The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been the subject of several academic contributions, but in the health sector the development of an interest in this subject is very recent. Although many practices in healthcare are already socially responsible, progressing from a series of socially responsible behaviours to a socially responsible organization entails a more consolidated awareness of the health sector’s mission and the needs of its participants. In this paper, we will review the different studies published that address the relationship between the healthcare sector’s corporate responsibility and society, with the aims of individuating the prevailing foci that are emerging and categorizing the proposed contributions according to these foci: social responsibility and organization; social responsibility and social impact; social responsibility and competitiveness. Finally, the paper finishes with a personal definition of CSR and its correlated ethical roots.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
A study edited by “Sole 24 ore sanità”(31 maggio 2011) entitled “in corsia più infezioni e meno sicurezza” shows that infections in hospitals are more frequent than at home […] a result which demonstrates that a clinical environment is less wealthy than a domestic one.
Werhane (2000, pp. 169–181) “Stakeholder theory assumes that the organization and all its stakeholders form a shared moral community, and it appeals to moral minimums or principles of fairness when evaluating organizational decisions” Business Ethics, Stakeholder Theory and the Ethics of Healthcare Organizations.
The New Contractualism approach considers that legitimacy, the justice or the foundation of the institutions, is derived from an agreement by the individuals who are subjected to it. (Bompiani philosophical encyclopaedia).
Abela, A. V. (2001). Profit and more: Catholic social teaching and the purpose of the firm. Journal of Business Ethics, 31(2), 107–116.
Argandoña, A. (1998). The stakeholders theory and the common good. Journal of Business Ethics, 17, 1093–1102.
Austin, W. (2012). Moral distress and the contemporary plight of health professionals. HEC Forum, 24(1), 27–38. PubMed PMID: 2244 1996.
Backman, J. (Ed.). (1975). Social responsibility and accountability. New York: New York University Press.
Borgonovi, E. (2005). La responsabilità sociale in sanità. Mecosan n., 56, 3–9.
Brandão, C., Rego, G., Duarte, I., & Nunes, R. (2012). Social responsibility: A new paradigm of hospital governance? Healthcare Analysis, 21(4), 390–402.
Bull, C., & Adam, A. (2011). Virtue ethics and customer relationship management: towards a more holistic approach for the development of ‘best practice’. European Review: A Business Ethics,. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8608.2011.01613.
Callahan, D. (1998). La medicina impossibile Baldini & Castoldi.
Capra, F. (2007). Life and leadership: A systems approach (Executive summary). Retrieved December 21, 2007, from http://www.fritjofcapra.net/seminars.html.
Carroll, A. B. (1991). The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: Toward the moral management of organizational stakeholders. Business Horizons, 34, 39–48.
Cavicchi, I. (2000). La Medicina della scelta Bollati Boringhieri.
Cavicchi, I. (2007). Autonomia e Responsabilità ed. Dedalo p. 164.
Cavicchi, I. (2010). Medicina e Sanità: Snodi Cruciali ed. Dedalo pp. 331–332.
Civaner, M., & Arda, B. (2008). Do patients have responsibilities in a free-market system? A personal perspective. Nursing Ethics, 15(2), 263–273.
Collins, SK. (2010) Corporate social responsibility and the future healthcare manager. Healthcare Management (Frederick); 29(4):339–345. Erratum in: Healthcare Management (Frederick). 2011 Jan-Mar; 30(1):91. PubMed PMID: 21045586.
Costa, Ericka, & Ramus, Tommaso. (2012). The Italian Economia Aziendale and catholic social teaching: How to apply the common good principle at the managerial level. Journal of Business Ethics, 106(1), 103–116.
Curran, C. R., & Totten, M. K. (2011). Governing for improved quality and patient safety. Nursing economic, 29(1), 38–41.
