Integrating public affairs information strategy with organizational practices in healthcare delivery organizations

Published date01 November 2018
Date01 November 2018
Integrating public affairs information strategy with
organizational practices in healthcare delivery organizations
Brian S. Vamstad |Mark Gordon
School of Public Policy and Administration,
Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Brian S. Vamstad, School of Public Policy and
Administration, Walden University, 100
Washington Avenue South, Suite 900,
Minneapolis, MN 55401, USA.
To develop and implement policy, lawmakers rely on the input from external experts
and stakeholders. Public affairs professionals are responsible for monitoring the socio-
political environment and responding to public policy proposals on behalf of firms and
organizations. However, how public affairs operate intraorganizationally and develop
information strategies is not clear nor consistent in the literature. The purpose was to
explore how public affairs engage with internal stakeholders to leverage their knowl-
edge for information strategies in responding to policymakers. Knowledge transfer
served as a theoretical framework through a qualitative multiple case study of 3
notforprofit healthcare delivery organizations. Primary data were collected using
semistructured interviews from public affairs (n= 11) and healthcare professionals
(n= 18) along with a review of organizational documents and public records. Patterns
and themes emerged through crosscase synthesis, presented as a processbased
model and theory. Public affairs structures and decisionmaking processes varied
across cases indicating no coherent approach by practitioners. Intraorganizational
engagement and knowledge transfer processes were managed both consistently and
ad hoc, through informal and formal methods. Practitioner strategies and tactics were
identified to facilitate internal interaction such as filtering policy issues and effective
communication methods. Common institutional barriers were identified that made
stakeholder engagement a challenge. This study provides insight into understanding
how public affairs practice internally and supports the fundamental importance of
linking knowledge into public policymaking.
Public affairs (PA) professionals are often responsible for monitoring
and influencing public policy on behalf of firms (Baysinger &
Woodman, 1982; Davidson, 2014). A common strategy employed by
PA throughout contemporary history are information products, includ-
ing expert testimony, lobbying, comment letters, data, research, and
position papers (Aplin & Hegarty, 1980; Baron, 1999; Barron, 2013;
Bigelow, Arndt, & Stone, 1997; Birnbaum, 1985; Bouwen, 2002;
Dahan, 2005; Fleisher, 2000; Getz, 2002; Hillman & Hitt, 1999; Lord,
2000; Schuler, Rehbein, & Cramer, 2002; Taminiau & Wilts, 2006).
Organizations that supply quality, relevant information, and
knowledge to decisionmakers are influential in the policymaking
process (Fleisher, 2012; Van Damme, Brans, & Fobė, 2011).
Limited scholarship exists on intrafirm structures and processes of
PA and political activities (Baron, 1995; Baron, 1999; Bhambri &
Sonnenfeld, 1988; Bigelow et al., 1997; Schuler & Rehbein, 1997;
Sonnenfeld, 1984; Taminiau & Wilts, 2006). Although PA needs to
be internally well structured, consensus lacks on an ideal design
(Boddewyn, 2012; Griffin & Dunn, 2004; McGrath, Moss, & Harris,
2010). Furthermore, PA intraorganizational information distribution
and decisionmaking are not adequately understood, and research is
needed on PA strategies in different sectors and internal structures
(Boddewyn, 2012; Skippari, 2005). Finally, very limited scholarship
exists related to PA activities in the U.S. healthcare sector.
The purpose of this multiple case study was to collect qualitative
data from PA and nonpublic affairs (NPA) professionals to gain an
understanding of how PA develop information strategies. Using
Received: 25 November 2017 Revised: 29 March 2018 Accepted: 3 April 2018
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1828
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1828.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, 1of10

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT