Exploring changes in integration, differentiation, rules, coordination and performance following the introduction of a hospital planning centre: a case study

Annelies van der Ham*, Arno Van Raak, Dirk Ruwaard, Frits van Merode

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


PURPOSE: This study explores how a hospital works, which is important for further enhancing hospital performance. Following the introduction of a Hospital Planning Centre (HPC), changes are explored in a hospital in terms of integration (the coordination and alignment of tasks), differentiation (the extent to which tasks are segmented into subsystems), rules, coordination mechanisms and hospital performance.

DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: A case study was conducted examining the hospital's social network, rules, coordination mechanisms and performance both before and after the introduction of the HPC. All planning and execution tasks for surgery patients were studied using a naturalistic inquiry and mixed-method approach.

FINDINGS: After the introduction of the HPC, the overall network structure and coordination mechanisms and coordination mechanisms remained largely the same. Integration and certain rules changed for specific planning tasks. Differentiation based on medical discipline remained. The number of local rules decreased and hospital-wide rules increased, and these remained largely in people's minds. Coordination mechanisms remained largely unchanged, primarily involving mutual adjustment and standardization of work both before and after the introduction of the HPC. Overall, the hospital's performance did not change substantially. The findings suggest that integration seems to "emerge" instead of being designed. Hospitals could benefit, we argue, from a more conscious system-wide approach that includes collective learning and information sharing.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE: This exploratory study provides in-depth insight into how a hospital works, yielding important knowledge for further research and the enhancement of hospital performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-178
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Health, Organisation and Management
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2022


  • Hospital Planning
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Integration
  • Rules
  • Coordination mechanisms
  • Hospital planning
  • Performance

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