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James W. Begun, PhD
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Dr. James W. Begun is the James A. Hamilton Professor of Healthcare Management in the Division of Health Policy & Management at the University Of Minnesota School Of Public Health. He is known for his work to strengthen the relationship of complexity science to health care management education and research. His recent publications include "Interprofessional Care Teams: The Role of the Healthcare Administrator" in the Journal of Interprofessional Care, vol. 25, no. 2, March, 2011, pp. 119-123 (with Kenneth R. White and Gordon Mosser) and "The Challenge of Change: Inspiring Leadership." Pp. 239-262 in Claire Lindberg, Sue Nash, and Curt Lindberg (eds.), On the Edge: Nursing in the Age of Complexity. Bordertown, NJ: PlexusPress, 2008 (with Kenneth R. White).. In addition to serving on the Plexus Institute Science Advisory Board, he serves the Board of Commissioners for the Commission on Nurse Certification, the Board of Directors for the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, and is on the Editorial Advisory Board for Health Care Management Review. Honors include: Leonard M. Schuman Award for Excellence in Teaching, School of Public Health; Gary L. Filerman Prize for Innovation in Healthcare Management Education, Association of University Programs in Health Administration; Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, MHA Class of 2006; and the Curtis Cup Outstanding Teacher Award.


Research Interests: Structure, strategy, and performance of healthcare organizations; evolution of the professions of nursing and healthcare administration; and Healthcare Organizations as Complex Adaptive Systems.

Q & A with James Begun

What questions are you most excited about exploring these days?
  1. What new types of complex healthcare organizational forms are emerging in the changing healthcare delivery landscape?
  2. How can we help them be more effective?
  3. How are the leadership functions of organizations met by different combinations of agents and processes?
  4. How are complexity science insights best fit into the operational world of practitioners and researchers who are not ardent followers of complexity science?
What other research/researchers are you tracking?

I read anything new (or old) by K. Weick. I follow the work of those who push complexity science to application in health services delivery (e.g., R. McDaniel, R. Anderson, B. Crabtree). I find it intriguing to re-read the wisdom of the ages: I'm reading early systems thinking literature and marveling at foresight of R. Ackoff, G.P. Richardson, P. Senge, and others. I really appreciated the 2003 overview of the evolution of schools of thought by M. Jackson, Systems Thinking.

What do you think is the most promising idea/theory emerging from complexity science for making a difference in fulfilling Plexus' mission?
I resist the idea of identifying one most promising idea. It's too early in the evolution of the field. Plus, many useful ideas that are consistent with complexity science are co-emerging from related arenas of thought (positive deviance is one example).


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