Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Business


Faculty of Business

First Supervisor

Dr Alan Brown


This thesis examines Health Care Managers' considerations with and experiences of outsourcing services in Western Australian hospitals. Support services such as cleaning and maintenance are some of the areas which have been targeted for outsourcing (contracting out) by the state government. These services have traditionally been delivered by permanently employed staff either on a full or part- time basis, usually with active union involvement. Core services such as nursing and medical care which involve direct patient care delivery are not included in the outsourcing debate. Firstly, this thesis reviews the literature on outsourcing and its application to the health care industry. Performance indicators and benchmarking are also explored within the context of contracted out services in a variety of settings. The implicit economic, social and legal implications are discussed. This study involved Health Care Managers in Western Australian hospitals and was conducted between June 1995 and May 1996. Their experiences with outsourcing of services together with the hospitals and the communities they served were key considerations in the final analysis. The research findings support the views of more recent studies which emphasize the importance of the context within which outsourcing is implemented, such as rural versus metropolitan hospitals. Hospital size, location, accessibility to contractors, human resource issues and funding arrangements such as those which affect teaching and non- teaching facilities were identified as major determinants affecting the degree to which outsourcing had been embraced. Finally, the implications of this research for future studies are discussed.