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Escaping the healthcare leadership cul-de-sac

John Duncan Edmonstone (MTDS Consultancy, Ripon, UK)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 6 February 2017




This paper aims to propose that healthcare is dominated by a managerialist ideology, powerfully shaped by business schools and embodied in the Masters in Business Administration. It suggests that there may be unconscious collusion between universities, healthcare employers and student leaders and managers.


Based on a review of relevant literature, the paper examines critiques of managerialism generally and explores the assumptions behind leadership development. It draws upon work which suggests that leading in healthcare organisations is fundamentally different and proposes that leadership development should be more practice-based.


The way forward for higher education institutions is to include work- or practice-based approaches alongside academic approaches.

Practical implications

The paper suggests that there is a challenge for higher education institutions to adopt and integrate practice-based development methods into their programme designs.


The paper provides a challenge to the future role of higher education institutions in developing leadership in healthcare.



Edmonstone, J.D. (2017), "Escaping the healthcare leadership cul-de-sac", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 76-91.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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