Assignment Brief Advancing Professional Decision Making

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Assignment Brief Advancing Professional Decision Making

Assignment – Advancing Professional Decision Making

This assignment requires you to submit one essay of no more than 6 000 words. The essay should address the module learning outcomes.

The essay should be structured so that it follows academic convention by demonstrating the flow of argument related to the students chosen area of organisational interest. The essay should have clear and distinct sections such as introduction, a middle section which identifies the background, evidential support to help establish this as a concern; discussion which brings together the key concepts with rationale for selection and a critique of theory, with application and supported by peer reviewed literature. The essay should provide a summary of findings which act as the conclusion.

This is not fixed; but may serve as a template if desired:

  1. Choose a major organisational problem experienced by healthcare/social care organisations and identify real root causes of this problem by applying the relevant theoretical concepts, evidence from published research and organisational examples as well
  2. Having identified the root causes, recommend exactly what decision(s) should be made to solve the problem. Your recommendations should be supported and justified by the theoretical concepts, evidence from published research and organisational examples as well. However, your recommendations should not ignore the practicalities of the situation by outlining where practical difficulties are likely to occur in the implementation of your recommendations

Submission Date: 09.01. 2018 at 14.00



You need an introduction, a discussion (body of the paper) and conclusions.

1 Introduction

A well-written introduction is the most efficient way to attract your reader’s attention and set the context of your topic area. So you need to introduce your topic area (i.e. organisational problem) and get your reader’s attention early on, by demonstrating that your organisational problem is an important issue. Here you will have to provide background information in the form of a short literature review which helps your reader to understand the organisational problem , its context (e.g. hospital ward, hospital, national health/social care system etc) and its significance. The introduction need to have a clear definition of the aim of your essay as well:


An example from a journal paper.

Organisational Problem: motivation and retention of primary health care workers in three disparate regions in Kenya

“Kenya currently faces significant challenges in overcoming health care worker (HCW) shortages and low HCW retention, as well as difficulty attaining equitable distribution of human resources for health (HRH) – particularly in hard-to-reach areas. A 2008 report indicates that the Ministry of Health had an overall vacancy level of 29% [1,2]. There are 1.5 HCWs per 1,000 population in Kenya, which falls below the figure of 2.3 per 1,000 population reported in analyses by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the minimum staffing threshold to achieve minimum coverage [1,2]. Vacancy levels based on WHO suggestions were highest in Northern Kenya, with 85% and 93% health worker vacancy levels in Turkana and Mandera -counties, respectively [3].”

…….” there is an urgent need to ascertain and employ successful retention strategies that are suitable for different regions with diverse needs [7], where retention strategies are commonly understood to mean incentive mechanisms provided to health care providers already working in rural (and remote) areas to continue working in these regions…”

“…Several reasons explain attrition of health workers in Kenya. These include retirement, resignation, and death [15]. A number of critical factors contribute to the motivation and retention of staff, yet these are not currently well understood in the Kenyan context….”

“…Our study sought to bridge the knowledge gap that currently exists on the retention and attraction of health workers in Kenya, particularly in underserviced communities, in order to inform the tentative 2013 to 2018 national HRH strategy and programme development at the national and county level….” [Aim] 

Ojakaa D , Olango S and Jarvis J (2014) , Factors affecting motivation and retention of primary health care workers in three disparate regions in Kenya, Human Resources for Health 2014, 12:33


2 Discussion or body of the essay

The body of the essay can be thought of as a series of building blocks that escort the reader step by step through your argument. This is the part where you report on your reading, weigh up arguments for and against a proposition, and present the evidence. You need to integrate theory research evidence and facts from the selected organisation to develop your argument. The discussion or the body of the essay should have subtitles. You might include:


(a) A detailed description of the organisational problem and its importance of it:

An example from the journal paper:

“…..Health worker motivation (defined as the extent an individual is willing to exert and maintain effort towards the achievement of an organization’s goals) has frequently been cited as a critical barrier to effective health service delivery and contributor to the HCW shortage [4-6]. In this regard, several themes characterize motivation and these include financial aspects, career development, continuing education, health facility infrastructure, availability of resources, relationships with the management of the health facility, and personal recognition…..” [concept Motivation] 

“….Further, there is an urgent need to ascertain and employ successful retention strategies that are suitable for different regions with diverse needs [7], where retention strategies are commonly understood to mean incentive mechanisms provided to health care providers already working in rural (and remote) areas to continue working in these regions….” [concept -Retention] 

“…..A study on health worker motivation in Kenyan district hospitals demonstrated that altruistic motives are important in these settings, but that their organizational commitment (in terms of decisions on performance on the job depending on whether the senior management/the organization appreciated the particular staff or not) and motivation was threatened by the many challenges that service providers face in public sector health care provision [10]….”

