Medical Organization Studies (MOS)

Redesigning our research agenda we henceforth will focus more general on medical organizations, not exclusively on hospitals. In future studies organization will have stronger consideration than management. We therefor reformulated the slogan from Hospital Management Studies (HMS) to Medical Organizations Studies (MOS).
The antecedent project on hospital management and organization was based on international comparative studies that were carried out in Europe (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), in East Asia (Japan and South Korea) as well as in South America (Brazil).


The Hospital Management Studies (HMS) program was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Heidelberg University’s Cluster of Excellence „Asia and Europe in a Global Context“. It builds on many years of research experience in the area of management studies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the US, East Asia, India and Latin America.

Sub-project ‘Hospital Management – New organizational and managerial approaches in international comparison’

Within the HMS program the sub-project ‘Hospital Management – New organizational and managerial approaches in international comparison’ is currently in process. It is related to the research project on the ‘Transculture of Capitalism’, which roots in Heidelberg University’s Cluster of Excellence „Asia and Europe in a Global Context“. The project focuses on administrative and medical directors of big hospitals in different countries. We investigate what kind of organizational and management concepts they adopt and use in their management practice. The project asks whether similar methods that became popular in the context of industrial management gain currency in different countries, or to what extent they are rejected or adapted to the specific needs of hospitals.
But it is also relevant to examine the social, economic and cultural imprint in this field. We trace the efforts to reorganize big hospitals back to different institutional settings, and in the international comparison we search for common trends of rationalization. We look at the outcomes of these trends with respect to patient’s wellbeing, the profitability of hospitals as well as their organizational and institutional foundations.


Today, hospitals all over the world face tremendous challenges. On the one hand the demand for medical treatment of the highest standard increases, on the other hand the economic pressure on hospitals increases, too. What reorganization requires is enormous: e.g. quality assurance, quality documentation, zero-error-rate, decreased duration of patients’ hospital stay, flat-rate payment and case management. These are only a few keywords in a discussion that takes place in academia as well as in the field in many world regions. Hospitals are expected to learn and benefit from industry, and they should comply with the standards of modern business management. Hospitals merge to hospital groups, hospital corporations gain ground and some institutions transform to specialist hospitals. At the same time, different professions with divergent ethics and principles clash. In this jungle of expectations, demands, statutory and cultural regulations, in times of economic pressure and hospital closures, today hospitals have to find a way to survive, to re-organize and to expand. Institutional pathways frame these dynamics. Empirical questions that emerge in this context are: whether and how far pathways adjust or paradigms shift, which groups of actors carry these developments, what concepts are adopted and which ones prevail in their new environment.

The research project is carried out by a research team under the direction of Prof. Dr. Markus Pohlmann at Heidelberg University, in close cooperation with our international partners in situ.

In 2013-14 Markus Pohlmann and Stefan Bär performed scientific research training with graduate students of the Max-Weber-Institute’s Master course in Sociology, for the duration of one year.

Project lead
Prof. Dr. Markus Pohlmann

Dr. Stefan Bär
Dr. Jaok Kwon-Hein