Reducing patient mortality in hospitals: the role of human resource management

Michael A. West, James P. Guthrie, Jeremy F. Dawson, Carol S. Borrill, Matthew Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developing effective health care organizations is increasingly complex as a result of demographic changes, globalization, and developments in medicine. This study examines the potential contribution of organizational behavior theory and research by investigating the relationship between systems of human resource management (HRM) practices and effectiveness of patient care in hospitals. Relatively little research has been conducted to explore these issues in health care settings. In a sample of 52 hospitals in England, we examine the relationship between the HRM system and health care outcome. Specifically, we study the association between high performance HRM policies and practices and standardized patient mortality rates. The research reveals that, after controlling for prior mortality and other potentially confounding factors such as the ratio of doctors to patients, greater use of a complementary set of HRM practices has a statistically and practically significant relationship with patient mortality. The findings suggest that managers and policy makers should focus sharply on improving the functioning of relevant HR management systems in health care organizations as one important means by which to improve patient care. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-1002
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number7
Early online date21 Sept 2006
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • effective
  • health care organizations
  • development
  • demographic changes
  • globalization
  • developments in medicine
  • organizational behavior theory
  • human resource management
  • HRM
  • patient care
  • hospitals
  • health care
  • patient
  • mortality rates


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