Where's the logic in commissioning?: exploring the influence of institutional logics on inter-organisational working in the English National Health

O'Connor, Rebecca (2018) Where's the logic in commissioning?: exploring the influence of institutional logics on inter-organisational working in the English National Health. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (2MB)


This thesis explores inter-organisational relationships and behaviours when complex healthcare pathways are planned, designed, procured and implemented in the English National Health Service (NHS) in a process known as commissioning. Commissioning and healthcare provision in the NHS is organised separately and operates as a quasi-market system. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) commission the majority of local healthcare for their populations and purchase services accordingly from many different types of healthcare provider organisations. Poor integration between different provider organisations has been suggested a contributing factor to the unsustainable demands the NHS is currently facing. New models of provision have been recommended in policy as a commissioning strategy to improve integration and these require collaboration and effective inter-organisational working between organisations.

Healthcare is a highly complex institutional field and the institutional logics perspective offers a theoretical framework to explore how institutions embedded within a field guide behaviour. Bureaucratic, market, corporate and professional logics are known to exist in healthcare and can be used to break down institutional complexity into abstract constructs to understand the demands organisations face but enquiry has tended to focus on sole organisations rather than inter-organisational behaviour. However the institutional logics perspective offers the opportunity to explore the influence of institutional demands on inter-organisational relationships in complex institutional fields.

This study sought to explain how logics influence inter-organisational behaviours as organisations work together to develop integrated care pathways. Using stroke service commissioning as a contextual example, the study explored three comparative case studies of the commissioning processes used to reorganise and develop stroke services into integrated care pathways across acute and community providers. Using methods associated with the ethnographic tradition, fifty-four semi-structured interviews with commissioners, providers, patient representatives and advisory bodies were completed, ten commissioning meetings were observed and strategic documentation for each organisation were collected. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes which were then viewed through the institutional logics framework lens to explore how logics were present and influencing the commissioning processes as they progressed.

The empirical findings suggest that an organisation’s interpretation of the institutional environment influences how an organisation and their individuals behave. In turn those behaviours influence how the organisations they are attempting to work with respond. Establishing a shared goal between the organisations was crucial but an organisations response to institutional demands may make this difficult to achieve.

Collaboration was considered key to successful integration but this was only successful when commissioners were able to negotiate complex logics to facilitate shared goals and means of achieving them. This was most successful when organisations co-opted an alternative logic to compliment the organisations they were attempting to work with for different phases of the commissioning process. When complimentary logics were op-opted, organisations were better equipped to work collaboratively but if contradictory logics were in play, there was increased risk of inter-organisational relationships breaking down. Some commissioners used this strategy effectively to develop inter-organisational relationships while hiding the logic which informed their underlying goal which allowed them to maintain control of the commissioning process. This suggested that an organisations interpretation of the institutional environment and skills at using logics to manipulate the means of achieving goals was important.

In conclusion, when logics are used by organisations to compliment the beliefs and behaviours of other organisations when they attempt to work together, they are able to establish effective inter-organisational relationships that allow collaborative work towards shared goals. This may be an important characteristic of commissioning organisations as they attempt to commission new models of integrated care.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Waring, Justin
Fisher, Rebecca
Keywords: Interorganizational relations; Medical protocols; Healthcare pathways; Health services administration; Institutional logics
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
Item ID: 51673
Depositing User: O'Connor, Rebecca
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2018 04:40
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 18:46
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/51673

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View