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Management Professor Receives International Award

UC Riverside Professor’s Study of “Hybrid” Physician-Executive Profession Receives International Management Award

(September 4, 2003)

Kathleen Montgomery

Kathleen Montgomery

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — — A study of the dynamics at work in the formation of professional groups by Kathleen Montgomery, associate professor of organizations and management at the University of California, Riverside, has received the Best Paper Award from the Academy of Management’s Healthcare Management Division. Montgomery presented the paper at the academy’s annual meeting in Seattle in August.

The paper, titled “Creating Entities Through the Networking Dynamics of Boundary Construction,” identifies the activities that new professions undertake to become recognized in their field. Montgomery examined the new profession of physician executives, or doctors who decide to leave clinical practice and become leaders of hospitals or health plans.

The Academy of Management is the most comprehensive international professional association for scholars studying management issues. Montgomery said her paper, co-authored with Amalya L. Oliver of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was one of about 4,000 submitted this year for review. The best papers in the Academy’s 21 divisions are among those presented at the annual meeting, which took place Aug. 4 through 6.

“It’s a wonderful feeling of affirmation from my professional colleagues, who are in a position to know the impact of such a paper,” Montgomery said.

The practical impact of Montgomery’s study lies in the insights it offers to management professionals and policymakers who are trying to understand how best to work with members of the new professional group. The analysis can reveal how the new professionals think of themselves and who they consider to be their most important allies outside the profession.

For instance, Montgomery’s case study of physician executives showed that the new profession formed in response to changes triggered by the growth of managed care in the 1970s and 1980s. The emerging group, as a hybrid profession of clinicians and managers, forged alliances with the American Medical Association and with schools of business at Harvard, UCLA, USC, and elsewhere.

“It’s important to these professionals that they not lose their identity as physicians, even as they assume positions in management,” Montgomery said.

The managed care movement fundamentally changed the way health care was determined, accessed, organized, monitored, paid for, and financed. The changes led to successive layers of managerial control that shifted much of the decision making away from individual doctors and toward health care organizations. The physician executive is the potentially pivotal group that can effectively integrate the managerial imperatives of managed health care within clinical decision making.

“These doctors try to bring a big-picture view of what medicine can and cannot accomplish, especially in terms of resources,” Montgomery said. “At the same time, they can still speak as doctors.”

“Physician executives have had to address the question of how to allocate and maintain a high quality of healthcare at a time when we do not have unlimited resources to give everyone the level of healthcare they would want,” she added.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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