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Title: An exploration of the management of intangible resources in hospitals
Author: Zigan, Krystin
ISNI:       0000 0001 3577 9251
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2008
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The aim of the research was to explore the meaning of intangible resources in different European hospitals. Specific objectives were the identification of key intangible resources and the exploration of their management and utilisation. In this context, a further objective was to analyse the impact of various contextual factors, such as public sector regulations, on the management of intangible resources. The three objectives provided the structure for a theoretical model, which formed the framework of the research. It is based on a strategic perspective on intangible resources. Thus, despite the great variety of intangible resources in hospitals, the model limits its focus to certain intangible resources that have been identified as important in the literature and preliminary study. Since the literature revealed that the management of intangible resources is strongly related to operational management tools such as human resource management and knowledge management, the model comprises related activities. The validity of the theoretical model was tested through primary research, which was undertaken in two stages. The preliminary study was exploratory and aimed to investigate the extent to which important intangible resources are considered in the performance measurement systems of hospitals. This was realised through qualitative semi-structured interviews with senior and middle managers at various European hospitals. The second part of the research focused on the identification of specific intangible resources that were important for achieving high performance services. It investigated how the management of intangible resources was carried out and what kind of contextual factors were influential. For this, the theoretical model was tested by applying a single embedded case study approach. The case study was carried out in a German university hospital. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with top and middle managers and the employees of a single department provided insight into the awareness and utilisation of intangible resources. The findings of the research confirmed the importance of specific intangible resources for hospitals, such as knowledge, the attitude towards the organisation and the creation of partnerships with external service providers. In addition, intangible resources such as internal social relationships were identified as highly important. The research refers to them as social capital. Analysis of the efforts regarding the management of social capital, however, revealed that there was not enough awareness of its significance. It seemed that the lack of attention regarding the meaning of social capital hampered the utilisation of other intangible resources. In this context, the importance of communication and identification with the organisation was highlighted. Although the literature has not explicitly considered the impact of contextual factors on the management of intangible resources, the research found that public sector regulations, the profile of staff, and the style of leadership in particular influence the management and utilisation of intangible resources. The research enhances knowledge of the awareness and management of intangible resources in hospitals. It contributes to the related literature in that the importance of specific intangible resources was revealed or confirmed. Further, the research significantly extended knowledge of various factors that influence the management of intangible resources.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available