Positioning the Work of Health Professions Education Scholarship Units Academic Article uri icon

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  • Purpose

    Health professions education scholarship unit (HPESU) leaders often struggle to articulate their impact within local contexts. Previous research has described what markers of success and institutional logics to consider when crafting statements of impact; there is a need to clarify how HPESU leaders convey their messages to navigate competing demands. This study examined how leaders argue the legitimacy of their HPESUs' activities.


    The institutional logics perspective offered a lens for understanding how legitimacy claims are constructed through larger institutional orders. Interviews with leaders from 12 Canadian HPESUs discussed their unit's work, the stakeholders that leaders sought to satisfy, and how they defined success. Data were generated in 2011-2012 and analyzed anew in 2017-2018. The authors inductively analyzed the data, using institutional logics and institutional orders as sensitizing concepts to identify the linguistic constructions harnessed by participants.


    HPESU leaders engaged with 2 dominant logics: research and service. These aligned with institutional orders: the profession and community, respectively. While a few HPESU leaders deployed only one logic throughout the course of an interview, many engaged with more than one, compartmentalizing logics specific to different audiences and activities or blending logics to create novel ways of framing their work.


    The institutional logics available in a context vary. What constitutes a compelling legitimacy claim is different from one institutional context to the next. The authors identify strategies that leaders used to position their HPESU for success and discuss the basis on which these claims are made.

publication date

  • December 2019