Discursive activity in the boardroom


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Discursive activity in the boardroom

  1. 1. http://gom.sagepub.com/ Management Group & Organization http://gom.sagepub.com/content/37/4/486 The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/1059601112449477 June 2012 2012 37: 486 originally published online 28Group & Organization Management William James Fear Construction of Social Realities Discursive Activity in the Boardroom : The Role of the Minutes in the Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com can be found at:Group & Organization ManagementAdditional services and information for http://gom.sagepub.com/cgi/alertsEmail Alerts: http://gom.sagepub.com/subscriptionsSubscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.navReprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.navPermissions: http://gom.sagepub.com/content/37/4/486.refs.htmlCitations: What is This? - Jun 28, 2012OnlineFirst Version of Record - Jul 27, 2012Version of Record>> at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  2. 2. Group & Organization Management 37(4) 486­–520 © The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permission: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1059601112449477 http://gom.sagepub.com 449477GOMXXX10.1177/1059601112449 477FearGroup & Organization Management © The Author(s) 2012 1 Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK Corresponding Author: William James Fear, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University,Aberconway Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU,Wales, UK Email: fearwj@cf.ac.uk Discursive Activity in the Boardroom:  The Role of the Minutes in the Construction of Social Realities William James Fear1 Abstract The board functions at one of the interfaces between the environment and the organization and must take account of competing external and internal discourses.This article explores the institutionalizing activity manifest in the written organizational texts of board meetings of Local Health Boards in Wales. The focus of attention is how the localized discourse (1000 Lives) of an international, industry level, institution (Patient Safety), contributes to institutionalization and deinstitutionalization as recorded in the minutes of the board meetings.The conclusion is that as the boards develop and record their emerging discourse they construct and reconstruct the social reality of their organization.The organizations are composed of fragmented and com- peting discourses with no finality to meaning making, and continual conflict among multiple meanings looking for interpretive control, which the board [re]arranges into a seemingly coherent, unified, and meaningful discourse. Keywords boards, discourse, institutionalization at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  3. 3. Fear 487 Introduction This article examines competing discourses within a set of organizational written texts (the minutes of board meetings). Specifically it explores how these organizational texts of national (Welsh), public sector, health care pro- viders (Local Health Boards; LHBs) took account of the discourses of a global institution, Patient Safety, when faced with immediate and competing discourses from within the organizations. This took place at a time of national organizational reconfiguration with 21 organizations reconfigured into seven LHBs. The understanding in this article is that, in keeping with Organizational Discourse Analysis (ODA), discourses have constituting effects (Alvesson & Karreman, 2011a, 2011b; Hall, 2001; Ricoeur 1971, 1981, 1991; Rosenau, 1992) including the establishment of institutions (Phillips, Lawrence, & Hardy, 2004) and deinstitutionalization (Maguire & Hardy, 2009); the privi- leging and deprivileging of subject positions (Oakes, Townley, & Cooper, 1998; Potter & Wetherell, 1987), and identities (Hardy, Lawrence, & Grant, 2005); and the legitimization and delegitimization of bodies of knowledge (Alvesson & Karreman, 2011a; Boje, Oswick, & Ford, 2004). Organizational discourse analysis is complex and nuanced but the generally accepted principles are that it provides a framework for understanding organi- zational and interorganizational phenomena (Alvesson & Karreman, 2000; Grant, Keenoy, & Oswick, 1998; Hardy & Phillips, 1999; Morgan & Sturdy, 2000; Mumby & Clair, 1997; Putnam & Fairhurst, 2001) and not only empha- sizes the importance of linguistic phenomena but also sees language as funda- mental to the construction of social reality (Chia, 1996; Gergen, 1999). There is no one definitive methodological approach in ODA and there are a variety of approaches (e.g., see Alvesson & Karreman, 2000; Chouiliaraki & Fairclough, 2010; Iedema, 2011; Jaworski & Coupland, 1999; Mumby, 2011; Putnam & Fairhurst, 2001; Wetherell, 2001; Woodilla, 1998; Wood & Kroger, 2000). Phillips et al. (2004) demonstrated the role of texts in the process of insti- tutionalization. Using discourse analysis they developed a model in which institutions are constructed through the production of texts. They note that while institutions do, indeed, have a behavioral component this is essentially transitory. Meanings are created from collections of texts, and from compi- lations of discourses, as individual texts are produced, distributed, and con- sumed. This continued production, distribution, and consumption of texts constitutes institutions. The texts describe and communicate actions, and information about actions, to others (Taylor, Cooren, Giroux, & Robichaud, 1996). Through this process actions are influenced and institutionalization at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  4. 4. 488 Group & Organization Management 37(4) occurs. Institutions are self-policing conventions (e.g., Douglas, 1986) that develop over time from past practices and understandings and result in taken- for-granted facts that shape future practice (e.g., Barley & Tolbert, 1997; DiMaggio & Powell, 1991; Jepperson, 1991; Meyer & Rowan, 1977; Zucker, 1977). Deviations from institutional practices are costly as sanctions— increased costs—are imposed by the institutional members (Jepperson, 1991; Lawrence, Winn, & Jennings, 2001). Costs include economic costs in the form of increased risk, cognitive costs as more thought is required (rather than auto- mated practices), and social costs as legitimacy is reduced with reduced access to resources (Phillips, Lawrence & Hardy, 2000). Institutionalization is the social process through which individuals come to share a social reality (Scott, 1987, 2001). There is the caution that not all discourses result in the construc- tion of institutions and not everything that is socially constructed is an institu- tion. The distinguishing factor is that institutions are self-regulating and exercise control. However, there are challenges to the reification of institu- tionalization in relation to managerial control in postbureaucratic society (e.g., see Raelin, 2011; Spreitzer & Mishra, 1999; Styhre, 2008). The board functions at one of the interfaces between the environment and the organization (e.g., He & Baruch, 2010), and must take account of competing external and internal discourses. The board is one of the “insti- tutional manifestations” of the organization (Parsons, 1960). That is to say, the board is consciously engaged in institutionalizing processes as articu- lated by Parker (2007). These processes include legitimization and the adoption and inculcation of beliefs, and the approving of the routinization of practices. In relation to this, the board meetings, and related meetings, are ritualized and ceremonial organizational activities (e.g. see Islam & Zyphur, 2009; Parker, 2007). The purpose of this project is to describe and critique the organizations’ worlds, their institutions, as they are revealed, re-presented, and re-created, in written text, within the field of health care. This is possible because the texts, in this instance, reveal these processes and worlds as well as constructing them. The use of the term “revealed” does not, here, suggest an objective reality regardless of context. Rather, it is used to indicate that the traces of events recorded in the texts both reveal meaningful actions and are meaningful actions. The question that developed for this article, in keeping with the purpose of the wider project, was as follows. What are the socially constructed organiza- tional (social) worlds, or realities, that are revealed, and re-presented in the text in relation to a particular discourse? And, what are the wider theoreti- cal and practical implications in terms of discourse, and the constructive at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  5. 