Falkenström, Erica ; Höglund, Anna T | 2019
The purpose of this paper is to analyse ethical competence related to healthcare governance and management tasks at the county/regional level in Sweden. The paper also discusses conditions that support or constrain the development and application of such competence.
The study is based on original qualitative data from 13 interviews and 6 meeting observations. Three key groups of actors were included: politicians, civil servants and CEOs in publicly financed health-provider organizations. An abductive analysis was carried out by a stepwise method guided by thematic research questions.
The informants viewed themselves as having a high degree of ethical responsibility for healthcare practice. However, they did not integrate ethical reflection and dialogue into their work decisions (e.g. regarding budgets, reforms and care agreements). The current organization, control systems and underlying business principles, along with the individuals’ understanding of their own and others’ roles, tended to constrain the development and use of ethical competence.
Qualities of an appropriate ethical competence related to healthcare governance and management, and conditions to develop and use such competence, are suggested.
Hardly any empirical research has examined ethical competence related to healthcare governance and management tasks. The paper integrates ethics and theories on learning in organizations and contributes knowledge about ethical competence and the conditions necessary to develop and practise ethical competence in an organizational and inter-organizational context.