Planes, straws and oysters: the use of metaphors in healthcare reform

Ross Millar (University of Birmingham)
Helen Dickinson (Associate Professor Public Governance, Melbourne School of Government, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Publication date: 21 March 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the paper is to examine the metaphors used by senior managers and clinicians in the delivery of healthcare reform.

Design/methodology/approach

A study of healthcare reform in England carried out a series of semi structured interviews with senior managers and clinicians leading primary and secondary care organisations. Qualitative data analysis examines instances where metaphorical language is used to communicate how particular policy reforms are experienced and the implications these reforms have for organisational contexts.

Findings

The findings show how metaphorical language is used to explain the interactions between policy reform and organisational contexts. Metaphors are used to illustrate both the challenges and opportunities associated with the reform proposals for organisational change.

Originality/value

The authors provide the first systematic study of patterns and meanings of metaphors within English healthcare contexts and beyond. The authors argue that these metaphors provide important examples of “generative” dialogue in their illustration of the opportunities associated with reform. Conversely, these metaphors also provide examples of “degenerative” dialogue in their illustration of a demarcation between the reform policy proposals and existing organisational contexts.

Keywords

Citation

Millar, R. and Dickinson, H. (2016), "Planes, straws and oysters: the use of metaphors in healthcare reform", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 117-132. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHOM-11-2013-0242

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.