The NHS Confederation has launched an inquiry into primary care in an effort to persuade ministers to invest more in management resources.
Former Great Ormond Street chief executive Robert Creighton and former Salford Community trust chief executive Kate Abendstern will work on the project, with support from David Wilkin of Manchester University's national primary care research and development centre.
The confederation, which this week said it had 100 primary care trust members of the 164 trusts up and running so far, will look at expectations of PCTs, the nature of commissioning, performance management, the balance between managers and clinicians, and management resourcing issues.
It says PCT management needs investment 'in terms of numbers of staff, skills and infrastructure'.
Policy director Nigel Edwards said: 'We will be working with our PCT members, looking at what we feel is a major divergence between what PCTs are expected to achieve and the management resources available. '
The results would be put to ministers and the NHS Leadership Centre and will feed into the confederation's input into the design of the new strategic health authorities, Mr Edwards said.