Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 721 - Health Management

15 Points

Not offered in 2019



The application of general management principles to health organisations and services, with particular reference to the nature of health organisations, managing with professionals, working with teams and designing teamwork, leadership in change, improving service delivery and organisational performance in a turbulent environment.

Course information

Goals of the course

This is a course aimed at applying general management principles, skills and techniques in the health sector. Particular attention is paid to managing in the context of professional organisations.


Learning outcomes

After completing this course, students should have:

1. An appreciation of what health management entails and why health organizations behave as they do.

2. An understanding of how organisations should function if they are to meet their goals and objectives; and why they do not always operate as people think they should;

3. A knowledge of effective health care teams and team leadership and implications of designing teams around the patient;

4. An understanding of managing change and effective leadership of health care teams.


Content outline

This is a course aimed at applying general management principles, skills and techniques in the health sector. Particular attention is paid to managing in the context of professional organisations.

Day 1

The focus of Day 1 is, first, to consider the characteristics of health services and the health workforce, and second, to explore the role of health services managers in that context. We commence the day by reflecting on the health sector in New Zealand in an ever changing environment, and implications for health services management. Current developments and the implications for management will be highlighted. Many health service managers have clinical backgrounds: we will consider the skills and competencies that are transferrable from one role to the other. By the end of the day you should have a basic understanding of what health management entails and the health services context of management.

Day 2

Building on Day 1, we go on to discuss theories on how organisations should function. Within these accounts, we reflect on which of the theories best describe different types of health care organisations in contemporary society- both public and private. Then we question whether these accounts or theories do a good job of describing organisations as we actually find them. We also consider different ways of looking at the world of management and see how powerful it can be to look at problems and issues from different perspectives and how choosing the best perspective can be used in problem solving in organisational settings.

Day 3

Managing work with teams and leading health care teams are important attributes of managers of health services. On Day 3 we examine teams, teamwork, and consider some of the issues -positive and negative- that may arise. In such circumstances conflict is a possibility. The proposition is advanced that conflict is natural and that is to be expected in organisations- health care organisations in particular. Ways of dealing with conflict are discussed as well as ways of handling the countless difficult conversations that take place in health settings. Work and levels of work are considered, and we reflect on how working at the right level for the individual is related to performance. Implications for teams of a focus on designing work and teams around the patient are considered.

Day 4

Day 4 focuses on key management issues in today’s health services. The first of these is change and the management of change. We then explore the concepts of health service productivity: what it means, how it can be improved. Leadership is important when change is being introduced and in raising productivity; sometimes change and productivity improvement are connected. We pay particular attention to the dual role of managing to the agenda of those in governance while supporting the professionals who do important work in health organisations.


Learning resources

A coursebook outlining the course is given to each student enrolling before mid February two weeks in advance of their first day of class. Readings are available on the course homepage through the library.

There is no required text book but the following is strongly recommended:

Harris Mary G. and Associates [ed] Managing Health Services: Concepts and Practice. 2nd edition. 2006 Elsevier Australia.

Other relevant texts to the course are:

Shortell, Stephen and Kaluzny, Arnold. Health Care Management. 3rd edition. Delmar Publishers. New York.

Bolman, L. and Deal, T.E. Reframing Organisations- Artistry, Choice and Leadership. Jossey Bass. San Francisco.*

*Note this text is also available on-line to University of Auckland students



The course is internally assessed based on three written pieces of work. Each piece of work is to be directed to the context of an organisational case study that you write, e.g. based on your own experience. The relative weightings are shown below:

• Assignment 1 (20%): an essay related to the application of aspects of the theoretical basis of health management to a health management issue.

• Assignment 2: (40%): an assignment focusing on an aspect of the health professional team and team leadership

• Assignment 3 (40%): an assignment related to improving productivity OR managing change with implications for leadership


Programme and course advice

This is a recommended course for the health services management pathway in the public health programme, as well as for a general pathway.

It is a required course for the Postgraduate Diploma in Business in Health Management.

It is also an optional course for the BHSc honours programme.

Contact information

Email: pgpophealth@auckland.ac.nz

Phone: +64 (0) 9 9232760

Course Coordinator

Course Administrator