Practices of promoting and progressing multinational collaborative work: Interaction in UN military observer training

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, L10

Topic of the dissertation

Practices of promoting and progressing multinational collaborative work: Interaction in UN military observer training

Doctoral candidate

Master of Arts Iira Rautiainen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Humanities, Research Unit for Languages and Literature

Subject of study



Doctor Robin Smith, Cardiff University


Professor Pentti Haddington, University of Oulu

Visit thesis event

Add event to calendar

Interaction in critical settings: collaboration in UN military observer training is strengthened by spontaneous practices and by taking participants’ knowledge and expertise into consideration

This dissertation examines multinational UN military observer training where English is used as the working language. The study focuses on the trainees’ interactional practices as part of vehicle patrolling. The study is unique because it explores situations previously unattainable for both interaction researchers and instructors. The study is particularly important because talk and interaction are essential tools for military observers. Preparing and training for collaboration are focal objectives in and for training. Collaboration means a shared understanding of ways of working, the objectives, and working together to reach the objectives. Especially in situations where simultaneous tasks exceed the number of participants, sharing mutual procedures and goals becomes indispensable. Interaction among participants can strengthen collaboration in busy, critical, and occasionally dangerous situations and thus reduce the number of mistakes.

This study examines how trainees interact to achieve a mutual goal. These include, for example, negotiating routes, interpreting radio messages, or supporting others in performing tasks. The study was implemented in the English unit at the University of Oulu as part of projects PeaceTalk and iTask. The research materials consisting of video recordings and ethnographic observations have been collected from two UN military observer courses in 2019. The study combines the methods of ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, and ethnography.

The study builds an in-depth view of collaboration among military observers and unpacks interactional practices that progress collaboration. Analysis of the interaction in patrolling vehicles reveals that the practices are occasionally complex and often very subtle. The participants strengthen their collaboration and progress toward a shared objective by using various interactional practices, such as asking questions or interpreting radio messages together. The study shows that the participants orient simultaneously to taskwork and teamwork, but also to the advancement of a broader shared project, such as the patrolling assignment. What becomes relevant in collaborative situations are the situated ways to solve problems and taking one’s own as well as others’ knowledge, skills, and expertise into consideration.

The findings of the study can be applied in the development of crisis management training as well as in other multinational collaborative contexts. The study has been funded by Eudaimonia Institute and Academy of Finland.
Last updated: 23.1.2024