With around 1.3 million employees in England, the British National Health Service (NHS) is one of the largest organizations on the planet. Since its creation in 1948, it has been the subject of ongoing political intervention and media scrutiny, in the interests of finding appropriate cost- and medically-effective ways to organize and to deliver a range of services.
The primary rationale for this Special Interest Group, therefore, is to develop a multi-disciplinary focus on healthcare organization and management issues, as a platform for developing understanding and practice, and for informing policy.
Given the scale and significance of the sector, and the range of challenges which it faces, it is important for healthcare organization and management research to have a distinct presence within the British Academy of Management, in order to develop the research agenda, and to widen access to other complementary groups and networks for Academy members. Healthcare management research is also a meeting place for disciplines whose contributions are not well integrated, and where complementarities are not always effectively exploited. Interest in healthcare management is global, but cross-cultural comparative studies are relatively rare. The healthcare sector is of course not wholly defined by the NHS, and the scope of this SIG will encompass private and voluntary sector providers, public-private partnerships, and the pharmaceuticals sector. Research needs and opportunities are thus abundant, fascinating, and important.
Healthcare can claim a number of distinctive properties, generating special conditions and problems, for clinicians, managers, and for researchers. It is a multi-professional organization in which managers are not the most powerful stakeholders, and where change cannot be directed without the prior approval of other professional groupings. Because the NHS has an annual budget of over £100 billion, funded by taxation, healthcare is constantly on the macropolitical agenda and under an intense media gaze. In this climate, even small incidents can have major repercussions for policy and practice. The service is thus under constant pressure for rapid and radical change, and while this creates tensions for those employed in the service, this creates a ‘living laboratory’ for the study of change, from which other sectors can also learn. It is however apparent that, with respect to other sectors, these ‘distinctive properties’ are more often differences in degree than differences in kind.
In addition to exploring and developing the research agenda, this SIG will also seek to establish and to build on links with other groups, where we already have co-memberships, including the Academy of Management Health Care Management Division, and the Society for the Study of Organizing Healthcare (SHOC).
Membership of this Special Interest Group is open to all members of the British Academy of Management. If you wish to join us, contact either the BAM office, or one of our Committee members, for further information about events and other developments.