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Investigating power styles and behavioural compliance for effective hospital administration: An application of AHP

Anjali Pathania (School of Business Studies, Central University of Jammu, Jammu, India)
Gowhar Rasool (School of Business Studies, Central University of Jammu, Jammu, India)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 8 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine the use of power tactics by hospital administrators in order to gain employee compliance. It attempts to understand the influence of power bases of hospital administrators on the employee compliance using an analytic hierarchy process (AHP) technique.


The study adopted a mixed method technique and was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, qualitative analysis was carried out through content analysis of the anecdotes collected from the employees working in tertiary hospitals. Content analysis of responses aided in obtaining a list of criteria and sub-criteria affecting employee behavioural compliance. In the second phase, quantitative analysis was carried out using the AHP technique. While applying AHP, the issue pertaining to employee behavioural compliance with hospital’s policies, procedures and related instructions was formulated in form of a hierarchy of one objective, two criteria, six sub-criteria and five alternatives established through literature review and content analysis. Furthermore, the subject matter experts were asked to conduct pairwise comparison wherein priority rankings were achieved.


The results indicated that reward power (25 per cent) is the most significant power style exercised by effective hospital administrators in achieving employee behavioural compliance followed by expert (24 per cent), referent (22 per cent) and legitimate powers (17 per cent). As coercive (12 per cent) came out to be the least preferred power style, it should be cautiously exercised by hospital administrators in the present day scenario.

Research limitations/implications

The major limitation of this study is that the sample was drawn only from three tertiary hospitals in Jammu district that limits the generalizability of the findings in all the hospital settings across different regions. No attempt is made in this study to understand the variations with regard to demographics of the respondents that can be taken as a future research study. This study is cross-sectional in nature and provides the perspective of specific time. A longitudinal study could further provide insights into different time variations and the comparison and henceforth can be more comprehensive, thus supporting the generalizability of this study.

Practical implications

The study empirically identifies the relative importance of exercising power styles in order to gain employee behavioural compliance. The study helps in understanding the complex problem of behavioural compliance in hospital setting by examining the intensity of each factor affecting employee behavioural compliance. This knowledge is very critical in effective hospital management and getting the work done. The priority rankings obtained for power styles can be used for developing selection batteries and performance records of hospital administrators. As the behaviour of the employees is not static, there may exist the inherent limitations of adopted cross-sectional design for the present study. Furthermore, longitudinal study can be conducted at different time periods, to understand the variations in the patterns of employee’s compliance behaviour and associated practiced power styles by hospital administrators.


This is perhaps the first study that has scientifically attempted to integrate the power styles and analyzed their effective use in hospital administration. This research study has attempted to develop an elementary base for academicians, scholars as well as management practitioners on the effective use of power styles for achieving employee behavioural compliance in hospitals.



Pathania, A. and Rasool, G. (2019), "Investigating power styles and behavioural compliance for effective hospital administration: An application of AHP", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 958-977.



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