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Life in Conflict

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Using original photographs and film footage from his fieldwork with deployed military surgical teams in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, Dr de Rond explores the lived experience of conflict in the world’s bloodiest war hospital. He will argue that the sources of conflict are not restricted to a hospital’s perimeters, but endemic to teams of high performers, including surgical teams. These sources of conflict are ever-present, and occasioned by the paradoxes of life at any frontier: the coexistence of meaningfulness and yet futility, cooperation and yet competition too, selflessness and selfishness, trust and vigilance, adrenaline-fueled pleasure and guilt, and their consequences for psychological safety and, ultimately, personal and patient welfare. He will conclude that these sources of conflict cannot generally be reconciled: they are inevitable and also necessary. Our human plight seems to be that of reconciling ourselves to them as best we might.


Mark de Rond is Reader in Strategy and Organization at Judge Business School, Cambridge University. He studies teams of high performers the old fashioned way: by living with them under similar conditions. His first book, on drug discovery collaborations, received the 2005 George R Terry Book Award from the Academy of Management, making him the youngest-ever recipient. His second book, based on his observations of the Cambridge University Boat Race squad was simultaneously selected by The Financial Times as one of 12 Best Business Books of 2008, and by BBC Sport as one of 10 Best Sporting Reads of 2008. His work has featured in TIME magazine, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Times, The Week, The Independent, The Telegraph and The Guardian, as well as on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service. His third book will be published by Harvard Business School Press in July 2012.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Lecture Series series.

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