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Understanding and Managing Organizational Change: Implications for Public Health Management

Thompson, Jon M. PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181c8cb51
Article
Abstract

Managing organizational change has become a significant responsibility of managers. Managing the change process within public health organizations is important because appropriately and systematically managing change is linked to improved organizational performance. However, change is difficult and the change process poses formidable challenges for managers. Managers themselves face increased pressure to respond to environmental influences and provide the necessary leadership to their organizations in the change process. In fact, managing organizational change has become a key competency for healthcare managers. This article addresses the important topic of organizational change in public health organizations. It provides a conceptual foundation for understanding organizational change and its relationship to healthcare organizational performance, and then discusses the types and nature of change, using some examples and evidence from those organizations that have successfully managed change. A framework for guiding public health managers in the change management process is provided. The article concludes with suggested management competencies to establish a change-oriented organization with the culture and capacity for change.

In Brief

This article provides a conceptual foundation for understanding organizational change and its relationship to healthcare organizational performance, discusses the types and nature of change, and provides suggested management competencies to establish a change-oriented organization with the culture and capacity for change.

Author Information

Jon M. Thompson, PhD, is Professor and Director, Health Services Administration Program, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Corresponding Author: Jon M. Thompson, PhD, Health Services Administration Program, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807 (thompsjm@jmu.edu).

The author acknowledges the contributions of the following individuals, whose comments helped shape the content of this article: G. Douglas Larsen, MD, Director, Central Shenandoah Health District, Staunton, Virginia; Suzi Silverstein, Director, Emergency Preparedness Training, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond; and Reena Patel, Field Operations Supervisor, Division of Immunizations, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.