An ethnographic observation study of the facilitator role in an implementation process

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Even though the importance of a facilitator during an implementation process is well described, the facilitator’s role is rarely problematized in relation to the organizational context in terms of power and legitimacy; themes which have recently been brought to the fore when studying change in health care organizations. Therefore, in this article, we present a qualitative study with the aim of identifying key aspects of the experience of being in a facilitator role. The data collection involved ethnographic fieldwork encompassing observations and field notes, as well as two qualitative interviews with the facilitator. The data were analysed using a phenomenological hermeneutical method in order to formulate thematic aspects of the implementation process. The study was conducted in southern Sweden between January 2013 and August 2014.

One main theme, “walking a tightrope”, and four sub-themes, all of which involved balancing acts of different levels and different ways, were identified. These included: being in control, but needing to adjust; pushing for change, but forced to stand back; being accepted, but dependent; and being reasonable, but culturally sensitive.

Instead of listing the desirable qualities and conditions of a facilitator, this study shows that being a facilitator can be described more completely by applying the concept of role, thus allowing a more holistic process of reflection and analysis. This in turn makes it possible to move from the reactive stance of balancing to a more proactive stance of negotiating.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology
Original languageEnglish
Article number10:630
JournalBMC Research Notes
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch

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