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case study, intended strategies, strategic agenda, strategy formation in hospitals, unintended strategies



  1. Ridder, Hans-Gerd
  2. Schrader, Jan Simon


Background: Strategic change is needed in hospitals due to external and internal pressures. However, research on strategic change, as a combination of management and medical expertise in hospitals, remains scarce.


Purpose: We analyze how intended strategic issues are processed into deliberate strategies and how unintended strategic issues are processed into emergent strategies in the management of strategy formation in hospitals. This study empirically investigates the integration of medical and management expertise in strategy formation.


Methodology: The longitudinal character of the case study enabled us to track patterns of intended and unintended strategic issues over 2 years. We triangulated data from interviews, observations, and documents. In accordance with the quality standards of qualitative research procedures, we analyzed the data by pattern matching and provided analytical generalization regarding strategy formation in hospitals.


Results: Our findings suggest that strategic issues are particularly successful within the strategy formation process if interest groups are concerned with the strategic issue, prospective profits are estimated, and relevant decisions makers are involved early on. Structure and interaction processes require clear criteria and transparent procedures for effective strategy formation.


Conclusion: There is systematic neglect of medical expertise in processes of generating strategies.


Practice Implications: Our study reveals that the decentralized structure of medical centers is an adequate template for both the operationalization of intended strategic issues and the development of unintended strategic issues. However, tasks, roles, responsibility, resources, and administrative support are necessary for effective management of strategy formation. Similarly, criteria, procedures, and decision-making are prerequisites for effective strategy formation.