Glenn Robert

Glenn Robert


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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a sociologist who studies innovations in the delivery of health and care services, as well as quality improvement interventions.

My research interests include collaborating with product and service designers to identify and test frameworks and methods that may have value in addressing design and development challenges facing healthcare systems and services. I currently co-lead a co-design workstream within the new Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded Digital Health Hub at King’s Health Partners (EP/X030628/1) and have previously led an Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded project exploring innovative participatory methods in health & social care (ES/V006363/1).

A particular focus of work since 2004 has been on developing and testing an innovative ‘Experience-based Co-design' (EBCD) approach for improving service quality and developing complex innovations. The approach has been applied and evaluated in numerous settings in the NHS and has subsequently been implemented internationally. EBCD combines (1) a user-centred orientation (by adopting a filmed narrative storytelling approach) and (2) a participatory, collaborative and creative change process.

I have been a Principal Investigator or co-applicant on over 40 externally funded research grants since 1996 including 18 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) grants (5 as Principal Investigator) as well as grants from the ESRC, EPSRC, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the European Union FP7 and H2020 programmes and the Health Foundation. 

Dissemination of findings arising from my research has often been via international public policy journals and those focusing specifically on the quality of health care. Amongst my peer-reviewed journal articles are publications in British Medical Journal, Milbank Quarterly, BMJ Quality & Safety, Medical Humanities and Implementation Science

Over the last 25 years of conducting research in the healthcare sector I have also co-authored/edited five books. One of these - which explored how innovations in health care delivery and organisation diffuse and are disseminated - was the 2006 winner of the Baxter Award for the most outstanding contribution to healthcare management in Europe. The associated journal publication has been cited over 5000 times becoming a seminal paper in the field.

The findings from a cross-cultural ethnographic study - with RAND in the United States - of high performing health care systems in America and Europe that focuses upon quality and service improvement as a dynamic process (as distinct from studying specific factors in isolation) were also published as a book entitled ‘Organizing for Quality. The improvement journeys of leading hospitals in Europe and the United States’. The ‘Organising for Quality’ framework formed the basis for a later three year EU-funded study with partners in five European countries exploring the relationships between the organisational and cultural characteristics of hospitals and how these impact upon clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient experience in 10 hospital case studies. A resulting Board-level organisational development intervention (iQUASER) was later developed, implemented and evaluated in English acute hospitals.

Previous quality improvement research includes the first evaluations in the NHS of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s ‘Breakthrough’ Collaborative method (2000-2002) as well as bringing new perspectives on large-scale change. The latter most notably involved exploring and testing the value of bringing social movement thinking to healthcare quality improvement efforts. 

Examples of recently completed and ongoing research projects include:

  • a six year programme with colleagues at Jonkoping University in Sweden exploring, measuring and enhancing co-production at the national, regional and local levels
  • a 30 month study exploring the local operation and impact of Healthwatch in England to optimise patient and public voice in healthcare commissioning and service provision
  • several EBCD projects either using the approach as part of local quality improvement work in different healthcare services or to develop complex interventions for improving the quality of care
  • a programme of research exploring and adapting Elinor Ostrom's principles for Collaborative Group Working within the context of co-production and co-design endeavours in health and social care settings.

Research interests (short)

Identifying, adapting and implementing frameworks that might have value in addressing the organisational development & change challenges facing healthcare organisations; designing and evaluating innovations in quality improvement and service delivery; participatory action research; design thinking; co-production

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Identifying new healthcare technologies, University of Southampton

Award Date: 3 Jul 2000

Sociology & Social Policy, Master of Social Science, University of Southampton

Award Date: 3 Jul 1995

Modern History & Politics, Bachelor of Arts, University of Southampton

Award Date: 2 Jul 1990

External positions

Visiting Professor, Jönköping University

1 Jan 2018 → …


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