School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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    A network approach for researching partnerships in health.
    Lewis, JM (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2005-10-07)
    BACKGROUND: The last decade has witnessed a significant move towards new modes of governing that are based on coordination and collaboration. In particular, local level partnerships have been widely introduced around the world. There are few comprehensive approaches for researching the effects of these partnerships. The aim of this paper is to outline a network approach that combines structure and agency based explanations to research partnerships in health. Network research based on two Primary Care Partnerships (PCPs) in Victoria is used to demonstrate the utility of this approach. The paper examines multiple types of ties between people (structure), and the use and value of relationships to partners (agency), using interviews with the people involved in two PCPs--one in metropolitan Melbourne and one in a rural area. RESULTS: Network maps of ties based on work, strategic information and policy advice, show that there are many strong connections in both PCPs. Not surprisingly, PCP staff are central and highly connected. Of more interest are the ties that are dependent on these dedicated partnership staff, as they reveal which actors become weakly linked or disconnected without them. Network measures indicate that work ties are the most dispersed and strategic information ties are the most concentrated around fewer people. Divisions of general practice are weakly linked, while local government officials and Department of Human Services (DHS) regional staff appear to play important bridging roles. Finally, the relationships between partners have changed and improved, and most of those interviewed value their new or improved links with partners. CONCLUSION: Improving service coordination and health promotion planning requires engaging people and building strong relationships. Mapping ties is a useful means for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of partnerships, and network analysis indicates concentration and dispersion, the importance of particular individuals, and the points at which they will fragment. A narrative approach adds an assessment of whether the partnerships are being used and valued. The approach outlined here, which examines structure and agency as separate but related explanations, has much to offer in examining partnerships.
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    Explaining the Normative Underpinnings of Local Governance
    CONSIDINE, M ; LEWIS, JM ; SMYTH, PG ; JONES, A ; REDDEL, T (University of New South Wales Press, 2005)
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    Governance, networks and civil society: How local governments connect to local organisations and groups
    CONSIDINE, M ; LEWIS, J ; ALEXANDER, D (University of New South Wales Press, 2008)
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    Who are the innovators inside government? The importance of networks
    CONSIDINE, M ; LEWIS, J ; ALEXANDER, D (The University of Melbourne, 2008)
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    Being around and knowing the players: Networks of influence in health policy
    Lewis, JM (PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2006-05-01)
    The accumulation and use of power is crucial to the health policy process. This paper examines the power of the medical profession in the health policy arena, by analysing which actors are perceived as influential, and how influence is structured in health policy. It combines an analysis of policy networks and social networks, to examine positional and personal influence in health policy in the state of Victoria, Australia. In the sub-graph of the influence network examined here, those most widely regarded as influential are academics, medically qualified and male. Positional actors (the top politician, political advisor and bureaucrat in health and the top nursing official) form part of a core group within this network structure. A second central group consists of medical influentials working in academia, research institutes and health-related NGOs. In this network locale overall, medical academics appear to combine positional and personal influence, and play significant intermediary roles across the network. While many claim that the medical profession has lost power in health policy and politics, this analysis yields few signs that the power of medicine to shape the health policy process has been greatly diminished in Victoria. Medical expertise is a potent embedded resource connecting actors through ties of association, making it difficult for actors with other resources and different knowledge to be considered influential. The network concepts and analytical techniques used here provide a novel means for uncovering different types of influence in health policy.
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    Health Policy and Politics: Networks, Ideas and Power
    LEWIS, JM (IP Communications, 2005)
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    Changing professions - General Practitioners' perceptions of autonomy on the frontline
    Lewis, JM ; Marjoribanks, T ; Pirotta, M (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2003-03-01)
    Professional autonomy is a much-used concept which has operated with scant empirical attention directed at understanding its meaning among practitioners. This study investigates how General Practitioners (GPs) understand their professional autonomy, and what they perceive to be the main threats to it. Four focus groups were attended by 25 GPs in Melbourne. We found that GPs aspire to an ‘ideal type’ of professional who has the freedom to determine what is best for patients, but they believe their autonomy is threatened by financial constraints, greater accountability requirements, and more demanding patients. These findings reveal how GPs understand autonomy in their practice, and indicate that their concerns may have little to do with the deprofessionalization and proletarianization theses. Micro-level studies of GPs in the workplace, combined with greater understandings of different aspects of professional autonomy, appear useful in understanding how GPs’ work and autonomy is changing.