Sustainability of collaborative networks in healthcare: a resources and capabilities perspective
Chong, Josephine Leng Leng
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This research focuses on inter-organizational collaborative networks. Organizations are increasingly forming inter-organizational networks, because of the benefits accruing to organizations through acquiring, complementing or sharing resources and competencies. In spite of a rich literature on the motives and benefits for forming inter-organizational networks, the post-formation management of such networks has been relatively less explored. Further, while attention has been given to the advantages accruing to an individual organisation through its participation in a network, the concept of inter-organizational networks that collaborate to pursue a joint strategic objective is less well explored. This thesis aims to understand how collaborative inter-organizational networks are sustained. That is, how they manage their on-going inter-organizational relationships in the collaborative pursuit of a common objective. To address this research aim, a conceptual framework is developed that proposes key initial concepts in exploring sustained collaborative network processes. The extensive theoretical literature on strategic collaboration, resources and capabilities that has been accumulated over several decades is reviewed and used to develop a conceptual framework for answering the research question: How are network-level resources and capabilities utilised to sustain inter-organizational collaborative networks? Rather than focusing on individual organizations’ utilisation of network resources as a basis for competitive advantage, the emphasis is on collaboration and the use of resources and capabilities developed by a network to sustain the network while it pursues a common goal or joint strategic objective. A multiple case study research design, involving semi-structured interviews and documentation review, is used to study four healthcare collaborative networks in New Zealand and Singapore. The four cases cover collaborative networks in healthcare product development and healthcare service delivery, and include both sustained and non-sustained networks. A thematic analysis of the qualitative data collected in each case study is used to refine the conceptual framework developed in the study, and to explore the dimensions and properties of its proposed resources and capabilities. Both within-case and cross-case analyses are conducted to establish the utility of the conceptual framework for understanding and explaining collaborative network sustainability. This thesis presents a number of theoretical and practical contributions and provides suggestions for future research on this topic.