5. Fear 489 properties of discourse? These questions are set in the context of public sec- tor health care organizations in Wales responding to a specific national, sys- temwide, intervention (1000 Lives) which is in turn embedded in an industry level institution (Patient Safety) at a time of organizational reconfiguration. The contribution made by this article is that it shows how an often neglected genre of organizational texts has important implications for organizational pro- cesses including institutionalization and deinstitutionalization at one of the key interfaces between the organization and the wider environment. The article begins with a discussion of ODA and texts. Some consider- ation is then given to the extended “role” of the minutes and their constitut- ing effects, especially the issue of recursiveness and cultural persistence (Zucker, 1977). The methodology section describes the context, the method used to extract data points from the text, and the consideration of the part- whole relationship. Following this the findings are presented and then a brief discussion. An Approach to Organizational Discourse Analysis (ODA) Some consideration was given to the principles both Foucaultian Discourse Analysis (FDA; Foucault, 1969/72; Kendall & Wickham, 1999; Willig, 1990), and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA; Fairclough, 2009; van Dijk, 1993). Although these two approaches are often considered contradictory rather than complementary, they are both prevalent methodological and theoretical approaches in ODA (for a discussion on the conflict and com- plementarity of FDA and CDA see Graham, 2005; see also Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 2010). What is common to both FDA and CDA, apart from considerations of power, is the importance of the relationship between language and other social processes; placing texts in context; and the statement, or even the word, having a constitutive effect. Thus units in the text have important effects and collections of similar and related units in the texts, which form networks of relations, have further effects. Where the two approaches are usually considered to differ is the FDA denies methodological hegemony, preferring instead a clear description of the way in which the research/analysis was undertaken, whereas CDA advocates a systematic approach and links to structuralism. Recent developments in hermeneutics readily allows for these two approaches, FDA and CDA, to be complimentary rather than contradic- tory or at least for them to be reconciled within a framework of multiple ontologies and epistemologies (see Cunliffe, 2011). at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  6. 6. 490 Group & Organization Management 37(4) Reflections on the Principle of Constituting Effects of Discourse Regardless of definition, it is accepted that discourse produces sets of cultur- ally and historically situated concepts, which are “ideas, categories, relation- ships and theories through which we understand the world and relate to one another” (Hardy & Phillips, 1999, p. 3), and has an effect (Carabine, 2001; Parker, 1992). As a discourse becomes established the effect is to reify a social reality that is taken for granted (Phillips et al., 2004), and the assump- tion is that the more structured the discourse the greater the likelihood that it will lead to established practices (Phillips et al., 2000). Discourse provides the language, knowledge, and a way of talking about a topic that is normalized and acceptable, and defines the cast of characters (the actors) who have normalizing roles within the discourse (Heracleous & Barrett, 2001). Discourses are constructed from, or emerge from, normative ideas and common sense and produce, and reproduce, ideas with connotations of morality, worth, and appropriate and acceptable behaviors (Barge & Oliver, 2003; Carabine, 2001; Knights, 1992; Townley, 1993). Characters achieve subject posi- tions; those bureaucratic positions and legitimate categories of identity that war- rant having a voice (Potter & Wetherell, 1987). Within any discourse there can only be a limited number of subject positions that have a legitimate voice with meaning and power (Hardy et al., 2005), and the right to speak and act, including the right to produce and distribute texts (Maguire, Hardy, & Lawrence, 2004). These subject positions are not fixed but change over time (Oakes et al., 1998). Put another way, appropriately structured discourses with a high level of coherence and accessible meanings based on, or strongly related to, existing symbolic representations and with a strong relationship between the sym- bolic representations in the discourse, tend to effect the behavior of actors (either as intended, or unintended, or both). That is to say, discourse enhances some possibilities more than others (Reed, 1998), and actors can bring about preferred outcomes by drawing on preferred discourses (Deetz & Mumby 1990). Similarly, actors will discount or discredit those discourses that have the potential to bring about unwanted outcomes (Grant et al., 1998; Maguire & Hardy, 2009). Reflections onText or the Inscription of Discourse A text is something that can be read and it is accepted within the field of discourse analysis, and hermeneutics, that texts are not limited to written at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  7. 7. Fear 491 documents. Indeed, written documents are a special case of texts due to the use of language and the changes that take place between dialogical interchange (speech) and the inscription of language. Ricoeur (1971) explains the signifi- cance of this change as follows. The inscription of discourse is the writing down of meaning. With written discourse the author’s intention and the meaning cease to coincide. Thus the concern of authorial intentions in the inscription of min- utes failing to represent the actual dialogical interchange is moot. Ricoeur explains thus: “But the text’s career escapes the finite horizon lived by its author. What the text says now matters more than what the author meant to say.” (p. 529). This is not taken to mean that the author’s intention is irrelevant, rather that the author can no longer control either the meaning or the construed inten- tion. He continues that in writing the discourse is freed from both the author and the dialogical situation and comes to project a world. That is, “a text breaks the ties of discourse to all the ostensive references” (p. 543), and this allows the text, the discourse in the text, to develop nonostensive references as an onto- logical dimension—new “worlds” (congruent with the construct of institutions) are created. However, the thrust of Ricoeur’s (1971, 1991) argument is that meaningful human action can also be read, which it can, and is therefore a text, which it is, but this text—meaningful human action—has similar properties to that of a written text in that the consequences are not under the control of the actor but escape the actor’s finite horizons, which is the property of any text. The point Ricoeur makes is that social science research relies on being able to read a text, following the wider definition of text (which is similar to Bruner’s (1991) requirement for narrative competence). This has a particular relevance for the minutes of meetings as the legal status of a set of minutes is, generally speaking, one of a true and accurate record of the meeting in terms of structure, albeit it limited content, decisions, and actions. That is to say, as a text the minutes are a purported record of intentional and meaningful activity. Within an organization they are a special case of a text of body of texts (the texts presented to the board and the dialogi- cal interactions of the board over successive meetings). Not only that, the minutes are by their very nature recursive. That is, the minutes of the board meeting at time t are re-presented, and reread, in the meeting at time t+1 and consensually agreed, sometimes by default, as a true and accurate reflection of the proceedings of the previous meeting at time t. Thus the minutes con- tinually reinforce and propagate ideas, meanings, ways of thinking, what is taken for granted, beliefs, and so on; they are an institution (Czarniawska, 2004) and they have institutionalizing effects (Zucker, 1977). (For the impor- tance of texts in maintenance, see also Law, 1994.) But the minutes, as any text does, escape their authors’ finite horizons and create new worlds. This is at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  8. 8. 