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Accreditation: a cultural control strategy

André Paccioni (Centre of Interdisciplinary Research on Rehabilitation of Greater Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Claude Sicotte (Department of Health Administration, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
François Champagne (Department of Health Administration, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to describe and understand the effects of the accreditation process on organizational control and quality management practices in two Quebec primary‐care health organizations.


A multiple‐case longitudinal study was conducted taking a mixed qualitative/quantitative approach. An analytical model was developed of the effects of the accreditation process on the type of organizational control exercised and the quality management practices implemented. The data were collected through group interviews, semi‐directed interviews of key informers, non‐participant observations, a review of the literature, and structured questionnaires distributed to all the employees working in both institutions.


The accreditation process has fostered the implementation of consultation mechanisms in self‐assessment teams. Improving assessments of client satisfaction was identified as a prime objective but, in terms of the values promoted in organizations, accreditation has little effect on the perceptions of employees not directly involved in the process. As long as not all staff members have integrated the basis for accreditation and its outcomes, the accreditation process appears to remain an external, bureaucratic control instrument.


This study provides a theoretical model for understanding organizational changes brought about by accreditation of primary services. Through self‐assessment of professional values and standards, accreditation may foster better quality management practices.



Paccioni, A., Sicotte, C. and Champagne, F. (2008), "Accreditation: a cultural control strategy", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 146-158.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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