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High-performance work systems in health care management, Part 1: Development of an evidence-informed model

Garman, Andrew N.; McAlearney, Ann Scheck; Harrison, Michael I.; Song, Paula H.; McHugh, Megan

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0b013e318201d1bf

Background: Although management practices are recognized as important factors in improving health care quality and efficiency, most research thus far has focused on individual practices, ignoring or underspecifying the contexts within which these practices are operating. Research from other industries, which has increasingly focused on systems rather than individual practices, has yielded results that may benefit health services management.

Purpose: Our goal was to develop a conceptual model on the basis of prior research from health care as well as other industries that could be used to inform important contextual considerations within health care.

Methodology/Approach: Using theoretical frameworks from A. Donabedian (1966), P. M. Wright, T. M. Gardner, and L. M. Moynihan (2003), and B. Schneider, D. B. Smith, and H. W. Goldstein (2000) and review methods adapted from R. Pawson (2006b), we reviewed relevant research from peer-reviewed and other industry-relevant sources to inform our model. The model we developed was then reviewed with a panel of practitioners, including experts in quality and human resource management, to assess the applicability of the model to health care settings.

Findings: The resulting conceptual model identified four practice bundles, comprising 14 management practices as well as nine factors influencing adoption and perceived sustainability of these practices. The mechanisms by which these practices influence care outcomes are illustrated using the example of hospital-acquired infections. In addition, limitations of the current evidence base are discussed, and an agenda for future research in health care settings is outlined.

Practice Implications: Results may help practitioners better conceptualize management practices as part of a broader system of work practices. This may, in turn, help practitioners to prioritize management improvement efforts more systematically.

Andrew N. Garman, PsyD, MS, is Associate Chair, Department of Health Systems Management, Rush University, Chicago, IL. E-mail:

Ann Scheck McAlearney, ScD, MS, is Associate Professor, Health Services Management and Policy, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus.

Michael I. Harrison, PhD, is Sr. Social Scientist, Center for Delivery, Organization, and Markets, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

Paula H. Song, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Health Services Management and Policy, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus.

Megan McHugh, PhD, is Director of Research, Health Research and Educational Trust, American Hospital Association, Chicago, IL.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.