You need to integrate theoretical concepts as well :

Herzberg’s two-factor theory


(b) Determine the root causes

Address the question of why the problem has occurred. It is generally best to consider a variety of possible causes to see how well they are supported by the organisational facts, theoretical concepts and research evidence, and how well the root causes explain everything that has happened. Go over the organisational problem in greater detail, trying to establish a clear picture of what has happened. Try to establish who, what, where and when of the situation in which the problem(s) occur(s). Given the complexities of the real world it may not be possible to establish a single cause for most of the problems. In many cases, several causal factors appear to interact to produce the end results.

An example from a journal paper

“….Health workers are susceptible to ‘push’ factors, such as pay and working conditions, and ‘pull’ factors, such as job satisfaction and economic prospects [15,16]. Ensuring that staff receive adequate pay for their work is key to retention. However, salary is not the only important dimension [5,15]. In many contexts, the low numbers of trained health staff in remote areas is due to the lack of supporting infrastructure and opportunities for staff and their families [17,18]….”

“….In fragile environments, these factors include poor living conditions, the lack of safety and security in the workplace, and the absence of continuous professional development [1,4]……


(c) Developing possible solutions

Having identified root causes, you should now develop a number of possible solutions (alternatives) to the problem. If particular knowledge or theories have proven to be useful in determining the root causes of the problem, the same knowledge and theories could be useful for developing possible solutions

“…..The findings of this study and the policy implications enumerated above enable the delineation of several recommendations. First, retention schemes that are tailored to each of the three regions need to be developed and applied through decentralized HRH management systems within the regions that can address their unique issues…..”

“………. Secondly, competitive compensation packages should be developed for health staff, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. These packages should include family health care and be reviewed regularly in order to address rapidly changing needs and circumstances over time….”

“….Thirdly, strategies for career growth and promotion, especially for the higher cadre of health workers, such as doctors should be developed…..”


(d) Addressing issues of potential challenges of implementing the solutions


3 Conclusions

In the conclusion, bring your central ideas into sharp focus. You should summarise the evidence and arguments you have presented in the essay. Do not introduce new evidence at this point. Instead you should synthesise the main points without repeating everything what you have already said. You could discuss the limitations of your study (e.g. limitation of your theoretical perspective).


You may include the following major sections in your essay:

1 Introduction (Maximum words limit – 600)

2 Description of the organisational problem (Maximum words limit – 1200)

3 Root causes of the problem (Maximum words limit – 2000)

4 Proposed solutions (Maximum words limit- 1500)

5 Challenges of implementing the solutions (Maximum words limit – 500)

6 Conclusions (Maximum words limit – 200)

7 References


Useful Journals

  1. British Journal of Management
  2. Social Science & Medicine
  3. Academy of Management Review
  4. Journal of Management in Medicine
  5. Human Relations
  6. MIS Quarterly
  7. International Journal of Health Informatics
  8. Academy of Management Journal
  9. Hospital and Health Service Administration
  10. Administrative Science Quarterly
  11. Health Care Management Review
  12. European Journal of Information Systems
  13. Journal of Health Organisation and Management
  14. Public Money & Management
  15. Health Service Research
  16. Journal of Management
  17. International Journal of Health Planning and Management
  18. Health Care Manager
  19. Information Systems Journal
  20. Health Affairs
  21. Journal of Management Studies
  22. Journal of Healthcare Management
  23. Information Systems Research
  24. British Medical Journal
  25. Harvard Business Review
  26. California Management Review
  27. Journal of Management in Medicine
  28. MIT Sloan Management Review
  29. International Journal of Management Reviews
  30. Academy of Management Perspectives
  31. Journal of Management Inquiry
  32. Health Care: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation