Organisations within healthcare increasingly operate in rapidly changing environments and present wide variation in performance. It can be argued that this variation is influenced by the capability of an organisation to improve: its improvement capability. However, there is little theoretical research on improvement capability. The purpose of this paper is to set out the current diverse body of research on improvement capability and develop a theoretically informed conceptual framework.


This paper conceptualises improvement capability as a dynamic capability. This suggests that improvement capability is comprised of organisational routines that are bundled together, and adapt and react to organisational circumstances. Existing research conceptualises these bundles as three elements (microfoundations): sensing, seizing and reconfiguring. This conceptualisation is used to explore how improvement capability can be understood, by inductively categorising eight dimensions of improvement capability to develop a theoretically informed conceptual framework.


This paper shows that the three microfoundations which make up a dynamic capability are present in the identified improvement capability dimensions. This theoretically based conceptual framework provides a rich explanation of how improvement capability can be configured.


Furnival, J.Boaden, R. and Walshe, K. (2019), "A dynamic capabilities view of improvement capability", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 33 No. 7/8, pp. 821-834. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHOM-11-2018-0342

You might also like...

Journal article

Socioeconomic differences in help seeking for colorectal cancer symptoms during COVID-19

Journal article

How socio-economic difference affect patient's ability to seek primary care for colrectal cancer.


The International Forum on Quality and Safety in Health care 2022


The Health Foundation have a number of speaking sessions at the International Forum on Quality and...

Journal article

Scale-up of ABC care bundle for intracerebral haemorrhage across two hyperacute stroke units in one region in England

Journal article

Improving ABC care bundles folllowing intracebral haemorrohage.  

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

LONG READ: As the NHS continues to deal with the pandemic, how could better use of data help address the challenges… https://t.co/ntNT86M0cS

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more