Network resilience in the face of health system reform

Rod Sheaff*, Lawrence Benson, Lou Farbus, Jill Schofield, Russell Mannion, David Reeves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


Many health systems now use networks as governance structures. Network 'macroculture' is the complex of artefacts, espoused values and unarticulated assumptions through which network members coordinate network activities. Knowledge of how network macroculture during 2006-2008 develops is therefore of value for understanding how health networks operate, how health system reforms affect them, and how networks function (and can be used) as governance structures. To examine how quasi-market reforms impact upon health networks' macrocultures we systematically compared longitudinal case studies of these impacts across two care networks, a programme network and a user-experience network in the English NHS. We conducted interviews with key informants, focus groups, non-participant observations of meetings and analyses of key documents. We found that in these networks, artefacts adapted to health system reform faster than espoused values did, and the latter adapted faster than basic underlying assumptions. These findings contribute to knowledge by providing empirical support for theories which hold that changes in networks' core practical activity are what stimulate changes in other aspects of network macroculture. The most powerful way of using network macroculture to manage the formation and operation of health networks therefore appears to be by focusing managerial activity on the ways in which networks produce their core artefacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-786
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Commissioning
  • Culture
  • England
  • Health systems
  • Networks
  • NHS
  • Quasi-market

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    Sheaff, R., Benson, L., Farbus, L., Schofield, J., Mannion, R., & Reeves, D. (2010). Network resilience in the face of health system reform. Social Science and Medicine, 70(5), 779-786.