The metaphors of collaboration, or the social construction of collaborative interactions between health professionals

The metaphors of collaboration, or the social construction of collaborative interactions between health professionals

Authors

  • Stefano Tomelleri Dipartimento di Scienze Umane e Sociali, Università di Bergamo, Italy
  • Roberto Lusardi Dipartimento di Scienze Umane e Sociali, Università di Bergamo, Italy
  • Giovanna Artioli Settore Formazione e Aggiornamento, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma, Parma, Italy

Keywords:

inter-professional relations, collaborative practice, metaphors, qualitative research, organizational innovation

Abstract

This article illustrates the ways in which symbolic representations of reality, embodied in metaphors and language, can affect collaborative interactions in the current situation of social and economic change. We assume that corporate transformation and organizational configurations influence health professionals’ representations in largely unconscious ways  and, with these, their everyday practice. On the basis of empirical data collected through 13 focus groups in an Italian hospital, our intention is to show the extent to which joint working can be linked to three main metaphors each matching specific forms of social and professional interaction. The three metaphors of collaboration constitute different attempts to interpret social and organizational changes in proactive - encouraging social innovation - or defensive terms - as actions of cultural resistance. The three metaphors are: apparatus, family and team. In different ways, the first two represent forms of resistance to change and are widely present within organizations. The latter, on the other hand, consists of a proactive way to deal with ongoing social and organizational change. This metaphor testifies to the existence of a different approach to collaborative interactions, a perspective related to specific combinations of organizational and professional characteristics. This study indicates that organizational change and collaboration can be strengthened by metaphors that illustrate open, plural and highly heterogeneous professional settings.

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Published

13-03-2015

How to Cite

1.
The metaphors of collaboration, or the social construction of collaborative interactions between health professionals. Acta Biomed [Internet]. 2015 Mar. 13 [cited 2024 Jun. 22];86(1Suppl):7-18. Available from: https://www.mattioli1885journals.com/index.php/actabiomedica/article/view/4298