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LINK Research Institute

HR Systems and Change within the Irish Health Service

The Irish Health Service underwent a major rationalisation programme in 2005 that involved the abolition of the existing health board structures. This represented the largest reform that the health system has seen in over 30 years, with widespread human resource implications. The old system was deemed unmanageable; there was a lack of clarity of roles and decision making processes were hugely complex. There were also considerable tensions between national policy and local considerations, which extended to the management of human resources. The prospects of this reform on the employment relationship and on the commitment of employees will therefore be profound and to successfully implement the change, the commitment of staff to this radical reform is crucial. This study investigates the impact of the changes on employee attitudes along a number of dimensions including employee citizenship behaviour, transformational leadership, and commitment to change. The research represents a significant contribution to better understanding of the linkages between HRM and the process of change, an issue that has not been directly investigated in the literature, and the linkages between HRM and performance. The research comprises: interviews with key decision makers and those involved in change initiatives within the health sector; questionnaires to employees within the health sector; follow-up interviews and the analysis of secondary sources. The research was carried out by Dr Edel Conway and Prof Kathy Monks. It led to a number of publications in Human Resource Management Journal, Personnel Review and Health Manager. The research was funded by the Health Research Board. Further details are available from Edel Conway (