Exploring the organizational culture of exemplary community health center practices

Fam Med. 2004 Nov-Dec;36(10):733-8.


Background and objectives: A 1999 precursor to this study, published in Family Medicine, suggested that the organizational culture of practices was potentially important to health care providers and patients. In this research, we examined the experiences of people working in exemplary community health center practices to explore the components and maintaining factors of positive medical organizational culture.

Methods: Two exemplary practices were identified through a process of nominations and selection with respect to a presumptive definition of positive organizational culture. Interpretive categories and themes were developed through qualitative content analysis of semi-structured interviews, along with field observation.

Results: Categories of culture in these practices included Community Mission and Values, Leadership and Organizational Dynamics, Relationships, and Physical Space. Cultural qualities were nurtured by leadership approaches, collaborative staff meetings, and shared values about mission and workplace relationships. Staff consistently indicated that the spirit or culture in their practices was beneficial for employees, patients, and the process of clinical care.

Conclusions: The positive organizational culture in these practices was substantially characterized and cultivated by specific values, attitudes, behaviors, and relationships of employees. Further work is indicated in approaches to assessment and intervention with organizational culture in medical settings and in evaluating associations with medical outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Community Health Centers / organization & administration*
  • Community Networks / organization & administration*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Family Practice / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Social Values*
  • Sociology, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States