Norbert Steigenberger, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping University, Sweden

Thomas Luebcke, M.A.

German Maritime Search and Rescue Service – DGzRS



We present a paper that develops novel theory on how core actors coordinate actions of distal actors in organizational routines. While core actors have experience in executing the routine, distal actors do not. We explore micro-level practices core actors use to tie distal actors into the overall routine performance to ensure robust routine performances. We use unique video, photo, and written ethnographic data from live maritime search and rescue (SAR) missions, where an experienced SAR crew saved refugees in the Aegean Sea. We identify micro-level practices—such as verbal and body language—core actors use to coordinate the collective actions of themselves and distal actors in joint routine performances. Based on these insights, we develop a process model on how core actors coordinate actions of distal actors to maintain robust routine performances. By focusing on core and distal routine participants, our study expands the literature on organizational routines into an important and largely overlooked direction. It also provides new insights into the role of verbal and body language as micro-level practices in routine performances.

PRESENTERSNorbert’s research interests are in Organization Theory and Organizational Behavior. He works on a range of different phenomena, such as fast-response organizations, team performance, firm-stakeholder relationships and inter-organizational coordination. His research has been published in Organization Science, Human Relations, the Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management or the Journal of Managerial Psychology, among others. He also authored or edited books on decision-making and team processes. He holds a PhD from Chemnitz University of Technology (Germany) and previously held faculty or visiting faculty positions at Freiberg Technical University (Germany), the University of Cologne (Germany) and Aalto University (Finland).

Thomas holds an MA in sociology and education (2006) from the University of Rostock, Germany. Before his change to the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service – DGzRS in 2012, he worked as a researcher at Chemnitz University of Technology in research projects with focus on high-performance teams. This led him afterwards to the field of maritime SAR and high-reliable organizations, where his research interests are on decision-making and sensemaking in complex task environments, disaster response and preparedness as well as the development of technical solutions to improve and support maritime SAR operations. Since 2017, Thomas is Head of Research and Development at DGzRS, holds honorary offices e.g. as a member of the German Executive Committee for Drone Operations in Public Protection and Disaster Relief and is a panel member at the Future Technology Panel of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).

Meeting Recording (link coming soon)

Meeting Presentation (link coming soon)

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