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RC Research Findings 

To contribute a project to this database, please contact RCRCinfo@brandeis.edu.

This systematic review of relational coordination research was conducted by Brandeis University students working for the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative under the guidance of Professor Jody Hoffer Gittell. 

The review will be repeated at least annually, and more frequently when possible. This searchable database is intended to be a resource for the RCRC Partner community, to enable practitioner partners to find the evidence base for relational coordination, and to enable research partners to build on existing research and identify gaps that need to be addressed. 

Methods 

We conducted this systematic review following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The first stage was a search of Google Scholar between January 1, 1991 and July 31, 2018 using the term “relational coordination,” producing 2839 unique results.  We additionally included 6 known studies that did not otherwise appear in our Google Scholar search. In the second stage, all studies were screened to remove duplicate citations. In the third stage, we systematically screened the abstracts of all remaining 2758 studies to eliminate any studies that clearly did not empirically test the relationship between RC and outcomes, or empirically test the relationship between RC and management practices, such as review articles or theory papers.  In the fourth stage, we reviewed the full texts of all 598 remaining studies and eliminated any that did not adequately operationalize relational coordination, or clearly justify their methodology.  

This process resulted in 184 studies included in our systematic review.  Although we started the review in 1991 when relational coordination first showed up in the scholarly literature, the earliest study that met our criteria for inclusion was from 2000.  

Map of the Systematic Review Process

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Industries and Countries Where Relational Coordination Has Been Studied

The 184 studies identified through our systematic review reported a total of 469 findings.  These findings come from 31 countries and 37 industry contexts. These industry contexts are primarily in the service sector, with a particular emphasis on healthcare, but also include the manufacturing, construction, information technology and consulting sectors.  The countries where relational coordination has been studied are primarily in North America, Europe and Scandinavia, but also in South America, Asia, Central Asia and South Central Asia.  

Industries and Countries Where Relational Coordination Has Been Studied

Accounting

Airlines

Autism care

Banking

Consulting

Criminal justice

Disability care

Education

Early childhood education

Elementary education

Higher education

E-learning

Early intervention

Electronics

Finance

Healthcare

Chronic care

Elder care

Emergency care

Geriatric care

Home care

Intensive care

Neonatal intensive care

Medical care

Mental health care

Obstetric care

Oncology

Primary care

Psychiatric care

Public health

Rehabilitation care

Surgical care

Telehealth

Information technology

Manufacturing

Pharmacy

Social movements

Software 

Argentina

Austria

Australia

Belgium

Canada

China

Denmark

Egypt

England

Ecuador

France

Iceland

India

Ireland

Israel

Japan

Lebanon

Malaysia

Netherlands

New Zealand

Norway

Pakistan

Portugal

Saudi Arabia

Scotland

Singapore

South Korea

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

United States

How Relational Coordination Has Been Measured

Relational coordination has been measured in multiple ways by researchers. The majority of findings (55%) identified by this systematic review were based on the 7-item validated Relational Coordination Survey, while 9% were based on the earlier 6-item Relational Coordination Survey.  In addition, 18% of findings were based on alternative survey measures of relational coordination, and 18% were based on qualitative assessments of relational coordination. We asked separately, for each finding in our systematic review, which stakeholders were included in the measurement of relational coordination?  While relational coordination is typically measured between workgroups such as doctors, nurses, techs, teachers and counsellors, 10% of findings addressed relational coordination with clients as well and 30% of findings addressed relational coordination between organizations.  

Overview of Findings

Of the 469 findings, 233 were about outcomes of relational coordination, and 131 were about the management structures expected to support relational coordination for a total of 364 findings.  Below you can see specifically which outcomes were studied, which management structures were studied, and what percent of the findings were consistent with relational coordination theory.

There were also 19 findings about contingency factors expected to influence relational coordination; 12 findings about individual predictors like gender, job tenure, and age; and 73 findings about miscellaneous predictors of relational coordination.  

 

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