Past PhD researchers

Find out more about how our students fared after they secured their PhD.

Dr Joy Furnival

Division: Innovation Management and Policy, AMBS
Supervisors: Prof Kieran Walshe and Prof Ruth Boaden 

My doctoral thesis examines the regulatory conceptualisation and assessment of improvement capability in healthcare organisations in the UK.  Regulatory agencies are always seeking new ways to reduce variation and improve performance, and the use of approaches to develop improvement capability is increasingly encouraged.

The research study uses data from 48 interviews, 90 regulatory policy documents and 30 assessment reports. Regulatory conceptualisations of improvement capability are explored through cross-case comparison and qualitative analysis. A review of 70 instruments and frameworks for the assessment of improvement capability from the literature identifies that there are plural conceptualisations of improvement capability. The findings from the review are synthesised into eight dimensions of improvement capability which are used to analyse the empirical data and to develop a conceptual framework.

The analysis finds an emergent trend towards responsive regulatory models which aim to develop improvement capability. However, the analysis identifies ambiguity in regulatory agencies' conceptualisation of improvement capability with two dimensions of improvement capability used more frequently than others in regulatory assessments. Regulatory agencies need to clarify their conceptualisation of improvement capability and supplement their assessment processes to further understand local circumstances. This can be used to inform more flexible regulatory responses, including the tailored provision of improvement support to develop improvement capability. This requires greater regulatory effort and resources, and the analysis finds there are three areas of tension, linked to regulatory roles, resources and relationships.

The research study proposes a conceptual framework of improvement capability that can be used to clarify regulatory conceptualisation and assessment of improvement capability. Greater conceptual clarity will strengthen regulatory agencies' assessment, diagnosis and prediction of organisational performance trajectories, and support the advancement of more appropriate, effective and responsive regulatory interventions, including the development of improvement healthcare organisations in the UK.

Joy works at The University of Manchester as a Senior Lecturer as part of the NHS Leadership Academy Anderson Programme. Most recently Joy worked within in healthcare policy and strategy for NHS Improvement developing leadership and improvement programmes for NHS Trust boards and organisations. Joy has over 20 years’ experience, working with organisations and teams to improve within healthcare and industry Joy has worked for several organisations including ICI, ABB, PPG, NHS Blood and Transplant and a number of NHS Trusts. Joy is a Health Foundation Fellow and graduate of the Generation Q leadership programme and the national NHS Gateway to Leadership programme.  Joy is a Chartered Engineer. Joy is a Board Trustee for the Bishop Fraser multi-academy schools Trust in Bolton, UK.