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Purpose: Acute health services around the world are increasingly required to respond to accreditation institutes, the changing needs and expectations of patients and societal values that demand continuous improvement in quality and efficiencies. Many change initiatives and innovative attempts have failed or resulted in lower performance than expected. The purpose of this paper is to increase understanding of the organisational contextual factors such as social capital and organisational climate that interact with the change implementation processes and provide a new perspective for change management in the unique environment of acute health care.
Methodology: This mixed methods study was executed in three different sized operating theatre suites. A survey and in-depth interviews were used to reveal a current organisational climate for innovativeness through team member perspectives. The strength of each organisational climate was assessed with reference to the level of disparity in the participant responses. In-depth interviews and observations provided understanding of how social capital is developed and maintained, then examined in context with the climate for innovativeness to understand how contextual factors, social capital and climate interact.
Findings: It has been demonstrated that social capital in the operating theatre suite has bearing on the organisational climate for change and innovativeness. Size and structure of an organisation influence how social networks develop; policies and management practices influence how different networks interact; and, the combination of contextual factors and social capital influences the organisational climate for innovativeness.
Originality/value: Managing social capital can offer a people-focused perspective through which to design and implement change and enhance an organisational climate for innovativeness.