1st Edition

Performance Comparison and Organizational Service Provision U.S. Hospitals and the Quest for Performance Control

By Christopher Dorn Copyright 2021
    250 Pages
    by Routledge

    250 Pages
    by Routledge

    Exploring the mechanisms underlying performance comparisons, Performance Comparison and Organizational Service Provision investigates how such assessments shape hospitals’ service provision and medical professionals’ work.

    With a focus on U.S. health care, this study outlines how medical quality was defined and compared in the hospital sector from the late 19th century to the present. Developing a novel theoretical framework to investigate performance comparisons, several different forms of internal and external performance assessments are contrasted throughout this period. The transformative effects of these comparisons on hospitals’ relationships to patients, insurers, regulators, and staff are analyzed and their ramifications for current hospital care are explored. Drawing on this analysis, the book examines the controversial nature of these measures and the struggles among hospital managers, patients, physicians, and policy makers to determine hospital quality.

    Affording a deeper understanding of how performance comparisons influence organizational service provision, the book will be of interest to researchers in a broad range of fields including organization studies, accountability and evaluation, health care, and policy research as well as practitioners in hospital care and management.

    Part I: Introducing Performance Comparisons

    1. U.S. Hospitals: Peak Performance and Disappointment

    Part II: Theorizing Hospital Performance Comparisons

    2. Hospitals in the Context of Health Care, Profession, and Organization

    3. Comparison, Performance, and Organizations

    Part III: Examining the Case of Hospital Performance Comparisons in the United States

    4. Reinventing the Hospital and Medicine: Setting the Stage for Comparisons, 1870-1945

    5. The Jactitations of Hospital Control: Proliferation of Performance Comparisons, 1945-2016

    6. Conclusion: Hospital Performance Control between Hope and Disappointment


    Christopher Dorn is a Research Associate in Sociology, Trier University, Germany. He obtained his doctorate, supported by the German Excellence Initiative, from the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology. He specializes in the sociology of (e)valuation, organizations, performance measures, and professions.

    "Through the well-chosen lens of comparisons, Dorn takes us on a fascinating journey through time and the intriguing development of performance control in the realm of health care and US hospitals. Firmly anchored in rich accounts, both historical and contemporary, its take-aways on organization, professionalism and control make up a highly relevant and timely contribution to both academic and practitioner debates."

    Susanna Alexius, Associate Professor in business administration at Score, Stockholm University and the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden

    "In Performance Comparison, Christopher Dorn provides a sweeping history of performance measures and quality assessments in U.S. healthcare. Dorn carefully documents how different regimes of internal and external comparison have shaped clinical decision making, generated contention within the field, and produced unforeseen consequences. Performance Comparison is a valuable addition to scholarship on organizational metrics, quantification, valuation, and the sociology of professions."

    Michael Sauder, Professor of Sociology, University of Iowa; Fellow, Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt, Germany