Multi-professional teamwork in human services

J Health Organ Manag. 2018 Aug 20;32(5):741-759. doi: 10.1108/JHOM-03-2017-0062. Epub 2018 Aug 24.


Purpose This paper investigates the prospects and difficulties of multi-professional teamwork in human services from a professional identity perspective. The purpose of this paper is to explore the mutual interplay between professional identity formation and team activities. Design/methodology/approach This is a process study of two cases of multi-professional teamwork in family care. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with team members and managers. The analysis follows a stepwise approach alternating between the individual and team levels. Findings In showing the mutual interplay between teamwork processes and individual identity formation, the study contributes knowledge on professional identity formation of mature professionals; in particular showing how unique individual identification processes have different consequences for multi-professional team activities. Further, alternative shapes of interplay between individual identity formation and team-level processes are identified. Research limitations/implications Despite the fact that the sample is small and that collaboration intensity was relatively low, the paper succeeds in conceptualising the links between professional identity formation and multi-professional teamwork. Practical implications In managing multi-professional teams, team composition and the team's early developments seem determining for whether the team will reach its collaborative intentions. Originality/value This paper is original in its exploration of the ongoing interplay between individual identity formation and multi-professional team endeavours. Further, the paper contributes knowledge on mature professionals' identity formation, particularly concerning individual variation within and between professional groups.

Keywords: Collaboration; Human services; Multi-professional teamwork; Professional identity.

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Work*