Leadership, culture, and organizational technologies as absorptive capacity for innovation and transformation in the healthcare sector: A framework for research

Bita A. Kash, Aaron Spaulding, Larry D. Gamm, Christopher Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Organizational transformation, in brief, is the profound reshaping of the organization's and its people's performance. The same transformational initiative might prove effective in one health system yet not another. Variations in success also exist across facilities, departments, or other units within a healthcare organization. Such variations remain relatively unexplored in the literature. We propose that some of these variations might be due to levels of absorptive capacity (ACAP), the ability to discover and exploit innovation, across and within healthcare organizations. The purpose of this article is to provide a research framework and recommend a measurement model for the study of ACAP for transformations in the healthcare setting. To develop a framework for ACAP for transformation, we reviewed 118 peer-reviewed journal articles, 36 books or book sections and two websites related to transformation and ACAP. We also reviewed literature covering related topics, including ACAP measurement models, organizational learning, organizational change, innovation, complex adaptive systems, strategy execution, organizational technologies, leadership, and culture. This comprehensive review of literature covered fields of sociology, organizational theory, management science, and systems theory. The approach sought a parsimonious framework sufficient to capture the significant complexities of ACAP for transformation in healthcare. Our proposed framework of measuring ACAP in healthcare organizations encompasses three dimensions: leadership (L), culture (C), and organizational technologies (OT) that are relevant to transformative change. By applying this LCOT framework in measuring ACAP levels associated with transformation issues, barriers, and outcomes, we propose that constraints can be identified and addressed, and successful implementation of transformational initiatives can be realized. Capturing and tracking the level of ACAP will help healthcare leaders with improving transformation implementation and success, making informed decisions about timing and selection of initiatives, and decisions about continuation or contraction of specific transformations within specific departments, teams or their healthcare system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalChange Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Absorptive capacity
  • Culture
  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Organizational capacity
  • Transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management


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