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Regulating time commitments in healthcare organizations: Managers' boundary approaches at work and in life

Ellinor Tengelin (Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Rebecka Arman (School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Ewa Wikström (School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Lotta Dellve (Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 1 November 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore managers' boundary setting in order to better understand their handling of time commitment to work activities, stress, and recovery during everyday work and at home.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper has qualitatively‐driven, mixed method design including observational data, individual interviews, and focus group discussions. Data were analyzed according to Charmaz' view on constructivist grounded theory.

Findings

A first step in boundary setting was to recognize areas with conflicting expectations and inexhaustible needs. Second, strategies were formed through negotiating the handling of managerial time commitment, resulting in boundary‐setting, but also boundary‐dissolving, approaches. The continuous process of individual recognition and negotiation could work as a form of proactive coping, provided that it was acknowledged and questioned.

Research limitations/implications

These findings suggest that recognition of perceived boundary challenges can affect stress and coping. It would therefore be interesting to more accurately assess stress, coping, and health status among managers by means of other methodologies (e.g. physiological assessments).

Practical implications

In regulating managers' work assignments, work‐related stress and recovery, it seems important to: acknowledge boundary work as an ever‐present dilemma requiring continuous negotiation; and encourage individuals and organizations to recognize conflicting perspectives inherent in the leadership assignment, in order to decrease harmful negotiations between them. Such awareness would benefit more sustainable management of healthcare practice.

Originality/value

This paper highlights how managers can handle ever‐present boundary dilemmas in the healthcare sector by regulating their time commitments in various ways.

Keywords

Citation

Tengelin, E., Arman, R., Wikström, E. and Dellve, L. (2011), "Regulating time commitments in healthcare organizations: Managers' boundary approaches at work and in life", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 578-599. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777261111161905

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited