The transformation of a health care system: An ecology perspective

L. Maxine Nicholson, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Beginning in the early 1980s, the health care system experienced momentous realignments. Fundamental changes in structures of traditional health care organizations, shifts in authority and relationships of professionals and institutions, and the increasing influence of managed care contributed to a relatively stable industry entering into a state of turbulence. The dynamics of these changes are recurring themes in the health services literature. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the content of this literature over a defined time period and within the perspective of a theory of organizational change. Using a theoretical framework based upon the organizational theory known as Organizational Ecology, secondary data from the period between 1983 and 1994 was reviewed. Analysis of the literature identified through a defined search methodology was focused upon determining the manner in which the literature characterized changes that were described. Using a model constructed from fundamentals of Organizational Ecology with which to structure an assessment of content, literature was summarized for the manner and extent of change in specific organizational forms and for the changes in emphasis by the environmental dynamics directing changes in the population of organizations. Although it was not the intent of the analysis to substantiate causal relationships between environmental resources selected as the determinants of organizational change and the observed changes in organizational forms, the structured review of content of the literature established a strong basis for inferring such a relationship. The results of the integrative review of the literature and the power of the appraisal achieved through the theoretical framework constructed for the analysis indicate that there is considerable value in such an approach. An historical perspective on changes which have transformed the health care system developed within a defined organizational theory provide a unique insight into these changes and indicate the need for further development of such an analytical model.

Subject Area

Health care

Recommended Citation

Nicholson, L. Maxine, "The transformation of a health care system: An ecology perspective" (1998). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9916067.