In addition to publishing empirical research and systematic reviews, Health Care Management Review (HCMR) has distinguished itself by also publishing “Critical Advancements.” Critical Advancements take two forms – 1) identifying a novel issue, management approach, organizational form, or trend and applying a theoretical analysis to deepen our understanding of it, or 2) using a novel phenomenon, technology, tool, or trend to rethink an existing theoretical approach to health care management. As an example of the former, a set of papers in 2016 examined how the adoption and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) could be understood through the theoretical lenses of high-reliability theory (Vogus & Singer, 2016), institutional theory (Goodrick & Reay, 2016), organizational learning (Nembhard & Tucker, 2016), or transaction cost economics (Mick & Shay, 2016). Another example is McDaniel’s use of quantum and chaos theories to explain strategic leadership of health care organizations. As an example of applying specific tools, McLeod et al. (In Press) used “hackathons” common to technology development to rethink the theory and practice of teamwork in health care. Critical Advancements are unique because they sit at the intersection of theory and practice and allow for greater conceptual development than an editorial while stopping short of a model with propositions.
The need for critical advancements is perhaps best illustrated by looking back to the field’s origins and the scholars there at its founding. Such an occasion recently occurred at the Organizational Theory in Health Care conference at the Wharton School this past May co-sponsored by HCMR. Specifically, a panel discussion took stock of what constituted critical advancements in the field and where we might look for advancing theory and practice next. The panel was moderated by Ingrid Nembhard (as part of a conference co-hosted by Lawton Robert Burns) featuring founding figures in health care management research - Ann Barry Flood of Dartmouth College, John Kimberly of the University of Pennsylvania; Anthony (Tony) Kovner of New York University, Stephen (Steve) Shortell of University of California at Berkeley, and Jacqueline (Jackie) Zinn of Temple University. The transcript is featured in full in this issue and I share a few key insights from it in hopes of spurring future Critical Advancements submissions.
Provocatively, Ann Barry Flood noted that “health care organizations are truly weird” and through those weird aspects (e.g., a physician practicing at 22 hospitals) we have gleaned ways existing theory may break down when key people are not truly organizational members. Relatedly, Tony Kovner noted how prior critical advancements in health care resulted from applying foundational organization theory to understanding their organizational operating dynamics and that we need more such insight regarding governance. John Kimberly pointed to the need for more holistically addressing the full implications of a digital world for health care management theory and practice, and pointed to tranversal learning across fields to help us get there. Both Steve Shortell and Jackie Zinn noted how understanding interorganizational relationships and market dynamics have yielded critical advancements in the past, but how can they help explain and manage the increasing permeability of organizations and sectors in pursuit of population health. Or, do our existing theories of interorganizational collaboration, resource dependence, and social exchange need refinement? Each of the suggestions from these outstanding scholars has the beginnings of an impactful Critical Advancements manuscript. I hope this inspires you to develop and submit conceptual work to HCMR that considers the complex interplay of theory and practice on pressing issues in health care management.
Timothy J. Vogus
Associate Editor for Critical Advancements
Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management
401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37027
Goodrick E., & Reay T. (2016). An institutional perspective on accountable care organizations. Medical Care Research and Review
, 73(6), 685–693.
McDaniel R. R. Jr. (1997). Strategic leadership: a view from quantum and chaos theories. Health Care Management Review
, 22(1), 21–37.
McLeod P., et al. (In Press). Hacking Teamwork in Healthcare: Addressing Adverse Effects of Ad Hoc Team Composition in Critical Care Medicine. Health Care Management Review
Mick S. S. F., & Shay P. D. (2016). Accountable care organizations and transaction cost economics. Medical Care Research and Review
, 73(6), 649–659.
Nembhard I. M., & Tucker A. L. (2016). Applying organizational learning research to accountable care organizations. Medical Care Research and Review
, 73(6), 673–684.
Vogus T. J., & Singer S. J. (2016). Creating highly reliable accountable care organizations. Medical Care Research and Review
, 73(6), 660–672.