Waiting lists in Dutch health care: an analysis from an organization theoretical perspective

J Health Organ Manag. 2006;20(4):294-308. doi: 10.1108/14777260610680104.


Purpose: To develop propositions on why public policies towards decreasing waiting list in health care can be expected to be unsuccessful.

Design/methodology/approach: On the basis of a case study of public policies directed towards the reduction of the waiting lists in health care a number of propositions are formulated explaining why this policy has turned out to be ineffective. The propositions are based on theoretical insights form the field of organizations studies about the behavior of organizations and professionals.

Findings: It is demonstrated that public policies on reducing waiting lists in the Dutch health care system are likely to be ineffective because the policy-making strategies used are based on unrealistic assumptions about the behavior of organizations and professionals who are expected to reduce the waiting lists.

Research limitations/implications: Although the propositions are based on established organization literature, empirically they are only based on one case study.

Practical implications: In order to develop effective policy interventions it is important to be realistic about the behavior and strategies of the actors towards which the policy is directed. Moreover, rather than directing exclusive attention to those waiting, it is important for policy makers to address the interdependencies of the organizational field in which waiting lists occur.

Originality/value: This paper gives directions to policy makers who need to deal with complex and interdependent problems.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • National Health Programs / organization & administration*
  • Netherlands
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Public Policy
  • Waiting Lists*