Learning from Complaints: the benefits to organisations of listening to uncomfortable truths

Hosted by LSE Works: Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science

Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House,


Dr Alex Gillespie

Dr Alex Gillespie

Dr Tom Reader

Dr Tom Reader

Krysta Broughton-Munford


Chandru Dissanayeke



Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch

Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch

Public services such as healthcare receive large volumes of complaints. Traditionally these have been seen as something to manage or even hide.  However, from a social psychological standpoint, listening to complaints can potentially provide independent, practical, and unique insights. This lecture reports evidence using the Healthcare Complaints Analysis Tool, which is the first reliable tool for systematically analyzing and benchmarking the severity of complaints received by hospitals. It shows that complaints from patients and families highlight systemic problems in the provision of healthcare and are associated with hospital-level mortality rates. This evidence supports the idea that complaints have high validity and can be used both as an early warning system for identifying systemic institutional failures, and as a catalyst for organisational learning.

Alex Gillespie is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research focuses on communication, divergences of perspective, misunderstandings and listening.

Tom Reader is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research examines the relationship between organisational culture and safety management in high-risk organisations. 

Krysta Broughton-Munford is Clinical Governance Lead at Bupa Global Market Unit.

Chandru Dissanayeke is Deputy Director at the Cabinet Office. 

Sandra Jovchelovitch is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE where she directs the MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology. Her book on Underground Sociabilities: Identity, culture and resistance in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro informs the LSE-UNESCO toolkit on bottom-up social development, which was launched for a global audience at HABITAT III in Quito, Ecuador. She currently directs an ESRC-funded multiple stakeholder research partnership studying resilience and porosity of city borders in Brazilian cities. A new edition of ‘Knowledge in Context: Representation, community and culture’ is coming out with Routledge Classics in 2017.

The Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science (PBS) (@PsychologyLSE) is a hub for more than 50 psychological and behavioural teachers and researchers in other disciplines across the LSE as well as a cutting-edge centre of expertise in its own right. The department is committed to building a diverse group of psychological and behavioural researchers whose collective expertise ranges ‘from the field to the lab and back’, conducting and disseminating research which makes a significant contribution to tackling the social problems of the day.

LSE Works is a series of public lectures, that will showcase some of the latest research by LSE's academic departments and research centres. In each session, LSE academics will present key research findings, demonstrating where appropriate the implications of their studies for public policy. A list of all the LSE Works lectures can be viewed at LSE Works.

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