Keywords: healthcare management, healthcare organisations, conformity, informing strategy, institutional theory, institutions, organisational legitimacy, moral legitimacy, signalling
Using an informing strategy to manage moral legitimacy in healthcare organisations
Healthcare organisations operating within highly institutionalised environments are exposed to very intense isomorphic pressures. These institutional pressures help determine organisational success and survival through the recognition and distribution of legitimacy, which is generally gained through conformity. Moral legitimacy, defined as the ethical judgments made about an organisation's activities, is of particular importance in the healthcare field. Following previous literature that argues that compliance may be an explicit strategic response to institutional processes, this paper develops and discusses a new related strategy for managing organisational moral legitimacy; it is labelled informing. Informing is used to signal allegiance to the institution and enhance organisational moral legitimacy. Building on institutional theory research, we develop key propositional statements regarding the informing strategy and its relationship to moral legitimacy, which is inherently important to all types of healthcare organisations and warrants further study. The informing strategy is then exemplified through several specific tactics that differ in their influence on the moral legitimacy along with other types of organisational legitimacy, although we demonstrate that its main utility lies in its ability to impact moral legitimacy.