Social capital in healthcare : A resource for sustainable engagement in organizational improvement work

Abstract: Social capital, work engagement, working conditions, and leadership are concepts that have been studied previously, but there is lack of knowledge about what processes promote sustainable organizational improvement work in hospitals, and specifically, what leads healthcare professionals to engage in clinical developments.The overall aim of this thesis is to increase knowledge of how social capital and engagement contribute to sustainable organizational improvement work in hospitals and how social capital and engagement are created during organizational improvement work. Data were collected by a questionnaire at three times over a period of two years at five hospitals and all studies are quantitative.The results show that improved working conditions and employees’ attitudes to engagement in improvement work are associated with and have importance for healthcare professionals’ work engagement and clinical engagement in improving care processes (Study I). Job demands, social capital, and other job resources are associated with healthcare professionals’ intention to leave their jobs, whereas high levels of social capital are associated with low levels of intention to leave (Study II). Increased social capital predicted healthcare professionals’ job satisfaction, work engagement, and engagement in patient safety (Study III). Leadership is shown to be important for healthcare professionals’ social capital, and levels of leadership quality correlate with levels of social capital over time (Study IV).In conclusion, social capital, increased job resources, and decreased job demands are important conditions for healthcare professionals’ engagement in organizational improvement work. To develop social capital, leadership quality is an important precondition. Social capital can be regarded as a resource for sustainable organizational improvement work in healthcare, because of its importance for healthcare professionals’ engagement, job satisfaction, and intention to leave.