492 Group & Organization Management 37(4) not, though, a static process occurring intermittently as the minutes are col- lated, even if by default, to form structured collections that can, and may, produce social categories and norms that shape the understandings and behav- iors of actors (again, the minutes create a body of texts that form an institution and that have institutionalizing effects). The minutes also function to allow and disallow, and privilege and discredit, subject positions, bodies of knowl- edge, and further discourses as they escape the authors’finite horizons—these are the constituting effects of language, discourse, and texts (again, the argu- ment repeats). Finally, with regard to the minutes, it seems reasonable to assume that board members will seek to have their discourses, their worlds of meaning, recorded in the minutes as they are all authors of the text and they presumably seek to maintain their institutional subject position. And, as Reed (2004), suggests, over time discourses are contested and preserved with the inten- tions of, for example, both the creation of new institutions and the preserva- tion of the institutional status quo. The Contexts This section outlines the selected contexts. First, consideration is given to the history of Patient Safety and the linked 1000 Lives program in Wales. Second the 2009 reconfiguration of NHS Wales is referred to. This provides the context for the identification of the discourses of interest (or at least those discourses that were initially of interest). Patient Safety and 1000 Lives Patient safety has a long history and has always been part of the professional discourse of doctors and nurses alike. The publication of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, To Err is Human (Kohn, Corrigan, & Donaldson, 1999/2000) marked a substantial shift in Patient Safety, although not one that led to dramatic improvements in either safety or quality (Brown & Lilford, 2009; Jha, Prasopa-Plaizier, Larizgoitia, & Bates, 2010; Leape et al., 2009; Leggat, Bartram, & Stanton, 2008; Woodward et al., 2010). The central tenet of Patient Safety, following the IOM report especially, is that current prac- tices result in avoidable harm, conceptualized and defined as “errors,” with massive human and economic costs (e.g., see Aspden, Corrigan, Wolcott, & Erickson, 2004; and Kohn et al. 1999/2000). The IOM report was followed by subsequent and related reports at the highest levels of health care around the world (e.g., An Organisation with a at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  9. 9. Fear 493 Memory, 2000; World Health Organization (WHO) assembly resolution (2002)). This legitimized Patient Safety schemas at a supraorganizational level, and across multiple professions and occupational groups, and regula- tory bodies charged with collecting data on various categories of error in health care were established (although some of these were already in opera- tion). In sum, Patient Safety had become institutionalized within health care and at the same time became a social institution, at the level of health care, in its own right (Maguire & Hardy, 2006). In the United Kingdom quality is the prime focus of the NHS with patient safety as the “first dimension” and senior management, at board level, have quality and patient safety as key responsibilities (House of Commons Health Committee, 2009; Patient Safety, 2009). The operationalization of Patient Safety within the practice of health care depends on “Patient Safety Initiatives” (PSIs). These PSIs range from technical medical practices, such as the use of surgery check lists, through to large-scale “system level” change efforts. One of the key organizations is the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), which was founded by Don Berwick, one of the people central to the modern Patient Safety movement. The IHI develops and promotes PSIs at all levels. One of their PSIs was the “saving Lives Campaigns.” The campaigns were designed as 2-year interventions that would demonstrate the value of Patient Safety by, quite literally, saving lives. The 1000 Lives Campaign (in Wales) was developed in conjunction with the IHI. The campaign ran from 2008 to 2010 and was reinstated in 2010 as the 1000 Lives+ Campaign/Program (for the purposes of this article it is not necessary to distinguish between the two). In sum, the 1000 Lives Campaign (1000 Lives from hereon) is a multilevel Organizational Development pro- gram that aims to bring about improvements in the quality of health care. A comprehensive overview is available on the 1000 Lives web site. Wales NHS and Reconfiguration Although Wales is a devolved nation within the United Kingdom, with some limited powers in relation to spend and governance of NHS Wales, the same commitment to Patient Safety and Quality applies as in the rest of the United Kingdom. The Welsh Government also has a strong policy commitment to openness and transparency of its public sector bodies. The 2009 reconfiguration of NHS Wales, The Local Health Boards (Establishment and Dissolution) (Wales) Order 2009, recombined 21 smaller Local Health Boards into geographical clusters of seven new Local Health Boards (LHBs). During the span of the reconfiguration the 1000 Lives at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  10. 10. 494 Group & Organization Management 37(4) Campaign was incorporated as a program within Public Health Wales, a fur- ther LHB. Two NHS Trusts, the Welsh Ambulance Service and Velindre NHS Trust retained their status independent of the LHBs. The reconfiguration of NHS Wales meant the disbanding of the existing organizational boards and the development of new boards for the LHBs, cre- ating a time of substantial organizational change at board level. The new LHB boards were required, among other things, to take account of the 1000 Lives legacy, and to pay attention to the 1000 Lives+ Campaign. The Welsh Government mandated a number of administrative structures and measures for the new LHBs, such as Patient Safety and Quality Committees (PSQCs; or the equivalent of), and measures based on, and relating to, the 1000 Lives Campaign. Method The analysis had six stages combining aspects of deconstruction, content analysis, and narrative analysis. (In this article deconstruction refers to an attempt to understand the text in relation to its context.) First, an archive was constructed from which a corpus was extracted (Fairclough, 1992). Second, the corpus was read, and reread, in depth with extensive note taking. Third, key segments—snippets—of text were extracted. Fourth, the selection of segments was revised using a computer search for key words within the corpus. Fifth, the snippets of text were sorted, resorted, and grouped to reconstruct discourses, narratives, and related events together with extensive memoing. Finally, a set of questions was used to interrogate the resulting reconstructions. These stages were interwoven and iterative rather than being completely linear as the author in turn iterated between inductive and deduc- tive analysis. This iteration included returning to the corpus, and sometimes to the archive, to confirm observations made in the corpus. The archive was built from the minutes of the LHBs’ board meetings, and the other documents presented at the meetings, collated from the LHBs web sites and organized by LHB and date. All documents were converted to text format as well as being kept in their original format. The LHBs web sites were also searched using the key terms “1000 Lives” and “Patient Safety” (with and without capitalization), and any additional documentation was col- lated. (These key terms were determined by the simple logic that the discourse/s of interest were 1000 Lives and Patient Safety and these terms were used for the search of the corpus.) The corpus was selected from the archive. It consisted of agendas, minutes (of the board meetings and associated committees), and minutes from public at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  11. 11. Fear 495 meetings where the LHB was represented (e.g., AGMs and a small number of special meetings). There were around nine sets of minutes per LHB, on average around 30 pages in length. The number of board meetings in the time period ranged from 7 to 12 (October 2009-December 2010). The mean number of docu- ments reviewed was 28 per board over the time period. The range of analyzed documents per board was from 9 to 65. The corpus was read in depth and passages of text relating to 1000 Lives and Patient Safety were extracted. Passages of text ranged from a single sentence to entire paragraphs or more. From these passages of text a narra- tive account of “events” within the text was reconstructed (Maguire, 2004). This account highlighted salient fragments or snippets of text that referred to 1000 Lives and/or Patient Safety. This provided a focus similar to what Fairclough describes as “moments of crisis” (Fairclough, 1992). Focusing on these moments and reading the text around them in depth highlighted conflicts and further, related, discourses that either complemented or contra- dicted the 1000 Lives and Patient Safety discourses, and discourses that sub- verted the 1000 Lives and Patient Safety discourses (this was made possible through an extensive understanding of a chosen wider context, in this case Patient Safety). For example, 1000 Lives developed the intervention of Patient Stories, in this setting, to be presented as a 0 (zero) item on the agenda prior to the start of the board meeting. In a number of cases savvy people used this space as an opportunity to pitch for resources, and were awarded the resources. Most of the boards seemed to recognize this and took steps to prevent it, often by removing the space and modifying its use. Instances of this activity were noted and linked to 1000 Lives. This also served as an example for how other events might be linked in and noted. It was this process that allowed competing discourses to be identified as in, for example, the concern raised by board members and members of the public that finance was being privileged over safety. This led to the identifi- cation of the board level Wales-wide discourses of Finance and Quality and Safety which were linked to 1000 Lives. Passages of text ranged from a single sentence to entire paragraphs or more. Notes and memos were made relating to possible meanings and events and the activity recorded in the text. Possible implications and linked activi- ties and events were noted. (This is similar to an events database, Van de Ven & Poole, 1990.) Two groups of interest were constructed from this reading, based on their use of discourses and texts to construct social realities at the level of the at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  12. 