National Institute of Health Research

HS&DR - 12/5002/19: NHS Top Managers, Knowledge Exchange and Leadership: The Early Development of Academic Health Science Networks

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Project title NHS Top Managers, Knowledge Exchange and Leadership: The Early Development of Academic Health Science Networks
Research type Primary Research
Status Waiting to publish
Start date September 2013
Publication date

September 2016

Cost £ 494,108.86
Chief Investigator Professor Ewan Ferlie
Co-investigators Professor Davide Nicolini (University of Warwick), Mr John de Pury (Consultancy), Dr Jean Ledger (King's College London), Dr Daniela D'Andreta (University of Warwick)
Contractor King's College London
Plain English summary This project proposes to study the role of NHS senior managers in sharing and exchanging knowledge across their professional and strategic networks. The research will explore how knowledge of benefit to NHS patients such as innovation in health care delivery - is shared across organisations and between sectors. We will study five regional Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) which will be a prominent feature of the NHS landscape in England and are being funded nationally by the Department of Health. Using mixed research methods, we will investigate how senior NHS managers who have responsibility for leading AHSNs ensure that knowledge and relevant research is distributed across these local health networks. We will explore the strategies that they use to spread knowledge originating in non NHS organisations - such as universities or science firms - and the the key persons they go to in order to push knowledge more widely across the region. We will examine senior level engagement with learning and networking events for acquiring and sharing knowledge. We therefore aim to understand the dissemination strategies that 'knowledge leaders' use in AHSNs, their attitudes towards research, and the important professional contacts relied upon (i.e. the persons they most frequently approach for sharing new information). Senior managers' knowledge networks will be plotted using Social Network Analysis, a technique that allow researchers to understand how knowledge is shared, both formally and informally, through social and professional relationships. Alongside this, in-depth qualitative work will aim to understand the local context, possible barriers to knowledge sharing, and managers' perceptions. The core aims of this project are to: 1) shed light on the dynamics of knowledge circulation, sharing and exchange which take place within and around newly formed AHSNs; 2) deepen understanding of the role of senior NHS managers in sharing knowledge across networks (especially about innovation); 3) explore why some persons become knowledge leaders within the local networks and how they influence others.
Scientific summary The project will explore the engagement of very senior managers (CEO, or senior level managers at Board level, or designated senior ASHN leaders; both general managers and clinical managerial hybrids) in knowledge exchange activities of regional Academic Health Science Networks and the national AHSN Forum. We will study a group of senior managers who appear as highly engaged with these activities, exploring their motivations, biography and influence mechanisms. We will focus on their knowledge mobilization activity as a core tracer issue. We will track how these top managers use knowledge about knowledge mobilization within their core professional networks and how they act as knowledge leaders. We will plot these networks using Social Network Analysis (SNA) techniques and through semi-structured interviewing. We will finally generate comparative cases plotting the early development of five AHSNs and their knowledge mobilization strategies in real time. We here respond to a call for more understanding of NHS based knowledge linkage and exchange efforts by NIHR HS and DR. The proposal adds to the currently small scale literature on NHS knowledge leadership.

Commissioning Brief (PDF File - 344.7 KB)

Protocol (PDF File - 254.4 KB)


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