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The Relationship Between Transformational Leadership and Social Capital in Hospitals—A Survey of Medical Directors of All German Hospitals

Hammer, Antje Dipl Soz; Ommen, Oliver MD, MPH; Röttger, Julia MSc; Pfaff, Holger PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: March/April 2012 - Volume 18 - Issue 2 - p 175–180
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31823dea94
Research Brief Report

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.

This study aims to investigate the relationship between social capital and leadership style in German hospitals, using a written survey of medical directors.

Institute for Medical Sociology, Health Services Research and Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Human Science and Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany (Ms Hammer and Drs Ommen and Pfaff); and Department for Health Services Research, Institute for Public Health and Nursing Science, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany (Ms Röttger).

Correspondence: Antje Hammer, Dipl Soz, Institute for Medical Sociology, Health Services Research and Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Human Science and Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne, Eupener Strasse 129, 50933 Cologne, Germany (Antje.Hammer@uk-koeln.de).

The authors thank German Medical Association for providing funding and Guenther Heller and Christian Guenster from the Research Institute of Local Healthcare Insurance in Berlin for their collaboration. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the German Medical Association or the Research Institute of Local Healthcare Insurance in Berlin.

This study has been approved by the Research Ethics Board at the University of Cologne.

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.