12. 496 Group & Organization Management 37(4) board and to have these social realities inscribed in the minutes. The two groups were “Nursing” and “Chief Executives” with attendant discourses relating to, or in contradiction to, 1000 Lives and Patient Safety. These groups emerged naturally rather than being predetermined and were somewhat of a surprise. However, the seeming clarity of their position and their discourses prompted the author’s interest. Following the reading and collation of sentences/fragments a simple auto- mated word search using a text search program, Windows Grep (version, was carried out for the terms “1000 Lives” and “patient safety” (capitalization not necessary). The 10 lines of text around each search term was captured and read and these passages of text were compared to the pas- sages of text found in the manual search (see Figure 1). A total of 299 frag- ments were extracted from the minutes. Each fragment could be traced back its place, its context, in the original text. This process was repeated using the names of the Chief Executives in relation to the findings relating to the Chief Executives’challenge given below. The sets of sentences/fragments were sorted, ordered, compared, and contrasted to construct emerging themes, narratives, and re-presentations of discourses over time. They were grouped by month and common, or similar and related, fragments of text collated across the all the boards. These groups of fragments were already chronologically ordered and the emerging pattern over time was noted taking account of what was “talked about” (i.e., recorded in the text); and how the recorded discourse/s devel- oped over time. From these passages of text a narrative account of “events” within the text was reconstructed (Brown, 2004; Maguire, 2004). This account highlighted salient fragments or snippets of text that referred to 1000 Lives and/or Patient Safety. It was possible, from this in depth reading and the selection of frag- ments of text (which we can liken to fragments of stories, Boje, 1991), to identify and collate further discourses that either complemented or contra- dicted the 1000 Lives and Patient Safety discourses, and discourses that sub- verted the 1000 Lives and Patient Safety discourses (this was made possible through an extensive understanding of a chosen wider context, in this case Patient Safety; see Phillips & Hardy, 2002). The identification of discourses was further facilitated throughout by pos- ing a set of questions (see Prasad, 2002) derived from (a) the theoretical frameworks employed; and (b) wider questions of interest relating to the texts. (See Table 1.) These questions provided a means for the researcher to ask questions of the corpus and of the text now compiled from the collated segments. at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  13. 13. Fear 497 Summing up, the parts of the texts relating to the wider social discourses were extracted and deconstructed (Brown, 2004). This resulted in related sets of ordered snippets of text relating to the discourses. This was all carried out with an understanding of contexts, and especially the historical context of Patient Safety and 1000 Lives. This process allowed for the reconstruction of a text-within-the-text (the corpus) as a “tissue of meaning which is symbolically significant for the reader (Parker, 1992)” (cited in, Parker, 1999, p. 3). This is in keeping with the iden- tification of traces left by discourses in the texts (Parker, 1994), which in turn become further discourses as the reader reconstructs “meaningful totalities out of scattered events” (Ricoeur, 1981, p. 279; see also de-fragmentation: Alvesson & Karreman, 2011b, p. 41). Put another way, the experience of the researcher becomes a conscious effort to mimic, to some extent, the presum- ably unconscious experience of the readers (Prasad, 2002), albeit from a removed position, which is in keeping with Ricoeur’s discussion of the text as action and action as text (1971, 1981), and reading as a recovery of meaning (1981), and where we take a broad view of meaning. The author was also conscious of their own institutional pressures to con- sider particular arguments, points of view, styles, perspectives, and so on. However, this article is an attempt to share a set of understandings, based on observations, that have further implications, both pragmatic and theoretical. It is not an attempt to argue for one particular point of view. For their own part, the author is a relatively experienced board member, and committee member, across a number of sectors, has been a company secretary, and has broad experience of both taking minutes and presenting minutes. Table 1. Questions Drawn From Theoretical Frameworks Questions Is the discourse external to the organization or internal to the organization; what are the ideas, truths, and so on; what effect is it having (how is it being used) Are the discourses competing/combining? What are the subject positions? What is the legitimized “body of knowledge” underpinning the discourse, and what are the components of this body of knowledge? Are texts being combined and what are the implications/effects? How is the text (the minutes) being used; what is being recorded; what are the implications? at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  14. 14. 498 Group & Organization Management 37(4) Findings Although the analysis focused on text segments related to 1000 Lives and Patient Safety further discourses were clearly identifiable as the discourses occurred in proximity to each other in the texts in the corpus. It seemed that the discourse of 1000 Lives was challenged and its prominence at board level reduced over time. The early symbolic meaning of 1000 Lives was related to that of Patient Safety and was embedded in a body of wider societal discourses relating to quality improvement, risk reduction, and systems improvement (IOM Report; Kohn et al. 1999/2000). What was lacking over time is concrete evidence that the program achieved the stated outcome of improving standards of care and reducing levels of harm incurred by patients receiving health care. The embed- ding of the discourses and the lack of evidence is mirrored in the minutes. The minutes contain statements such as the board is “. . . committed to par- ticipating in the all Wales 1000 Lives patient safety campaign . . .” and there are press releases, from 1000 Lives, for at least two boards saying they are focus- ing on Patient Safety. A consistent statement across the boards LHBs is to fete 1000 Lives as a program that is being implemented for the “. . . first time in the world . . . ” and the principles and achievements should be “embedded.” Support for PSIs emerging from 1000 Lives is strongly in evidence in the January 2010 minutes of Hillside LHB. Organizational members of this LHB claim to have developed the “SKIN” bundle, a bedsore (ulcer) prevention and treatment intervention, which has been “adopted” by 1000 Lives and “rolled out” (these claims are partially contested by Valley LHB, April 2010, who have their own intervention). One of the reported outcomes is a “culture change” regarding ulcers—previously it was taken for granted, by nurses, that pressure ulcers were inevitable and unavoidable. The 1000 Lives program is also credited with reducing levels of infection and improving discharges of patients from hospital. Yet even at this early stage tensions emerge. The minutes record that a board member, at Western LHB, requested details of savings and achieve- ments from 1000 Lives but did not receive them. The same board refers to the high cost of clinical negligence claims across Wales, especially midwifery in their geographical region, and the lack of incident reporting. The endoscopy unit at Valley LHB (February 2010) has strong failings, including being unsafe for recovery and is reported as being in the same position 10 months later. The minutes of Hillside LHB (December 2009) record that hand hygiene targets are linked to 1000 Lives but there has been no reduction in MRSA. In May 2010 the minutes record that the use of Hospital Standardized Mortality at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  15. 