Successful work cultures: recommendations for leaders in healthcare

Christian E. Vazquez (Steve Hicks School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, Texas, Texas, USA)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Publication date: 7 May 2019



The purpose of this study is to gather information about work culture characteristics from four successful pediatric heart programs to better understand how they continue to maintain high standards of quality and safety.


For this qualitative study, data were collected through semi-structured in-depth individual interviews with four physician leaders. Those interviews were transcribed and coded for themes, first individually and then across all four.


Three themes emerged from the analysis. According to the experts, the three most salient elements for sustaining a successful work culture that is conducive to maintaining high standards of care are: the ‘right’ people, an effective leadership team and efficient systems.

Research limitations/implications

This was a small homogenous sample, which is a limitation of the study. All of the programs were from non-profit teaching hospitals in urban areas. This study has important research implications, as it offers descriptive information useful for guiding a future explanatory study.

Practical implications

Recommendations have been made for leaders in healthcare settings to benchmark against the work being done at these programs that maintain high standards of quality and safety.

Social implications

This information has important social and practical implications as healthcare leaders continue to work on improving quality and safety that affects patients across the country.


This study contributes to the literature by offering perspectives on successful work cultures from a diverse compilation of physician leaders and medical institutions across the USA.



Vazquez, C. (2019), "Successful work cultures: recommendations for leaders in healthcare", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 296-308.

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