Shared accountability in distributed leadership for improved healthcare access: a study of a US dental institution

A. Erin Bass, Ivana Milosevic, Mary Uhl-Bien, Sucheta Nadkarni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Accountability within distributed leadership (DL) is critical for DL to drive positive outcomes in health services organizations. Despite this, how accountability emerges in DL is less clear. This study aims to understand how accountability emerges in DL so that distributed leaders can drive improvements in healthcare access – an increasingly important outcome in today’s health services environment. Design/methodology/approach: The authors use an instrumental case study of a dental institution in the USA, “Environ,” as it underwent a strategic change to improve healthcare access to rural populations. The authors focused on DL occurring within the strategic change and collected interview, observation and archival data. Findings: The findings demonstrate accountability in DL emerged as shared accountability and has three elements: personal ownership, agentic actions and a shared belief system. Each of these was necessary for DL to advance the strategic change for improved healthcare access. Practical implications: Top managers should be cognizant of the emergence processes driven by DL. This includes enabling pockets of employees to connect, align and link up so that ideas, processes and practices can emerge and allow for shared accountability in DL. Originality/value: The overarching contribution of this research is identifying shared accountability in DL and its three elements: personal ownership, agentic actions and a shared belief system. These elements serve as a platform to demonstrate “how DL works” in a healthcare organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLeadership in Health Services
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Case study
  • Distributed leadership
  • Healthcare access
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Health Policy

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