Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility in Healthcare Through Digital and Traditional Tools: A Two-Country Analysis

Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility in Healthcare Through Digital and Traditional Tools: A Two-Country Analysis

Gianpaolo Tomaselli, Lalit Garg, Vipul Gupta, Peter A. Xuereb, Sandra C. Buttigieg, Paula Vassallo
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1786-4.ch007
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Health systems are currently facing a series of challenges dealing with continuous technology advances and social demands, which require changes at managerial and policy level that fully incorporate social responsibilities within healthcare organizations' strategy. Thus, communicating corporate social responsibility (CSR) takes an important role in today's health contexts worldwide. This work aims to investigate CSR communication in healthcare through the use of both traditional and interactive technologies by adopting a mixed qualitative-quantitative research approach. To this extent, a comparative research was conducted in two different countries with different health systems and contexts, namely Malta and India. Findings show that healthcare organisations of both countries are increasing their awareness towards their social responsibilities and the different ways of communicating their CSR activities. A mixed strategy—including both digital (interactive technologies) and traditional tools—was identified as the most effective way of communicating CSR in a healthcare context.
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The rising interest on the social and environmental side of corporations has recently shifted attention towards the communication of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and, has increasingly focused on the tools adopted to communicate these activities to stakeholders (Chaudhri & Wang, 2007).

CSR is a complex subject and is the result of long-existing concepts, consisting of numerous and contrasting theories, as well as individual interpretations (Collins, 2010). However, it is possible to summarize CSR as responsibilities of enterprises that go beyond the mere economic aspect of maximizing profits. These responsibilities should be directed towards society, environment and different stakeholders (Carroll, 1999; Davis, 1992; Hart, 1997; Shamir, 2005).

Healthcare organizations’ interest towards CSR is relatively recent (Russo, 2016). The health care sector has not received systematic attention to CSR, despite its critical importance worldwide (Collins, 2010; Tomaselli et al., 2018). Indeed, there is scant literature in the field of CSR communication in health care, and scarce literature that deals with the use of interactive technologies for CSR communication in the health care context. Even though CSR should interest organizations across all sectors, CSR is crucial to the health care sector, which is facing challenges, namely rapid technological advances as well as financial, economic and sustainability pressures. Over the last few years, health care organizations have been under severe public scrutiny and this pressure has led to an increase in consciousness and conscientiousness of CSR-related issues (Collins, 2010). Moreover, they are required to provide high clinical quality, a high level of functional quality and cost-effective patient care with the limited resources that they are allocated (Fottler & Blair, 2002). To achieve this level of awareness, the health care sector is paying increasing attention to the different methods of CSR communication and, particularly, on the use of technologies to communicate on their CSR activities. In this regard, the interactive technologies are being popularly used in the health care sector for communicating CSR activities. Today health care organizations have different choices and tools to communicate their CSR activities. The use of traditional means of CSR communication (social, sustainability and integrated reports, codes of ethics, certification standards, etc.) is often complemented by the implementation of interactive communication technologies (internet, web sites, social media, social networks, mobile apps, etc.), which have been gaining ground year after year. The importance of communicating CSR lies in the fact that it may influence leaders and public opinions, as well as their behavior (Tomaselli & Melia, 2014). According to Watts and Holme (1999), public opinion does not trust organizations whose efforts are not directed in observing CSR-related issues. Moreover, public opinion has an important role in regulating healthcare organizations behaviors (Esrock & Leichty 1998). Thus, CSR communication has a key role in influencing stakeholders’ relations (Arvidsson, 2009) and helps organizations to increase their image, reputation and credibility (Dawkins, 2004; Hooghiemstra, 2000; Chaudhri & Wang, 2007).

In this context, the research presented in this chapter aims to: i) analyse CSR communication in the healthcare context; ii) investigate the use of both traditional and interactive technologies for healthcare CSR communication (as well as differences and similarities); and iii) compare CSR communication between two countries with extremely different contexts, Malta and India. We adopted quantitative methodology in order to understand the different perception and applications of CSR commutation between the two contexts analysed. By doing do, this work may provide a contribution to the development of novel theories and applications of global information resource management.

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