Management development for primary health care: a framework for analysis

Int J Health Plann Manage. 1991 Apr-Jun;6(2):109-24. doi: 10.1002/hpm.4740060204.


Strengthening management has been widely promoted as a critical component of any strategy concerned with improving the implementation of primary health care (PHC). Management development programmes are, however, subject to conflicting demands and differing expectations. The situation is confounded by the wide diversity of strategies subsumed under the heading of management development, and the confusing nature of much of the terminology currently in use. This article presents a simple conceptual framework that can guide analysis and help programme planners review the options, opportunities and limitations of management development programmes. The framework presented examines management development from three different perspectives: the approach adopted; the outcomes expected; and the process of expansion, extension and adaptation. Our analysis of management development strategies allows us to reach some conclusions in areas where there is a degree of consensus. In countries where there is a mismatch between the strategies of PHC and the organizational structures through which they are to be implemented, management development has a role to play in effecting change. Its potential to do so is limited by powerful social, political, economic and organizational forces. Therefore, the capacity to critically analyse the context in which change is planned, emerges as a key element in programme design. We argue that there is no one best approach to management development, and the design of strategies will be contingent on a variety of factors. We do, however, reaffirm the view that where organizational structures and conditions do not support the implementation of PHC strategies, intervention through training alone is almost certain to be inadequate. To be effective, a more comprehensive programme will be required. Finally, the article points to a number of unresolved issues in areas where there is either controversy, lack of clarity or limited experience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Planning / organization & administration*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • National Health Programs / organization & administration*
  • Planning Techniques
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*