The impact of participative management perceptions on customer service, medical errors, burnout, and turnover intentions

J Healthc Manag. 2009 Mar-Apr;54(2):127-40; discussion 141.


Numerous challenges confront managers in the healthcare industry, making it increasingly difficult for healthcare organizations to gain and sustain a competitive advantage. Contemporary management challenges in the industry have many different origins (e.g., economic, financial, clinical, and legal), but there is growing recognition that some of management's greatest problems have organizational roots. Thus, healthcare organizations must examine their personnel management strategies to ensure that they are optimized for fostering a highly committed and productive workforce. Drawing on a sample of 2,522 employees spread across 312 departments within a large U.S. healthcare organization, this article examines the impact of a participative management climate on four employee-level outcomes that represent some of the greatest challenges in the healthcare industry: customer service, medical errors, burnout, and turnover intentions. This study provides clear evidence that employee perceptions of the extent to which their work climate is participative rather than authoritarian have important implications for critical work attitudes and behavior. Specifically, employees in highly participative work climates provided 14 percent better customer service, committed 26 percent fewer clinical errors, demonstrated 79 percent lower burnout, and felt 61 percent lower likelihood of leaving the organization than employees in more authoritarian work climates. These findings suggest that participative management initiatives have a significant impact on the commitment and productivity of individual employees, likely improving the patient care and effectiveness of healthcare organizations as a whole.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Economic Competition
  • Hospital Administrators / psychology*
  • Medical Errors*
  • Personnel Turnover*