Purpose - This paper explores critical factors that may obstruct or advance integration efforts initiated by the clinical management following a hospital merger. The aim is to increase our understanding of why clinical integration succeeds or fails.
Design/methodology/approach - We compare two cases of integration efforts following the Karolinska University Hospital merger in Sweden. Each case represents two merged departments of the same specialty from each hospital site. We conducted 53 interviews with individuals representing various staff categories and collected documents to check data consistency.
Findings - The study identifies three critical factors that seem to be instrumental for the process and outcome of integration efforts – clinical management’s 1) interpretation of the mandate, 2) design of the management constellation and 3) approach to integration. Obstructive factors are: a sole focus on the formal assignment from the top; individual leadership; and the use of a classic, planned, top-down management approach. Supportive factors are: paying attention to multiple stakeholders; shared leadership; and the use of an emergent, bottom-up management approach within planned boundaries. These findings are basically consistent with the literature’s prescriptions for managing professional organisations.
Practical implications - Managers need to understand that public healthcare organisations are based on multiple logics that need to be handled in a balanced way if clinical integration is to be achieved – especially the tension between managerialism and professionalism.
Originality/value - By focusing on the merger consequences for clinical units, this paper addresses an important gap in the healthcare merger literature.
2012. Vol. 26, no 4, 486-507 p.