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Critical healthcare management studies: green shoots

Martin Kitchener (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Aoife M. McDermott (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Simon Cooper (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 21 August 2017



While critical approaches have enriched research in proximate fields, their impact has been less marked in studies of healthcare management. In response, the 2016 Organizational Behaviour in Health Care Conference hosted its first-ever session dedicated to the emergent field of critical healthcare management studies (CHMSs). The purpose of this paper is to present five papers selected from that conference.


In this introductory paper, the authors frame the contributions as “green shoots” in a field of CHMS which contains four main furrows of activity: questioning the taken-for-granted; moving beyond instrumentalism; reflexivity and meanings in research; and challenging structures of domination (Kitchener and Thomas, 2016). The authors conclude by presenting an agenda for further cultivating the field of CHMS.


The papers evidence the value of CHMS, and provide insight into the benefits of broadening theoretical and methodological approaches in pursuit of critical insights.

Research limitations/implications

CHMS works to explicate the multiple and competing ideologies and interests inherent in healthcare. As pragmatic imperatives push the provision of health and social care out of the organisational contexts and into private space, there is a particular need to simultaneously understand, and critically interrogate, the implications of new, as well as existing, forms of care.

Practical implications

This paper reviews, frames and details practical next steps in developing CHMS. These include: enhanced engagement with a wider range of actors than is currently the norm in mainstream healthcare management research; a broadening of theoretical and methodological lenses; support for critical approaches among editors and reviewers; and enhanced communication of critical research via its incorporation into education and training programmes.


The paper contributes to an emerging stream of CHMS research, and works to consolidate next steps for the field.



Kitchener, M., McDermott, A.M. and Cooper, S. (2017), "Critical healthcare management studies: green shoots", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 530-541.



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