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Title: Constructing reform in the Ethiopian healthcare system : unintended consequences for hospitals and patients
Author: McKnight, Jacob
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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In the last decade, the reach of New Public Management (NPM) has stretched well beyond its Western origins as modernising African governments and their global health partners have sought to import new approaches. Public health systems in Africa are entirely different to those of the West however, and this sort of application introduces a number of contextually-specific questions that are not considered by the majority of the NPM literature. The few studies that do investigate NPM in Africa are evaluative in content, seeking to understand whether reforms work and to identify barriers to success. Invariably, whether they find in favour of public management reform or not, the same issues are highlighted: lack of capacity, weak institutions, and improper implementation. This thesis will build a theory of NPM reform that is particular to the African context. I develop this theoretical extension through an intensive ethnographic case study of one of the most important on-going public health reform efforts in Africa—the transformation of the entire Ethiopian hospital system to an NPM-style administrative regime. I develop a constructionist theory of African NPM through thick description of the hospitals under reform. I detail the various ways in which the reforms are indigenised as they meet up with local understandings, institutions, and market contexts, and the inevitable unintended consequences as managers seek to ‘make do’ in environments radically different to those of NPM’s origins. I then conduct a detailed consumer analysis to describe the strategies employed by patients seeking care. Patients from different class positions use very different strategies to get health services and I demonstrate that the reform has very different consequences for Ethiopians across classes. Many patients are not recognisable as the ‘customers’ described in the reform documents, and so the hospitals do not organise their reform efforts to serve them.
Supervisor: Holt, Douglas Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology of policy ; Organisational behaviour ; Marketing ; Public Health ; Consumption ; New Public Management ; Developing Countries