Resource dependency and strategy in healthcare organizations during a time of scarce resources: evidence from the metropolitan area of Cologne

Lena Ansmann, Vera Vennedey, Hendrik Ansgar Hillen, Stephanie Stock, Ludwig Kuntz, Holger Pfaff, Russell Mannion, Kira Isabel Hower

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Purpose: Healthcare systems are under pressure to improve their performance, while at the same time facing severe resource constraints, particularly workforce shortages. By applying resource-dependency-theory (RDT), we explore how healthcare organizations in different settings perceive pressure arising from uncertain access to resources and examine organizational strategies they deploy to secure resources.

Design/methodology/approach: A cross-sectional survey of key decision-makers in different healthcare settings in the metropolitan area of Cologne, Germany, on perceptions of pressure arising from the environment and respective strategies was conducted. For comparisons between settings radar charts, Kruskal–Wallis test and Fisher–Yates test were applied. Additionally, correlation analyses were conducted.

Findings: A sample of n = 237(13%) key informants participated and reported high pressure caused by bureaucracy, time constraints and recruiting qualified staff. Hospitals, inpatient and outpatient nursing care organizations felt most pressurized. As suggested by RDT, organizations in highly pressurized settings deployed the most vociferous strategies to secure resources, particularly in relation to personnel development.

Originality/value: This study is one of the few studies that focuses on the environment's impact on healthcare organizations across a variety of settings. RDT is a helpful theoretical foundation for understanding the environment's impact on organizational strategies. The substantial variations found between healthcare settings indicate that those settings potentially require specific strategies when seeking to address scarce resources and high demands. The results draw attention to the high level of pressure on healthcare organizations which presumably is passed down to managers, healthcare professionals, patients and relatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-227
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Health, Organization and Management
Issue number9
Early online date7 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2021


  • Resources
  • Shortage
  • Resource-dependency
  • Strategy
  • Organization
  • Healthcare
  • Environment
  • Pressure
  • Personnel development


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