Organizational hybridity in a university hospital. A social systems theoretical perspective

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, L10

Topic of the dissertation

Organizational hybridity in a university hospital. A social systems theoretical perspective

Doctoral candidate

M.Sc. Economics and Business Administration Kaisu Jansson

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Management and International Business

Subject of study

Management and Organizations


Associate Professor Justine Grønbæk Pors, Copenhagen Business School


Professor Juha Tuunainen, University of Oulu

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Organizational hybridity in a university hospital

Finnish public healthcare organizations operate in the nexus of diverse societal pressures. The aging population, limited availability of healthcare professionals, scarce funding, and the significant reform of the social and healthcare system, challenge the organizations. In this changing environment, healthcare organizations are searching for new ways of organizing. A university hospital's testing laboratory focused on co-development of healthcare technology and a novel collaboration network spanning sectoral boundaries studied in Kaisu Jansson's doctoral dissertation are examples of such new ways, and they are approached through the concept of hybridity.

In organization research, hybridity commonly refers to the simultaneous existence of, often environmentally generated, contrasting operational logics in an organization. The dissertation, instead, defines hybridity through Luhmannian social systems theory as an organization's increasing internal complexity due to new connections between the organization and its environment. Hence, the university hospital's testing laboratory and the collaboration network are considered to reflect the hospital's self-determined connections to the surrounding society, especially the economy, politics, science and education. The dissertation examines how hybridization is advanced and what effect it has for the hospital.

Qualitative research methods are utilized in the dissertation's empirical analysis. The research concentrates on three themes: advancing hybridization in organizational networks, hybridization's effects on decision-making and on organizational identity that guides its operations. The research results reveal how public organizations search for new possibilities from the surrounding society for example through a novel future-oriented, open-ended, partnership network. The study observes three types of mechanisms in the network's operations, bridging between different actors, processing of meanings related to the network, and validation of operations, in attempts to create new connections between organizations. In turn, the testing laboratory brings together especially public healthcare and the private sector in a novel way, and the setting up of the laboratory demands developing the hospital's decision-making.

Three types of strategies, justification of decisions through observed problems, previous experiences and the hospital's obligations, are observed in the study to be developed to ensure the stability of decisions related to the testing laboratory. In regards to organizational identity, the study observes that connecting to the economy through the testing laboratory demands the new structures to be included into the hospital's primary self-description as a healthcare organization. In addition, the testing laboratory is found to enable the hospital to create self-descriptions as a societal contributor, a pioneer and an intelligent future hospital, which positively distinguish the hospital from others.

The doctoral dissertation brings about a novel approach for understanding and researching nontraditional forms of organizing. In addition, the research results can stimulate reflection in actors in cross-sectoral organizational contexts especially regarding connection-generating mechanisms, decision-making, and self-descriptions guiding organizational action.
Last updated: 5.4.2024