Decision-making fairness and consensus building in multisector community health alliances: A mixed-methods analysis

Academic Article


  • Given their inherently diverse composition and potentially competing interests, a foundational activity of community health alliances is establishing consensus on the vision and strategies for achieving its goals. Using an organizational justice framework, we examined whether member perceptions of fairness in alliances' decision-making processes are associated with the perceived level of consensus among members regarding the alliance vision and strategies. We used a mixed-methods design to examine the relationship between perceptions of fairness and consensus within fourteen multisector community health alliances. Quantitative analysis found the perceived level of consensus to be positively associated with decision-making transparency (procedural fairness), inclusiveness (procedural fairness), and benefits relative to costs (distributive fairness). Qualitative analysis indicated that the consensus-building process is facilitated by using formal decision-making frameworks and engaging alliance members in decision-making processes early. Alliance leaders may be more successful at building consensus when they recognize the need to appeal to a member's sense of procedural and distributive fairness, and, perhaps equally important, recognize when one rather than the other is called for and draw upon decision-making processes that most clearly evoke that sense of fairness. Our findings reinforce the importance of fairness in building and sustaining capacity for improving community health. © Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hearld LR; Alexander JA; Bodenschatz L; Louis CJ; O'Hora J
  • Start Page

  • 139
  • End Page

  • 161
  • Volume

  • 24
  • Issue

  • 2