Incorporators, Early Investors, and Learners: a longitudinal study of organizational adaptation during EBP implementation and sustainment

Sep 10, 2020 | Lengnick-Hall

BACKGROUND: The majority of literature on evidence-based practice (EBP) adaptation focuses on changes to clinical practices without explicitly addressing how organizations must adapt to accommodate a new EBP. This study explores the process of organizational-rather than EBP-adaptation during implementation and sustainment. To the authors’ knowledge, there are no previous implementation studies that focus on organizational adaptation in this way.

METHODS: This analysis utilizes a case study approach to examine longitudinal qualitative data from 17 community-based organizations (CBOs) in one state and seven county-based child welfare systems. The CBOs had sustained a child-neglect intervention EBP (SafeCare®) for 2 to 10 years. The unit of analysis was the organization, and each CBO represented a case. Organizational-level profiles were created to describe the organizational adaptation process.

RESULTS: Three organizational-level adaptation profiles were identified as follows: incorporators (n = 7), early investors (n = 6), and learners (n = 4). Incorporators adapted by integrating SafeCare into existing operations to meet contractual or EBP fidelity requirements. Early Investors made substantial organizational adaptations during the early implementation period, then operated relatively consistently as the EBP became embedded in the organization and service system. Learners were characterized by steady and continuous attention to new ways that the organization could adapt to support the EBP.

CONCLUSION: The profiles demonstrated that there can be multiple effective paths to EBP sustainment. Organizational adaptation was calibrated to fit a CBO’s operations (e.g., size of the program) and immediate environmental constraints (e.g., funding levels). Additionally, organizations fulfilled different functional roles in the network of entities involved in EBP implementation. Knowing organizational roles and adaptation profiles can guide implementation planning and help to structure contract designs that bridge the outer (system) and inner (organizational) contexts. Adaptation profiles can also inform the intensity of the implementation strategy tailoring process and the way that strategies are marketed to organizations.

PubMed Abstract

Lengnick-Hall, R., Willging, C. E., Hurlburt, M. S., & Aarons, G. A. (2020). Incorporators, Early Investors, and Learners: a longitudinal study of organizational adaptation during EBP implementation and sustainment. Implement Sci, 15(1), 74. doi:10.1186/s13012-020-01031-w