15. Fear 499 Rates (HSMR; see below) set by government have a high variation in coding across Wales ranging from 6% to 20%. Within Wales this data is not available for interorganizational comparisons and the 1000 Lives web site states, “The central Campaign office at Public Health Wales will only receive an all-Wales HSMR figure. It does not carry any individual Trust data or comparative data with England or any other countries” (1000 Livesb; HSMR is the Hospital Standardized Mortality Rate, a weighted measure of hospital deaths that seeks to account for risk of mortality from the point of admission to hospital). This comparative HSMR data is in the public domain for the remainder of the United Kingdom via the Dr. Fosters web site. In addition to this, tensions and contradictions between discourses and occupational groups, in relation to quality and safety, quickly become appar- ent. The two prominent groups, with related discourses, are Nurses and Chief Executives. The Nursing Challenge As the new boards of the LHBs formed Nursing presented a discourse based on its own subject position and related bodies of knowledge to challenge 1000 Lives. Reinvigoration of the leadership of Nursing staff has been a priority for the Nurse Director and the use of the Free to Lead Free to Care pro- gramme as well as the 1000 Lives Transforming Care programme is very actively promoted in all areas . . . The Board itself has receive a baseline in receiving the Fundamentals in Care audit results in October 2009. There was good appreciated of the importance of this from operational areas, with participation in the Safer Patient Network and 1000 Lives and Transforming Care initiatives being noted as key tools . . . The Fundamentals of Care programme is being widely propagated. (Hillside LHB) In the above quote we can see that 1000 Lives is explicitly referred to as a “tool” in relation to nursing. Specific challenges are also made in relation to 1000 Lives technologies or interventions. A clear example is the case of City LHB. In the October 2009 minutes the Director of Nursing introduces “Patient Safety Fridays” (PSFs) to the board, distinguishes the intervention from the 1000 Lives Walkrounds, notes that PSFs are a nursing initiative, and suggests that PSFs have subsumed similar interventions from 1000 Lives. In January 2010 the Medical Director suggests that PSFs are in fact part of 1000 at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  16. 16. 500 Group & Organization Management 37(4) Lives and reminds the board that he and the Chief Executive launched the hand hygiene campaign. In March 2010 PSFs is emphasized as assisting the LHB to stay at the forefront of the 1000 Lives agenda, and additional resources are requested. The minutes record that the LHB has receive an award for its work on Patient Safety. In July 2010 there is a record of the Director of Nursing presenting PSFs to a local forum and emphasizing that PSFs are recognized as an innovative approach to Patient Safety. There are inherent contradictions in the minutes in relation to the achieve- ments highlighted by the presentation of PSFs as follows (which mirrors the conflict noted previously). In March 2010 cleanliness was recognized as a problem. The LHB has the highest levels of Clostridium difficile in Wales, and levels of cleanliness is bad enough for wards to be closed. There is con- cern about a potential failure to fulfill 1000 Lives requirements that were agreed with the previous LHBs (prereconfiguration), and with the Welsh Government. The PSQC minutes notes the need to tackle serious problems with cleanliness and with coronary care. In May 2010 the minutes record that a problem with cleanliness is raised and that a “culture of unacceptable stan- dards is the norm.” In September 2010 the minutes record that hand hygiene has been raised as an issue several times in PSFs but has not been bought to the attention of the board. The discourses employed by Nursing, of which PSFs is one example, allow them to build a body of texts that nullify other discourses and texts. In terms of institutional processes, Nursing is attempting to deinstitutionalize 1000 Lives from the text of the board, at least in relation to Nursing, and to institutionalize a Nursing-based text. There are further examples of Nursing using other, more widespread, texts to institutionalize a Nursing-based text. These include the introduction of Nursing-based initiatives and Nursing-based interventions, such as the “patient experience” and the use of “Patient Stories.” As early as 2009 the Patient Experience is presented to the Midcountry LHB board in conjunction with the “patient journey” and the importance of “stories.” This same board records that the 1000 Lives methodology should be used to drive up clinical quality and the Patient Experience in January 2010. At the same time, learn- ing from the Patient Experience begins to emerge as a text in the minutes of Western LHB board. Another example is the capture and use of the text of “Patient Stories.” An example of this example occurs in the minutes of Valley LHB in December 2010. Under the heading of a Patient Story the minutes record an anecdotal account, by nurses, of a training event for nurses. The training event made use of de Bono’s Six hats and the recorded presentation states that this resulted in service improvement. There is no account of either at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  17. 17. Fear 501 any patient’s story or experience either as a consequence of, or in relation to, this training. Instead, Nursing is presented as a worthwhile occupation con- cerned with service improvement. This struggle, in this study, has a readily discernable motive at the local level of context and in the wider context. At the local level there is a high cost-relative-to-performance discourse. The cost of Nursing is high, with high use of overtime and Nursing Bank staff as well as agency staff. In November 2009 the Western LHB states the policy is not to use “clinical” agency staff. Yet in July 2010 the Western LHB records the problems related to the high usage of agency staff. Valley LHB reports that the high cost of nursing, the use of the nursing bank, and the lack of junior doctors are prob- lems in February 2010. In March 2010 the Hillside LHB minutes record that excess hours for nurses and midwives compromises patient safety. Valley LHB notes the need to reduce nurse bank expenditure in April 2010. But, in contrast, in November 2010 the Director of Nursing of City LHB notes that a reduction in bank and overtime must not compromise patient safety. Astrong defensive text is presented from Nursing through the minutes of the boards. This text focuses on the value of, and the achievements of, Nursing and subtly implies the necessity of the nursing bank, overtime, and agency staff. These discursive struggles and attempts to institutionalize and deinstitu- tionalize are not new. The history of Nursing, when located in the context of Patient Safety, shows a continual struggle of Nursing to create Nursing- based institutions within the health care industry and quality and safety have long been part of this struggle. This ongoing struggle manifests at board level in the organizational texts as occupational groups attempt to institutionalize via texts at the level of the board. Put another way, the occupational groups seek to create a permanent record at a particular organizational level through continued iterations of seg- ments of language (tropes) inscribed as discourse in the pertinent organiza- tional text/s. These segments of language have an element of self-regulation for the parties concerned and thus have the potential to both institutionalize and deinstitutionalize. For example, a focus on improving cleanliness and holding Nursing accountable is deinstitutionalized, whereas the recognition of the value and worth of Nursing is institutionalized (by Nursing). This is a continual and continuing process (as we would expect following Zucker, 1977) rather than the achievement of a static state. The Chief Executives’ (CEs) challenge Rather than challenging the discourse of 1000 Lives, the Chief Executives’ challenge was to institutionalize a “new” discourse of Finance. However, at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  18. 18. 502 Group & Organization Management 37(4) they faced a further challenge in as much as this discourse had to be some- how merged with the discourse, or discourses, of Quality and Safety, which had become cognate with 1000 Lives. The discourse of Finance was reinforced and introduced from within the organizations by the CEs early in the reconfiguration. It was a consistent discourse across all the boards from a powerful subject position. The rhetoric of the discourse was, in part, that of break from the legacy practices and dis- courses of financial support from government. Historically government had “bailed out” health care providers when they overspent on budget and allowed the organizations to carry forward their overspends. The discourse included terms such as “no bail out,” an imperative to “break even,” and a need to “accelerate the pace of change.” For example, in November 2009 Penninsula LHB record that “. . . a col- lective effort was required on financial delivery for the benefit of patients and services . . .” and in February 2010 City LHB holds a special meeting on finance where concerns are so strong that board is unable to sign off the accounts. These special meetings, with boards being unable to sign off the accounts, occur across the seven LHBs. The concern with Finance is extended as a requirement for the public as noted by Western LHB in March 2010, the “. . . public needs to understand that NHS Wales will remain in balance . . .” This discourse of finance continues over the course of the study and while there is some consistency to the message the discourse itself