of discovery in management and organizational science.
239-261
Fraher, Amy L.
5c2ad136-717b-43b1-be85-c7a970f85116
Branicki, Layla Jane
24afa611-cf99-48ec-8453-72ccc1732c24
Grint, Keith
8e55caae-6c01-44b1-8b94-3bcd365ff6c2
Fraher, Amy L.
5c2ad136-717b-43b1-be85-c7a970f85116
Branicki, Layla Jane
24afa611-cf99-48ec-8453-72ccc1732c24
Grint, Keith
8e55caae-6c01-44b1-8b94-3bcd365ff6c2

Fraher, Amy L., Branicki, Layla Jane and Grint, Keith (2017) Mindfulness in action: discovering how U.S. Navy seals build capacity for mindfulness in High-Reliability Organizations (HROs). Academy of Management Discoveries, 3 (3), 239-261. (doi:10.5465/amd.2014.0146).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This study of US Navy Sea Air and Land (SEAL) commandos contributes to research investigating mindfulness in high-reliability organizations (HROs) by identifying the individual and collective influences that allow SEALs to build capacity for mindful behaviors despite the complexity of their missions, the unpredictability of their operating environments, and the danger inherent in their work. Although the HRO literature identifies a number of hallmarks of reliability, less attention is paid to how mindfulness is operationally achieved in situ by individuals on the frontline working in HROs. This study addresses this gap using a multiphase, multimethod investigation of US Navy SEALs, identifying new links between individual mindfulness attributes (comfort with uncertainty and chaos) and collective mindfulness influences (a positive orientation towards failure) that combine to co-create a phenomenon we call “mindfulness in action.” Mindfulness in action occurs when HROs achieve an attentive yet flexible focus capable of incorporating multiple—sometimes competing—realities to assess alternative solutions and take action in dynamic situations. By providing a more nuanced conceptualization of the links between individual mindfulness attributes and collective mindfulness influences, this paper opens up new avenues of discovery for a wide range of reliability-seeking organizations. For supporting media please see https://vimeo.com/153223681.

As a journal dedicated to using data to surface and generate plausible explanations for emergent or poorly understood organizational phenomena, processes, and relations, AMD strives to help authors get the most from their data. This paper by Fraher, Branicki, and Grint offers a wonderful example of how the AMD review process can help authors “dig deeper” to expose and leverage the “gems” in their data that ultimately benefit us all by offering surprising insights that are key to the development of new theories and more nuanced downstream theorizing. But beyond exposing new avenues for theorizing on mindfulness and high-reliability organizations, this paper serves as an important landmark in management research, being the first video ethnography to be published in the Academy of Management’s portfolio of journals. On behalf of the editorial team, we hope to see more scholars take advantage of AMD’s advanced media capabilities as a means by which to expand the breadth and depth of discovery in management and organizational science.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 17 December 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 29 December 2016
Published date: 1 September 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 428181
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/428181
PURE UUID: bbc5e69d-d500-4223-8cc3-04853e4c358a
ORCID for Amy L. Fraher: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2093-5164

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 Feb 2019 17:30
Last modified: 09 May 2020 00:45

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