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Advertising Campaign and Organizational Identification in Health Care Organizations

Today, managed care, which developed from the need to reduce medical costs, has spawned new concerns about the quality of care Americans will receive from health care organizations. The challenge to provide patients with excellent and affordable health care is a challenge worthy of health care professionals' best efforts.

Facing the challenge, health care organizations may have difficulties in maintaining a clearly defined identity as other service organizations in terms of its complexity and unique physician-organizational relationship. In addition, given the recent struggles of policy makers in the United States to reform the U.S. health care system to balance issues of quality, access, and cost, understanding and managing organizational identity well has ever-increasing practical relevance. This relevance is especially clear given that any restructuring of health care will certainly have unanticipated consequences for the day-to-day provision and management of care. In this case, health care managers are increasingly aware that organizational identification influence key outcomes at work, including effort, cooperation, organizational support, and citizenship behaviors.

Existing research concludes that external communication aiming to build perceived external prestige for the organization helps to foster organizational identification. As an important form of external communication in organizations, advertising campaign is increasingly being used both externally and internally to influence health care consumers and stakeholders today. Besides sending messages externally to the public, advertising is also utilized by health care organizations as a self-enhancing tool to enhance their own values.

I've been working on a research project with my advisor for the past academic year on the possible effects of advertising campaigns on employees' organization identification in health care organizations. Through interview-based qualitative method, my project looked at employees' perceptions of advertising campaigns in a health care organization locally in Albany, and how their perceptions suggest that advertising campaigns can help to promote their identification with the organization. Analysis on the interview data found that the advertising campaigns in the health care organization does affect employees' sense of identification with it. Interestingly, some findings in the employees' evaluation of the campaigns are beyond my expectation. I was delighted to see that both health care professionals and non health care professional identify not only with the whole organization, but also with multiple targets such as their professional medical specialty as well as their work unit in the hospital.

However, due to strategy of recruitment, all of the interviewees in my sample are directly employed by the organization. As the problem of competing identifications to multiple identities becomes a challenge for health care organizations to promote employees' organization identification, future research may examine whether forms of external communication may affect health care providers' organization identification while they are having multiple identities, such as professional and organizational identities.

Sunny Zhao
2011 CCRC Doctoral Fellow
Department of Communication, University at Albany, State University of New York

Written by CCRC at 12:59

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