is highly vari- able as boards are regularly told that they are on target to break even, often with the comment that they are the only board in Wales to achieve this, fol- lowed by the reporting of a large deficit some months later, or even within the same meeting. For example, Riverside LHB predicts a break even in the February 2010 minutes followed by a predicted deficit in July 2010. In November 2010 the minutes of Penninsula LHB record that the board is pre- dicting a breakeven and is the only one in Wales to do so followed, later in the same minutes, by a recorded deficit of £15.5m (USD 24.8m) and the com- ment that breakeven is achievable if steps are taken. The meaning seems to be that of a requirement to achieve changes that reduces pressure on the health related spend. This discourse of Finance, in turn, was linked to a further political discourse at the national level of providing a “world class health service” (Designed for Life: A world class Health Service for Wales, 2005) and the continuing dis- course of Quality and Safety. The discourse of Finance and the discourse of Quality and Safety have the potential to conflict. Concerns were raised by external stakeholders about the level of attention being given to safety mat- ters by the board and the increasing focus on financial matters early in the reconfiguration. These concerns were also raised from within the board (e.g. at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  19. 19. Fear 503 F:...PS board papersA1 key docsBoards onlyHillside LHB jul10Aegnda Item 3.1 - Mid Staffordshire (2).txt   Example 1   00135:   00136:   00137: strengthen the role of audit within the health board, including   00138: refocusing the Clinical Audit department to facilitate Measurement   00139: for Improvement to support Quality Improvement generally and in   00140: particular the work of the 1000 Lives Plus programme.   00141:   00142:   00143:   00144: Recommendation 6. The Board should review the Trust's   00145: arrangements for the management of complaints and     Example 2   00262:   00263:   00264:   00265: Reinvigoration of the leadership of Nursing staff has been a top   00266: priority for the Nurse Director and the use of the Free to Lead Free 00267: to Care programme as well as the 1000 Lives Transforming Care (continued) at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  20. 20. 504 Group & Organization Management 37(4) Figure 1. Three examples of fragments of text extracted using Windows Grep search for 1000 Lives from single board in the month of July 2010 Note: (a) name of board changed; and (b) spelling mistakes and abbreviations are as per the original texts. 00268: programme is very actively promoted in all areas. All Band 7   00269: nurses are encouraged to undertake Vital Signs leadership training.   00270: High expectations have been established through the revised senior   00271: nursing structures. The Board itself has receive a baseline in   00272: receiving the Fundamentals in Care audit results in October 2009.     Example 3   00465:   00466:   00467:   00468: There was good appreciated of the importance of this from   00469: operational areas, with participation in the Safer Patient Network   00470: and 1000 Lives and Transforming Care initiatives being noted as   00471: key tools. There is an active programme to improve the care of   00472: deteriorating patients. The Fundamentals of Care programme is   00473: being widely propagated.   00474:   00475: Figure 1. (continued) at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  21. 21. Fear 505 by Riverside LHB, May 2010) including, in one board, by the director of finance. Faced with these competing pressures the boards appear to adopt state- ments, or tropes, which are used by the CEs. These statements combine the competing discourses of Quality and Safety and Finance, and attempt to sat- isfy the stated requirements of both the organization and the interested parties in the external environment. The development of this combined discourse is shown in Table 2. This position acknowledges both internal and external subject positions and recognizes the worth of both bodies of knowledge. The distinct dis- courses of Finance and Quality and Safety began to merge and “. . . finance is balanced by quality . . .” (Hillside LHB, May 2010). In this merging discourse there is the “need” to “drive” patient safety as hard as finance and, “. . . quality and safety remained the boards main priority . . .” (Peninsula LHB, July 2010). The need to maintain a discourse on finance, which incorporates quality and safety is recognized by the WHSSC, which has influence over both the CEs and boards exercised from a distance. The WHSSC has a budget of c. £600m (USD $910m) and replaces the body Health Commission Wales. All LHB CEs sit on the board and it needs at least four CEs to be quorate. It is chaired by Public Health Wales, which does not have responsibility for service provider organizations, and vice chaired by an LHB member (both of these board members are independent members). The WHSSC is responsible for governance of the LHBs and has wide ranging powers to audit quality and safety. In the April 2010 Minutes the WHSSC members “. . . discussed in some detail the Plan and in particular the financial challenges locally to LHBs.” At the same time patients, patient safety, and safeguarding were put above all other considerations. In September, 2010, the NHS Wales finances for the LHBs are considered and “. . . those Members present supported to the options to address the adverse variance a letter would be sent to all Chief Executives as soon as possible to SUPPORT the measures as outlined in the report.” (Bold and capitals as in the original.) In addition, there is an attempt at a consistency of approach through the use of a consultancy third party as the LHBs were, “. . . working with McKinsey on a local and all-Wales basis to look further at the wider service and financial framework and develop plans for the next five years.” (City LHB, January 2010). Western LHB also refer to McKinsey as being involved in a 1000 Lives workshop in 2009. Although the discourse of Finance became “balanced” by a discourse of Quality and Safety, this was separate and distinct from both 1000 Lives and at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  22. 22. 506 Group & Organization Management 37(4) Table 2. Discourses on Finance and the Emerging Discourse That Links Finance and Quality and Safety. Most of These Statements Are Recorded as per the Chief Executives and Chairs of the LHBs LHB Discursive extracts Hillside LHB . . . ensure the organization meets its financial targets and breaks even . . ./. . . no additional funding available from the Welsh Assembly Government . . . (January 2010)   . . . improve quality and patient care, which will result in savings./. . . focus was on services and patients . . . (May 2010)   Further financial recovery measures were being implemented, but that the challenge remained to bring the Health Board into balance by the end of the financial year.The Board recognized and was committed to the need to deliver within the budget and resources available. /. . . the message of the seriousness of this financial position . . ./NHS was facing a significant challenge . . ./. . . the Health Board faced a significant financial challenge and that it must break even at the end of the financial year as the Welsh Assembly Government was not in a position to provide any financial support. (October 2010)   the Health Board was here to ensure the delivery of safe patient care . . ./. . . the Health Board was here to make changes . . ./. . . the difficult financial context, both locally and nationally . . . identify and implement different solutions to ensure the delivery of high quality care./. . . focus being on quality and getting things right first time . . . (November 2010) Riverside LHB . . . improving consistency and achieving better outcomes for patients . . . the financial position of other Health Boards in Wales was similar to that within . . ./. . . significant challenges . . ./ . . . the Board to ensure a balance between quality, performance and financial resources (July 2010) Penninsula LHB . . . deliver a balanced year end position . . . (October 2009) . . . confirmed its commitment to patient safety . . ./. . . still operating at the ‘top end’ of performance compared to the rest of Wales . . ./. . . the key issue was one of safety . . ./. . . it was feasible that a breakeven position could be achieved . . . achieve financial balance (January 2010) . . . use of agenda ‘item zero’ to highlight patient safety issues . . . (February 2010) . . . committed to improving the health of the population and improving the safety and standards of care . . ./. . . entering a period of unprecedented financial challenge and together we will have to make difficult decisions . . . (June 2010)       (continued) at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  23. 