Organizational Change in Complex Systems: Organizational and Leadership Factors in the Introduction of Open Dialogue to Mental Health Care Services

Elizabeth Lennon, Liza Hopkins, Rochelle Einboden, Andrea McCloughen, Lisa Dawson, Niels Buus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Conventional mental health services are frequently criticized for failing to support people and communities in their care. Open Dialogue is a non-conventional humanistic approach to mental health care, which has been implemented in many different settings globally. At two Australian public health care services, implementation of the approach led to positive client outcomes and sustained organizational and clinical change. The aim of the study was to identify and explore the organizational, management, leadership and cultural factors that contributed to sustained implementation in these complex systems. We conducted nine individual semi-structured interviews of health care leaders and managers from the two sites. Transcriptions of the interviews were analyzed thematically. Leaders facilitated a gradual development of clinical and organizational legitimacy for the non-standardized Open Dialogue approach by holding the anxiety and frustration of practitioners and parts of the administration, cultivating cultural change and adaptation and by continually removing organizational obstacles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95–104
Number of pages10
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Adaptive leadership
  • Complex systems
  • Open dialogue
  • Organizational change
  • Public mental healthcare services

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