Surviving neoliberalism, maintaining values: Community health mergers in Victoria, Australia

Veronique Roussy, Charles Livingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Independent, not-for-profit community health services in the state of Victoria, Australia, provide one of that country's few models of comprehensive primary health care (PHC). Recent amalgamations among some such agencies created regional-sized community health organisations, in a departure from this sector's traditionally small local structure. This study explored the motivations, desired outcomes, and decision-making process behind these mergers. Methodology: Qualitative exploratory study was based on 26 semistructured interviews with key informants associated with 2 community health mergers, which took place in 2014 in Victoria, Australia. Thematic data analysis was influenced by concepts derived from institutional theory. Findings: Becoming bigger by merging was viewed as the best way to respond to mounting external pressures, such as increasingly neoliberal funding mechanisms, perceived as threatening survival. Desired outcomes were driven by comprehensive PHC values, and related to creating organisational capacity to continue providing quality services to disadvantaged communities. Originality/value: This study offers insights into decision-making processes geared towards protecting the comprehensiveness of PHC service delivery for disadvantaged communities, ensuring financial viability, and surviving neoliberal economic policy whilst preserving communitarian values. These are relevant to an international audience, within a global context of rising health inequities, increasingly tight fiscal environments, and growing neoliberal influences on health policymaking and funding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e636-e647
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Health Planning and Management
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Australia
  • mergers
  • Neoliberalism
  • organisational behaviour
  • Primary Health Care

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