23. Fear 507 LHB Discursive extracts   . . . a period of extreme economic circumstances . . ./. . . statutory obligations to meet financial breakeven . . . [the organization is] . . . committed to quality and safety . . . [and] . . . the pace of change necessary in the current climate represents an unprecedented challenge . . . (November 2010) City LHB ...advise against projecting a deficit.LHBs had to break even, year-on-year,and the incoming UHB Board would need a report at its first meeting .../To reinforce the importance the Board is attaching to the management of patient complaints,the Complaints Committee will in future be .../...external support fromWAG was unlikely to be available in the current financial year./...has to do better and to get it right,first time,every time./...reminded the Forum that the UHB has a statutory duty to break even ...made assurances that there would be no compromise on safety and quality,and observed that getting things right the first time would cost less but that the right model of services was also needed.Tough decisions would have to be made on how to stop the overspend and issues such as recruitment, overtime and the nurse bank would be discussed.(October 2010)   . . . improvements in efficiency./. . . importance of identifying additional savings measures./. . . difficult decisions to ensure end of year financial balance . . ./. . . commended the reports to the Board (in accelerating the Board agenda, whilst maintaining a clear commitment to safety and quality of patient care.) (November 2010) Valley LHB . . . areas of risk related to financial health . . ./. . . the key area of risk related to financial health . . . the Health Board was assuming the need to plan for a very limited increase in funding for management . . ./. . . reduce current levels of expenditure by , , , Considerably more work was required to produce a balanced Financial Plan (November 2009)   . . . this was the most financially challenging year the NHS had faced for at least two decades . . ./. . . area of risk related to financial health . . ./The revenue position continued to be the major concern . . ./The key area of concern remained the break even target . . . (July 2010) Western LHB . . . will remain in balance this year and that, financially . . . is broadly in line with its predictions i.e. be in a break-even position at year end, having delivered on what we said we would deliver on, with plans in place to overturn the deficit . . . (January 2010) Table 2. (continued) (continued) at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  24. 24. 508 Group & Organization Management 37(4) Patient Safety. This balancing seems to emerge most strongly toward the lat- ter end of 2010. For example, the following discussion is present from September 2010 to November 2010 in Penninsula LHB: [T] his situation was very serious, given the Health Boards duty to break even at the end of the financial year, whilst also meeting quality and safety targets . . . [ Penninsula is not] in the business of balancing finances at all costs . . . providing safe and sustainable services remains the overriding priority . . . [and even though the LHB has a cumulative deficit of £16.7m (USD 26.7m)] . . . patient safety remains of para- mount importance, above all other considerations, but . . . pace of change in delivering efficiencies must increase . . . Similarly, during a special meeting on finance City LHB makes reference to a statement of intent to deliver safe, high quality and sustainable patient care and notes the need to, “. . . accelerate the board agenda whilst maintain- ing a clear commitment to safety and quality of patient care . . .” Earlier on, July 2010, the Director of Finance at Penninsula LHB highlights the cumula- tive overspend and “. . . stressed that quality and safety remained the boards main priority . . .” Even earlier indications of this emerging balance are pres- ent in May 2010 when in Hillside LHB a member of the board notes that key focus seems to be on financial matters rather than quality of care. The LHB Discursive extracts   . . . current services are unsustainable . . ./Discussions are ongoing withWAG to put an agreement in place for a 3 year settlement process.To address the £72m (USD c. $109) deficit would require a 12% cost improvement program on budget which has never previously been achieved within public sector organizations./. . . it will take three years to get the organization into a financially sustainable position in order to give the population the services it both needs and requires . . . (September 2010) Midcountry LHB   . . . maintain financial balance . . . (March 2010) Board held detailed discussion regarding the organization’s financial position . . ./. . . receive a Quality Impact Assessment (August 2010) Table 2. (continued) at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  25. 25. Fear 509 response from the Chair and the CE is that the key focus is on services and patients and “finance is balanced by quality.” It seems that over the course of the study 1000 Lives and Patient Safety lost prominence on the agendas of the boards, and quality and safety concerns were delegated to the relevant committee (PSQC) within the committee structure of the LHBs. However, at the same time two competing discourses, Finance and Quality and Safety, were merged at the level of the board. CEs introduced the discourse of Finance in an attempt to deinstitutionalize existing practice of rely- ing on bail outs from government. While they didn’t advocate standard cost cutting measures such as redundancy—indeed, compulsory redundancy was ruled out by government—they did advocate increasing financial diligence and a change in attitude. Interventions such as 1000 Lives were a useful assumed means to reduce cost by increasing quality and safety of provision. At the same time the existing organizational institution of Quality of Safety requires mainte- nance, but is potentially challenged by a focus on “efficiency.” In order to bal- ance out these competing forces a new discourse develops that combines both financial considerations and quality and safety considerations. This discourse is inscribed in the texts, the minutes, and in other texts such as the minutes of the WHSSC which has a governance and audit role in respect of the LHBs. This is in contrast to the situation that emerged with Nursing. Nursing sought to deinstitutionalize those beliefs, practices, and so on, that did not emanate from Nursing and to institutionalize beliefs, practices, and so on, that did emanate from Nursing. In the case of Finance and Quality and Safety there is a more of a merging of texts and discourses to create a new text with a new discourse that seeks to account of both the competing discourses and to institutionalize the beliefs and practices that will allow cost savings to be made without disrupting quality and safety. From the texts it seems that although the combined discourse was constructed there was little evidence of change as the discourse around Finance continued to be erratic (e.g., with boards unable to clarify their financial positions and continuing to have dif- ficulty signing off their accounts). Discussion When 1000 Lives was first introduced it was, in terms of the Phillips et al. model, a discourse with a set of texts with the potential to constitute an institution. This discourse, of 1000 Lives, was framed by the institution of Patient Safety. Given the importance attributed to Patient Safety at board level (e.g., Monitor, 2010; National Patient Safety Agency, 2009), and to 1000 Lives in terms of political and organizational support in Wales, there at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  26. 26. 510 Group & Organization Management 37(4) was every reason to assume that 1000 Lives would become a dominant dis- course at the level of the LHB boards. Instead, despite the contextual support, 1000 Lives does not achieve an institutional position at the level of the board. It is contested by texts pre- sented by Nursing and Chief Executives and by a parallel discourse of Quality and Safety which seems to be distinct from the Patient Safety institutional discourses and texts. 1000 Lives is delegated to a committee although the use of its parts as levers for change remain available to the board. The discourses of Quality and Safety and Finance become merged to form a single text which the boards re-present to themselves and to internal and external stakeholders. These interacting discourses form “discourses of organizing” (Keenoy, Mars, Oswick, & Grant, 2000) in which there is a constant realignment of dis- courses, which become framed, in part, by the institution of the board (Selsky, Spicer, & Teicher, 2003). 