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Governance structure and public health provision

David John Sheard (Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Gregory Clydesdale (Department of Commerce, Lincoln University, Lincoln, New Zealand)
Gillis Maclean (Lincoln University, Lincoln, New Zealand)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 25 June 2019

Issue publication date: 8 July 2019




A key question in the provision of public health concerns how that provision is governed. The purpose of this paper is to examine the governance structure of a public health board and its perceived impact on the efficacy of clinical operations.


Structural issues examined the level of centralisation and public participation, and whether governance should occur through elected boards or appointed managers. These issues were examined through multiple lenses. First was the intention of the structure, examining the issues identified by parliament when the new structure was created. Second, the activities of the board were examined through an analysis of board meetings. Finally, hospital clinicians were surveyed through semi-structured interviews with both quantitative and qualitative questioning.


A contradiction was revealed between intention, perception and actual activities. This raises concerns over whether the public are significantly informed to elect the best-skilled appointees to governance positions.

Practical implications

This research holds implications for selecting governance structures of public health providers.


Few studies have looked at the role of a publicly elected healthcare governance structure from the perspective of the clinicians. Hence, this study contributes to the literature on healthcare structure and its impact on clinical operations, by including a clinician’s perspective. However, this paper goes beyond the survey and also considers the intention of the structure as proposed by parliament, and board activities or what the board actually does. This enables a comparison of intention with outcomes and perception of those outcomes.



Sheard, D.J., Clydesdale, G. and Maclean, G. (2019), "Governance structure and public health provision", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 426-442.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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