Inter-Organizational Service Delivery in Chinese Hospital Industry: A Social Exchange Perspective

Huibin SHI, Yuan LI


This article develops and tests a conceptual framework to shed light on relationship benefits and the inter-organizational patient referral process between Chinese hospitals. Based on a sample of 175 dyadic pairs of responses, the study empirically tests for reciprocal behaviors in inter-organizational service delivery process. Chinese hospitals can be divided into low and high level categories, and their benefits in the cooperation are different. The results indicated that performance improvement and knowledge acquisition as the benefits of low level hospitals positively influence their willingness of providing upstream patient referrals to their partner, and market development as the benefits of high level hospitals positively influences their willingness of providing downstream patient referrals to their partner. Thus, the realization of each party’s benefits has a significant effect on the success of inter-organizational healthcare delivery. Some implications are provided for practitioners, academics, governments as well as the public.


Reciprocity; Knowledge acquisition; Inter-organization healthcare delivery; Market development; Patient referrals

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