1000 Lives became an object, a social artefact (Maguire, 2004; Maguire & Hardy, 2009), that was used to achieve particular ends, including ends other than that for which it was intended. Over the course of the study the boards’ utilization of 1000 Lives develops and it becomes a means to achieve culture change, improve leadership among nurses, and, contrary to the earlier state- ment, becomes a “methodology” to “drive up,” for example, clinical quality and the Patient Experience. Implications forTheory Although the findings presented could be interpreted as somewhat at odds with the Phillips et al. model, they do not challenge the model. They are somewhat at odds due to the seeming fragmentation of 1000 Lives at differ- ent points and the lack of development of a cohesive institution at the level of the board. They do not challenge the model as 1000 Lives, and indeed Patient Safety as a whole, lacks supporting evidence in an industry (health care) that has prided itself on an evidence-based approach. As such, the dis- course contradicts the institutional requirements of the industry. Yet Patient Safety has established itself as an institution within this industry. One way of starting to address this emerging paradox is to extend the model to take account of multiple levels of institutionalization and deinstitu- tionalization, especially at the industry and organizational levels. For exam- ple, we could consider Alvesson and Karreman’s (2000; 2011a) model. Rather than assuming the researcher should determine the level of observa- tion we could instead locate the observed discourses at different levels as different “types” of discourse. For example, we could locate Patient Safety at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  27. 27. Fear 511 as a Megadiscourse, which impacts extracontextually, 1000 Lives as meso- discourse with more localized and contextualized effects, and the discourse in the minutes as a micro-discourse occurring at the level of actors, and con- sider the relations between these levels and the implications thereof. We could also consider Grant et al.’s (1998) distinction between mono- logical and dialogical discourse and make use of this model to show the tran- sitions from monological discourse (as 1000 Lives is introduced) to dialogical discourse (as 1000 Lives is contested and fragmented), and back again as the boards reconstruct a new monological discourse. The findings support the idea of the importance and influence of texts, and in this case of written texts, in relation to both discourse and institutionaliza- tion processes. The point of departure is in relation to “revealing.” The texts reveal both constituting processes and the “worlds” (Ricoeur, 1971) that have been, or are being, constituted. That is, it is possible to read the texts in a way that reveals independently of authorial, and other, intentions without needing to challenge the understanding that the texts are used to construct social reali- ties (Phillips et al.). It would be useful, following further analysis, to expand the theoretical considerations in the direction of that taken by the Montreal School (see, Cooren, Taylor, & Van Every, 2006), and the question of the agency of texts (Cooren, 2004; Putnam & Cooren, 2004). The School has used communication theory to expand our understanding of the role of texts, especially written texts, and the effects of these texts in relation to organizing and organizational life. For example, we might consider how these organizational texts, the agenda, and the minutes in particular, serve as organizational templates (Taylor et al., 1996) with organizing effects, intentionally or otherwise and also how texts are used to gain subject positions and to achieve and endorse legitimacy. Something that was not explored in this study was the question of power- resistance. It is possible to read the power-resistance relations in the texts in a number of ways. For example, levels of discourse, in terms of quantity of discourse, and responses and reactions to discourse could be examined. The quantity and quality of the recording of discourse relating to different groups could be analyzed, and the question emerges of how power is exercised with, through, and in written texts. Alternatively, postbureaucratic social control is assumed to be character- ized by different control mechanisms that than those assumed to be inherent in structured power hierarchies. The arguments were reviewed recently by Raelin (2011) who concluded that a new managerial role is to facilitate the necessary critical discourse within the network of members of the particular community (see the Chief Executives’ challenge above). Raelin’s arguments at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  28. 28. 512 Group & Organization Management 37(4) provide an interesting framework for further interpretation of the findings presented here. 1000 Lives could readily be determined as a means of, or a mechanism for, “soft control”—control through a culture of norms and trust. This could be developed into a coherent argument as 1000 Lives is openly linked to the development of culture (1000 Lives Campaign). On the other hand, the discourse of nursing rejects hostile information (Gouldner, 1970) and seeks to reinforce the existing comfortable position. What the board seeks to do, knowingly or otherwise, is to weave a critical discourse within a social network that builds social capital by mobilizing and documenting exchanges within the network (Raelin, p. 148). Naturally, by being open to dialogic interchange and not taking control the board, as a network, is perme- able to discourses that seek to maintain a subject position or institution and has less means to establish, or institutionalize, behaviors and norms. The sug- gestion is that Realin’s work on control merits further exploration and that ODA is a natural bedfellow for this sort of work. Implications for Boards and Managers Boards may benefit from acknowledging the importance of the role of writ- ten texts to, and for, boards in terms of the relationship between written texts and institutionalization. There is a suggested link between this idea and governance (e.g., Huse, 2005) as governance is arguably an institution- type process as it requires the endorsement of, and adherence to, a set of conventions and beliefs that lead to the construction and maintenance of a social reality. Boards and managers may be equally impacted on by texts, but it seems that managers presenting to the board have greater opportunity to wield texts in order to influence the course of events and the establishment of organiza- tion level institutions (or to institutionalize particular objects and discourses). Boards may benefit from being aware of the constituting potential of texts being either presented or referred to and the implications of the discourses embodied in those texts (for an interesting example see Anderson, 2004). Boards may also benefit from being aware of the concordance, or lack of concordance, in their minutes and related texts. For example, in this study there was a clear indication of a lack of concordance regarding budget defi- cits but a clear indication of strong concordance of the texts presented by both CEs and Nursing. Finally, the constituting power of written texts challenges the assumptions that (a) the informal processes of board meetings take precedence when it comes to achieving desired outcomes (not least because these desired at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
  29. 29. Fear 513 outcomes can be institutional outcomes and therefore influenced by texts in the first place); and (b) that the written texts do not reveal the reality of the boards’ processes—this is an ontological assumption and needs to be chal- lenged as such. Limitations This study has limitations. It made use of the public documents of seven health care organizations which have relatively comprehensive minutes and associ- ated documents. This level of documentation, at the same level of detail, is unlikely to be readily available for commercial organizations (even if it exists, which it probably does). However, it allowed for the investigation of a type of organizational activity common to many organizations across all sectors. The critical evaluation, and the CDA, of 1000 Lives is limited in this arti- cle as that was not the original intention. However, the findings suggest that a strong CDA, or the equivalent form of evaluation, of 1000 Lives would be useful for both theory and practice. It could both expand and challenge our understanding of the use of discourse and texts. Conclusion Written texts are used in discursive activity both as objects and as a means and these uses are interchangeable depending on the context. Authors fashion texts as objects in one setting that they use as a means in another setting. These texts range from documents through to sets of statements and bounded vocabularies and other symbolic representations. As the boards develop and record their emerging discourse they construct and reconstruct the social real- ity of their organization. The organizations are composed of fragmented and competing discourses with no finality to meaning making (Bakhtin, 1986), and continual conflict among multiple meanings looking for interpretive con- trol (Eisenberg & Goodall, 1993), which the board must [re]arrange into a coherent, unified, and meaningful discourse. The discourse/s are inscribed in texts, in this case the minutes of the board meetings, and these texts contribute to organizational institutionalism and deinstitutionalizm; the construction and destruction of socially shared realities that are self-regulating. This is further complicated by the recognition that the minutes are themselves an institution. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. at UNIVERSITAT AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA on July 16, 2013gom.sagepub.comDownloaded from
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