Academic journal article HERD : Health Environments Research & Design Journal

Corporate Sustainability: The Environmental Design and Human Resource Management Interface in Healthcare Settings

Academic journal article HERD : Health Environments Research & Design Journal

Corporate Sustainability: The Environmental Design and Human Resource Management Interface in Healthcare Settings

Article excerpt

Introduction

Corporations can be seen as business entities that form the economic system of a society. Corporations can also be viewed as social artifacts composed of institutionalized activities. As such, when it comes to enterprises, the term sustainability represents two separate but interrelated concepts: (1) creating an enduring competitive advantage for companies to stay in business and (2) meeting their responsibilities toward the sustainable development of the society in which they conduct their activities. As suggested by Baumgartner and Ebner (2010), Dyllick and Hockerts (2002), and Khan (1995), to succeed in these two aspects organizations need to obtain and use a wide array of resources, including economic, social, and ecological capital. This article deals with the first aspect of corporate sustainability, which is the way organizational resources are used for creating an enduring competitive advantage.

One approach for study of sustainability of competitive advantages is the resource-based view (RBV) of firms first proposed by Wernerfelt (1984). He described how creating the bundle of valuable resources can result in a competitive advantage for organizations and argued that differences in firm performance come from the differences in the resources they own. As advocates of RBV, Wright, McMahan, and McWilliams (1994) suggest that in order for an organization to have an enduring competitive advantage, it has to acquire different types of capital (economic, social, and ecological) and combine them to create value-generating resources often referred to as an organizational resource bundle.

Organizational resource bundles contribute to performance advantage to the extent that they are rare, costly to imitate, and nonsubstitutable (Armstrong & Shimizu, 2007; Barney, 1991; Dyllick & Hockerts, 2002; Sirmon, Hitt, & Gove, 2008). According to Barney (1991), the firm's competitors should not possess the same resource bundle, not be able to easily recreate its value, nor be able to generate the same outcome by using an alternative resource bundle. This paper proposes a model for linking the human resource management system of organizations with their facilities for enhancing the three characteristics described above to increase the sustainability of competitive advantages. The proposed framework focuses on the influence of physical features of the work environment on job attitudes of healthcare professionals and is developed by adopting key findings from studies on strategic human resource management, resource-based view of firms, evidence-based design, and green buildings.

Healthcare organizations should give attention to the synergy between organizational management intervention and environmental design interventions. Limiting expenses and ensuring quality services are each imperative to a healthcare organization's corporate sustainability. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), approximately 60 cents of every dollar of expenditures goes to caregivers and other hospital workers. Human resource-related expenses are higher than other essential expenses, including medications, devices, and other supplies, as well as improvements to treatment facilities, installation or upgrades of health information technologies, utilities, and liability coverage (American Hospital Association, 2011). As a result, human resource-related expenses are primary targets of cost-containment strategies when funding becomes limited. However, as Filipova (2011) notes, strategies that require lowering stafflevels may not ultimately be worth the tradeoffand organizations must find alternative ways to optimize expenditures without sacrificing the quality of service. From an organizational management viewpoint, this study provides healthcare organizations with an alternative perspective for developing cost-avoidance strategies based on managerial and architectural design solutions to improve employees' job attitudes and enrich organizational capabilities. …

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