Australia is among the countries known for an increased number of health-care facilities that, in turn, can be connected to the continuous growth of health-care costs. Nevertheless, regardless of financial concerns, even more critical issues require consideration—the impact of the health-care sector as a whole and hospitals in particular on the natural environment (Bhakoo, Singh, & Sohal 2012). As the sector expands, the volume of resulting waste is increasing proportionately due to the fact that not all resources used are exposable as well as the fact that wastes are not recycled. As a result, hospitals are being forced to seek ways to decrease the volume of waste and related costs. One efficient way to cope with this challenge is to restructure the organization’s supply chain management so that it meets the requirements of green supply chain management. This objective can be achieved by adhering to the provisions of ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. However, in selecting ways to introduce green practices, comprehensive research is needed. Therefore, the main focus of this research study is to investigate strategies for deploying ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 as guidelines for achieving green supply chain management in Australian hospitals.
The project is designed as a mixed approach study. Conclusions regarding the potential influence of green supply chain management according to ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 will be drawn based on qualitative and quantitative data analysis. On the one hand, collecting quantitative data is essential for estimating costs related to covering environmental expenses as well as tracing changes in this segment of expenditures. On the other hand, the qualitative data will focus on hospital employees’ knowledge about green supply chain management and the critical importance of greening. In all, according to the specificities of the research design, it may be possible to develop efficient ways to foster the transition toward greening in Australian hospitals.
Because the project aims at explaining the connection between ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 and green supply chain management, raising awareness about scarcities in Australian hospitals, and developing a greening procedure that will complement the specific characteristics of Australian hospitals, this investigation is of great practical significance. It can be assumed that the research may be valuable for developing a transition model for one representative Australian hospital, thus serving as a guideline for other health-care facilities operating within the Australian health-care sector. For the particular hospital that will be studied, this research may be beneficial in offering potentially efficient ways to reduce environmental and general health-care costs, to implement environmentally friendly practices, and to enhance overall performance. The main benefit of the research, however, is related to increasing awareness about the positive influence of green supply chain management on hospitals—reducing or recycling waste, constructing green buildings, and decreasing the volume of resources used. This would also include motivating employees to avoid using cars for getting to work; minimizing pollution caused by transporting equipment, patients, and medications; cooperating with environmentally friendly suppliers (those already adhering to ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 provisions); and giving preference to renewable sources of energy instead of fuels (Camgöz-Akdag et al. 2016).
Data Collection and Management Approaches
Data Collection Procedures
For the purposes of this research, several data collection procedures will be employed. They have been selected based on the specificities of the determined research design, which is a mixed approach study. Therefore, because two kinds of data—qualitative and quantitative—will be necessary for drawing conclusions and addressing the central research questions, a variety of data collection procedures will be put to use. Within the context of this research, field, clinical, and laboratory methods for collecting information are not applicable as the study is not medical in nature. However, it is still possible to point to the differences in the sources of the information sought. For instance, quantitative data—critical for estimating hospital environmental costs and the changes in their rates—will be obtained from the archives of the identified Australian hospital (the setting of the research study). Annual reports will be the foundation of this data collection method. In order to collect this information, it is imperative to collaborate with the selected Australian hospital and obtain access to its financial information.
In contrast, the qualitative data—knowledge about greening and the perception of green supply chain management as well as its criticality for enhancing the effectiveness of the hospital’s operation—will be obtained from people. This data will be collected directly from employees of the selected Australian hospital. Interviews and questionnaires have been chosen as the main tools for collecting the necessary information. The people under consideration are 15 participants who will be included in the research sample. They will occupy different positions within the health-care facility: management, administration, and medical staff.
Both types of data collection procedures are acceptable given the specificities of the research design. In order to support this statement, it is essential to focus on several arguments regarding the differences between qualitative and quantitative data. On the one hand, quantitative data should be objective (Leech et al. 2010). This means that it should describe a particular phenomenon based on the researcher’s estimation of the development according to any standard measure. Within the context of this research, it is necessary to analyze costs measured in national currency. In studying this kind of data, an organization’s reports are a common tool for collecting data because they are objective and are developed based on standard procedures and calculations. Qualitative data, on the other hand, usually focuses on individual perceptions of a particular issue or phenomenon. This information is subjective, not objective (Creswell 2013). For this reason, obtaining data directly from people with their own personal experiences that shape a specific stance is appropriate. Based on these arguments, both data collection procedures are acceptable.
Data Management and Protection Approaches
Due to differences between data collection procedures, it is essential to focus on different approaches to managing and protecting data. This aspect of research should be estimated from the perspective of both qualitative and quantitative data. In terms of the quantitative data—reports necessary for estimating hospital’s expenditures—it is critical to emphasize the importance of cooperating with the selected Australian hospital. In this case, even though some financial information can be obtained through a simple online search, collaborating with the health-care organization under consideration is the only way to obtain access to full and detailed financial information. At the same time, it is imperative to assure hospital management that no data will be shared with third parties without the official permission of hospital management. To guarantee this, an agreement should be signed.
