The main issue here is that all the parties involved have “heterogeneous goals” and there is “competitive interdependence” between all of them (Pfeffer 68-69). There is a relatively limited amount of resources (money) and yet all members need a balloon pump that does a different function. If one group gets the pump it wants it means that the other groups will not get what they want. Therefore, “power is virtually the only way to resolve the decision” as there is no one, “agreed upon goal” (Pfeffer 70 & 77).
The “cardiologists and nurses on the coronary care unit” needed a pump that could track the patients’ heart rhythm (Eddy 2). The thoracic intensive care unit needed a pump that could work with patients’ that had pacemakers inside of them. In the “cath lab” pumps were needed in case of emergencies. And in the operating room pumps were used after heart-lung bypass to wean people’s hearts back to work. All four of these groups had different uses for the pumps, and so needed pumps with different capabilities.
Another important factor in determining which pump to buy was how easily the pump could be operated. This was described by the acronym KISS, which meant “Keep It Simple, Stupid” (Eddy 16). Because the hospital had to deal with high-tension situations it needed a pump that could be easily operated under stress. Though the available pumps often satisfied more than one group’s requirements they did so to varying degrees and some groups requirements could not be satisfied. There were varying goals that people wanted to achieve, but there was scarcity of money that could be allocated to these goals and so a competitive interdependence existed. This was the main reason that a power struggle emerged in the hospital.
The issue was an important one, as people’s lives would be determined depending on the pump that was picked. Nevertheless, it must be noted that another essential issue here was the symbolic importance of the decision that was going to be made. The nurses had an interest in picking the pumps because they were the ones that used it most often. But they also had a political interest in leading the committee. The nurses felt that they were usually overlooked and did not posses much prestige or power in the hospital. Hence, they saw leading the committee as a sort of distinction and a way to obtain political control.
Even though the nurses were the ones that used the machine the most they were not the ones essentially responsible for the patients lives. It was the doctors who took on this responsibility. Still, the reason that the nurses got to lead the committee has to do with the fact that they brought up the pump issue, did use the pump the most often and, most importantly, because the hospital wanted to create a structure for “decision-making at lower levels” in hopes of creating “greater collaboration among departments and between health professionals” (Eddy 6). Since the administration had access to the money (the scarce...