Charting a Course: A Research Agenda for Studying the Governance of Health Care Networks

Larry R Hearld, Daan Westra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Networked forms of organizing in health care are increasingly viewed as an effective means of addressing "wicked", multifaceted health and societal challenges. This is because networks attempt to address these challenges via collaborative approaches in which diverse stakeholders together define the problem(s) and implement solutions. Consequently, there has been a sharp increase in the number and types of networks used in health care. Despite this growth, our understanding of how these networks are governed has not kept pace. The purpose of this chapter is to chart a research agenda for scholars who are interested in studying health care network governance (i.e., the systems of rules and decision-making within networks), which is of particular importance in deliberate networks between organizations. We do so based on our knowledge of the literature and interviews with subject matter experts, both of which are used to identify core network governance concepts that represent gaps in our current knowledge. Our analysis identified various conceptualizations of networks and of their governance, as well as four primary knowledge gaps: "bread and butter" studies of network governance in health care, the role of single organizations in managing health care networks, governance through the life-cycle stages of health care networks, and governing across the multiple levels of health care networks. We first seek to provide some conceptual clarity around networks and network governance. Subsequently, we describe some of the challenges that researchers may confront while addressing the associated knowledge gaps and potential ways to overcome these challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResponding to the Grand Challenges in Health Care via Organizational Innovation
Subtitle of host publicationNeeded Advances in Management Research
EditorsStephen M. Shortell, Lawton Robert Burns, Jennifer L. Hefner
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)978-1-80382-320-1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2022

Publication series

SeriesAdvances in Health Care Management


  • Humans
  • Health Facilities
  • Organizations
  • Research Personnel
  • Delivery of Health Care


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