Managing complex healthcare organizations

James W. Begun, Marcus Thygeson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 Scopus citations


It is well established that healthcare organizations are among the most complex in society. It also is well established that effective management practice in any organization or setting is context-specific; that is, what works in one context may not work in another. Healthcare management theory built around the assumption that healthcare organizations are distinctively complex, therefore, is likely to be more useful in management practice. We review several guidelines for managing complex healthcare organizations that emanate from the theoretical assumption that healthcare organizations are complex. Some guidelines derive from what is referred to as “complexity science” or “complexity theory”; most come from observers who “simply” appreciate, implicitly or explicitly, that healthcare organizations are complex. (There is much similarity between guidelines that derive from the two sources, as one might hope.) We then make recommendations for taking more seriously the complexity of healthcare management in the education and research arenas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Healthcare Management
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781783470167
ISBN (Print)9781783470143
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Myron D. Fottler, Donna Malvey and Donna J. Slovensky 2015. All rights reserved.


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