Social Capital and Primary Care Professionals' Accomplishment of Management Targets

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 5:54 PM
Room: 414
Oral Presentation
Laura GONZ┴LEZ , UniversitÓ della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland
Federico LEGA , Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy
Stefano CALCIOLARI , UniversitÓ della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland
It has been argued that fostering cooperation among general practitioners (GPs) and between GPs and other professional groups (e.g., nurses, hospital specialists) contributes to improve performances. A relevant factor influencing such cooperation is the social capital (Inkpen & Tsang, 2005; Reagans & Zuckerman, 2001). We interpret such factor as the informal ties existing within professionals and organization members and instrumental to exploit valuable resources such as information and knowledge.

We aim to provide insight on the influence of socio-demographic and organizational characteristics of GP practices on the social structure of each physician’s advice ego-network, and on whether such social relationships lead to performance improvement.  

We collected data by means of a questionnaire covering specific aspects of social capital and administered to the GPs of a Local Health Unit (LHU) in Italy. Moreover, we gathered data concerning GPs’ logistical arrangements and performance (in terms of meeting targets of appropriate pharmaceutical prescriptions).

Social network analysis was used to measure the composition (degree and closeness), heterogeneity and homophily (Abbasi et al., 2012; McCarty, 2002) of the personal advice networks of respondents (response rate: 58%) and to test, on one hand, whether logistic or demographic characteristics influence such measures, on the other hand, whether such measures (representing proxies of social capital) influence GPs’ performance.

The study provides insights on the capabilities hidden in the informal relationships of primary care professionals. In addition, it enhances our understanding of the determinants of GPs’ organizational performance, which is both an important issue for policy makers and an intriguing facet of the shift between clinical professionals and management.