Context: The German hospital market has been undergoing major changes in recent years. Success in this new market is determined by a multitude of factors. One is the quality of the social relationships between staff and the presence of shared values and rules. This factor can be considered an organization's “social capital.”
Objective: This study investigates the relationship between social capital and leadership style in German hospitals using a written survey of medical directors.
Design and Setting: In 2008, a cross-sectional representative study was conducted with 1224 medical directors from every hospital in Germany with at least 1 internal medicine unit and 1 surgery unit. Among the scales included in the standardized questionnaire were scales used to assess the medical directors' evaluation of social capital and transformational leadership in the hospital. We used a multiple linear regression model to examine the relationship between social capital and internal coordination. We controlled for hospital ownership, teaching status, and number of beds.
Participants: In total, we received questionnaires from 551 medical directors, resulting in a response rate of 45.2%. The participating hospitals had an average of 345 beds. The sample included public (41.3%), not-for-profit (46.9%), and for-profit (11.7%) hospitals.
Results: The data, which exclusively represent the perceptions of the medical directors, indicate a significant correlation between a transformational leadership style of the executive management and the social capital as perceived by medical directors. A transformational leadership style of the executive management accounted for 36% of variance of the perceived social capital.
Conclusion: The perceived social capital in German hospitals is closely related to the leadership style of the executive management. A transformational leadership style of the executive management appears to successfully strengthen the hospital's social capital.