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The entrepreneur: a new breed of health service leader?

Rosemary Exton (UK Work Organisation Network/NUHT NHS, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 20 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to critically examine the notion of entrepreneurship in the UK National Health Service (NHS), promoted by government ministers and senior civil servants as part of the rhetoric of the modernisation agenda.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores literature on entrepreneurship in the private and public sector and qualitative case study evidence on the emergence (and non‐emergence) of “entrepreneurs” who led the improving working lives (IWL) initiative in the UK National Health Service and discusses the issues involved.

Findings

The rhetoric serves an essentially ideological function, obscuring the real difficulty of securing effective and sustainable change, in organisations with deeply engrained power structures and as complex and intransient as the NHS in particular and health services more generally.

Practical implications

A “new breed of entrepreneurial leaders” may eventually appear but they face the challenge of surviving in the hierarchical NHS culture and in a climate of turbulent change created by the volatility of government policy.

Originality/value

The paper shows that efforts to pursue entrepreneurship in the UK NHS have to overcome obstacles involving the interplay of power, gender and language.

Keywords

Citation

Exton, R. (2008), "The entrepreneur: a new breed of health service leader?", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 208-222. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777260810883503

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited