Organizational culture in an academic health center: an exploratory study using a competing values framework.
Ovseiko PV., Buchan AM.
PURPOSE: Implementing cultural change and aligning organizational cultures could enhance innovation, quality, safety, and job satisfaction. The authors conducted this mixed-methods study to assess academic physician-scientists' perceptions of the current and preferred future organizational culture at a university medical school and its partner health system. METHOD: In October 2010, the authors surveyed academic physicians and scientists jointly employed by the University of Oxford and its local, major partner health system. The survey included the U.S. Veterans Affairs Administration's 14-item Competing Values Framework instrument and two extra items prompting respondents to identify their substantive employer and to provide any additional open-ended comments. RESULTS: Of 436 academic physicians and scientists, 170 (39%) responded. Of these, 69 (41%) provided open-ended comments. Dominant hierarchical culture, moderate rational and team cultures, and underdeveloped entrepreneurial culture characterized the health system culture profile. The university profile was more balanced, with strong rational and entrepreneurial cultures, and moderate-to-strong hierarchical and team cultures. The preferred future culture (within five years) would emphasize team and entrepreneurial cultures and-to a lesser degree-rational culture, and would deemphasize hierarchical culture. CONCLUSIONS: Whereas the university and the health system currently have distinct organizational cultures, academic physicians and scientists would prefer the same type of culture across the two organizations so that both could more successfully pursue the shared mission of academic medicine. Further research should explore strengthening the validity and reliability of the organizational culture instrument for academic medicine and building an evidence base of effective culture change strategies and interventions.