Treating an unhealthy organisational culture : the implications of the Bundaberg Hospital inquiry for managerial ethical decision making

Casali, Gian Luca & Day, Gary E. (2010) Treating an unhealthy organisational culture : the implications of the Bundaberg Hospital inquiry for managerial ethical decision making. Australian Health Review, 34(1), pp. 73-79.

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Abstract

This paper explores the interplay between individual values, espoused organisational values and the values of the organisational culture in practice in light of a recent Royal Commission in Queensland, Australia, which highlighted systematic failures in patient care. The lack of congruence among values at these levels impacts upon the ethical decision making of health managers. The presence of institutional ethics regimes such as the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld) and agency codes of conduct are not sufficient to counteract the negative influence of informal codes of practice that undermine espoused organisational values and community standards. The ethical decision-making capacity of health care managers remains at the front line in the battle against unethical and unprofessional practice.

What is known about the topic? Value congruence theory focusses on the conflicts between individual and organisational values. Congruence between individual values, espoused values and values expressed in everyday practice can only be achieved by ensuring that such shared values are an ever-present factor in managerial decision making.

What does this paper add? The importance of value congruence in building and sustaining a healthy organisational culture is confirmed by the evidence presented in the Bundaberg Hospital Inquiry. The presence of strong individual values among staff and strong espoused values in line with community expectations and backed up by legislation and ethics regimes were not, in themselves, sufficient to ensure a healthy organisational culture and prevent unethical, and possibly illegal, behaviour.

What are the implications for practitioners? Managers must incorporate ethics in decision making to establish and maintain the nexus between individual and organisational values that is a vital component of a healthy organisational culture.

Impact and interest:

4 citations in Scopus
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8 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 38460
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Organisational Culture, Bundaberg Hospital , Decision Making, Ethics
DOI: 10.1071/AH09543
ISSN: 0156-5788
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Organisational Behaviour (150311)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Deposited On: 12 Nov 2010 00:38
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 14:15

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