As for the qualitative data, regarding the perception of greening and being aware of its criticality to becoming a cost-effective and environmentally friendly hospital, it is essential to pay special attention to confidentiality issues (Beauchamp & Childress 2013). For instance, it is necessary to provide sample participants with relevant and adequate details of the research objectives and ask them to complete informed consent forms (Foster 2013). Moreover, it is essential to assure them that their names will not be mentioned in the paper and that their anonymity will be respected. To achieve this objective, except for not mentioning names, no voice recordings will be made. Instead, written records and notes during interviews will be preferred. In addition, all personal information of sample participants will be coded, precluding any identification of participants by third-party persons. In both cases, data should be kept in password-protected documents with copies in a protected cloud space to minimize the risks of losing information. Moreover, both the hospital administration and staff members included in the research sample should be made aware of the extent of using the information collected from reports, interviews, and questionnaires. Finally, the right to publish research findings should be negotiated with the administrators of the facility, eliminating or at least minimizing the risks of potential conflicts connected to the decision to publish research findings in scholarly journals (Sever 2017).
Risk Identification and Management
Based on the specificities of the given research, there are several risks to consider. First, it is essential to mention that there are no physical, dependency, or psychological risks because the research is not medical in nature. However, some legal and privacy protection issues remain. Legal risks are associated with identifying scarcities in the selected Australian hospital. Because the focus will be on the performance of the hospital (not only its expenditures), there may be risks of revealing legal imperfections. Therefore, senior management may be unwilling to be involved in the project, especially if no attention is paid to describing the objective of the project and its benefits in detail.
Except for legal risks, some significant privacy protection issues exist as well. Even though all respondents will be guaranteed that their confidentiality and privacy will be respected, it is still possible that they will not trust the researcher. This is a critical issue because cooperation with those included in the sample is important for obtaining relevant and accurate information as the foundation for drawing appropriate conclusions. The unwillingness to cooperate may also be associated with the fear of being penalized or punished by the senior management of the hospital in the case of revealing sensitive data. Thus, the beneficence of the research and privacy considerations are the main risks within the context of this study. They are critical due to their direct connection to the chances of addressing the research question relevantly and achieving the research aims. However, even more importantly, these risks may be the cause of failing to develop an appropriate framework for the transition toward green supply chain management and the introduction of the provisions of ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.
There are several ways to manage the risks mentioned above. To begin with, it is imperative to point out that once the primary risks are determined, it is advisable to help respondents and hospital management to understand that potential benefits to the hospital in particular and community as a whole outweigh the risks (Beauchamp & Childress 2013). This approach is referred to as a risk-benefit analysis. To successfully conduct this analysis, risk acceptability ratios should be determined. Moreover, collecting informed consent forms and signing agreements may be beneficial for managing the revealed risks. These management procedures have been described above.
Moreover, to help respondents and hospital management successfully deal with their considerations regarding risks, it is imperative to share adequate and comprehensive details about the research and its potential contribution to the future development of the selected hospital and Australian health care as a whole. In this case, they should be familiar with such benefits as enhancing the hospital’s ability to pursue the objective of becoming a cost-effective organization, improving overall performance, and enhancing safety in the workplace as well as creating a safe environment for both patients and community members. Once respondents and senior management of the chosen Australian hospital acknowledge that the benefits are significant compared to legal and privacy protection risks, they are likely to become interested in being involved in the research project and to share the type of information necessary for addressing the central research questions and achieving research objectives in a relevant and efficient manner.
Risks for the Researcher
In addition to risks for the sample participants and the selected hospital, there are also some risks for the graduate researcher. Just as in the case of the respondents and hospital management, there are no physical, medical, or psychological risks for the researcher because the project does not involve laboratory or field investigations. Also, there are no risks for technical or support staff because they are not directly engaged in the project. Nevertheless, legal and intellectual property risks must be considered. As discussed regarding the first group of risks, they are associated with failing to fully and adequately comply with the provisions of the agreement signed with the senior management of the selected Australian hospital or those concluded with the research sample participants. They may range from personal complaints to filing a lawsuit. These risks may derive not only from failing to follow all determined provisions but also from neglecting to pay attention to identifying provisions that would cover all potential aspects of cooperation with the hospital as well as respondents and developing mechanisms for addressing them. In addition to legal risks, there are also intellectual property considerations. In this case, it is essential to emphasize the right to publish research findings under the name of the graduate researchers. Here, it is critical to guarantee adequate data protection to eliminate the risks of losing data and prevent third parties from having access to research findings and publishing them.
In order to manage the revealed risks, it is advisable to include several procedures in the management plan for the proposed projects. First, it is critical to pay special attention to developing adequate agreements that will cover all aspects of the research and offer ways to address the most obvious potential conflicts with both respondents and senior management of the selected hospital. In addition, it is imperative to assure that these provisions are strictly followed to minimize the probabilities of the identified risks. Finally, it is of significant importance to respect the dignity of those involved in the research and protect their privacy in order to avoid legal or confidentiality risks.
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