Dawsonn, D. (2009). Conflicting stories of virtue in UK healthcare: Bringing together organisational studies and ethics’. Business Ethics: A European Review, 18(2), 94–108.
del Pilar Camargo Plazas, M. (2009). Mapping chronic illness in the age of globalization: reclaiming the good for the chronically ill. ANS Advances in Nursing Science, 32(2), E30–E41. Review. PubMed PMID: 19461220.
Department of Health Equity and Excellence (2010): Liberating the NHS.
Department of Health and Social Care. (2009). Act 2008 Code of practice for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections. London: DoH.
Dobkin, P. L., & Boothroyd, L. J. (2008). Organizing health services for patients with chronic pain: when there is a will there is a way. Pain Medicine, 9(7), 881–889. PMID: 18950443.
Domenec, Melé. (2009). Integrating personalism into virtue-based business ethics: The personalist and the common good principles. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(1), 227–244.
Drucker, P. F. (1974). Management: Tasks, responsibilities, practices’. New York: Harper Row.
Druker, (1989). The new reality. New York: Harper & Row.
Duerden, B. I. (2009). Responsibility for managing healthcare-associated infections: Where does the buck stop? Journal of Hospital Infection, 73, 414–417.
Eeckloo, K., Van Herck, G., Van Hulle, C., & Vleugels, A. (2004). From corporate governance to hospital governance. Authority, transparency and accountability of Belgian non-profit hospitals’ board and management. Health Policy, 68(1), 1–15.
Emanuel, E. J., & Emanuel, L. L. (1996). What is accountability in healthcare? Annals of Internal Medicine, 124, 229.
Fawcett, S., Schultz, J., Watson-Thompson, J., Fox, M., & Bremby, R. (2010). Building multisectoral partnerships for population health and health equity. Preventing chronic disease, 7(6), A118. Epub 2010 Oct 15.
Fleet, L. J., Kirby, F., Cutler, S., Dunikowski, L., Nasmith, L., & Shaughnessy, R. (2008). Continuing professional development and social accountability: A review of the literature. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 22(Suppl 1), 15–29.
Frederick, W. C. (1960). The growing concern over business responsibility. California Management Review, 2, 54–61.
Friedman, M. (1970). The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. New York Times Magazine, 1, 122–126.
Galvin, R. S. (2010). Thinking clearly about payment reform. The American Journal of Managed Care, 16(2), 89–91.
Giblin, M. J., & Meaney, M. E. (1998). Corporate compliance is not enough. Catholic healthcare organizations should aim at the development of ethical cultures. Health Programme, 79(5), 30–31.
Gorsky, M. (2008). Community involvement in hospital governance in Britain: Evidence from before the national health service. International Journal of Health Services, 38(4), 751–771. Review. PMID: 19069291.
Govier, T. (1997). Social trust and human communities (p. 79). Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Griffiths, P., Renz, A., Hughes, J., & Rafferty, A. M. (2009). Impact of organisation and management factors on infection control in hospitals: A scoping review. Journal of Hospital Infection, 73(1), 1–14. Epub 2009 Jul 31. Review.
Häkkinen, U. (2005). The impact of changes in Finland’s healthcare system. Health Economics, 14(Suppl 1), S101–S118. PMID: 16161191.
Heller, R. F., Heller, T. D., & Pattison, S. (2003a). Putting the public back into public health. Part I. A re-definition of public health. Public Health, 117(1), 62–65.
Heller, R. F., Heller, T. D., & Pattison, S. (2003b). Putting the public health back into public health. Part II. How can public health be accountable to the public? Public Health, 117(1), 66–71. PMID: 22481565.PMID: 22441996.
Hilton, S. R., & Slotnick, H. B. (2005). Proto-professionalism: How professionalisation occurs across the continuum of medical education. Medical Education, 39(1), 58–65.
Houtepen, R., & terMeulen, R. T. (2000). The expectation(s) of solidarity: matters of justice, responsibility and identity in the reconstruction of the healthcare system. Healthcare Analysis, 8(4), 355–376.
Jha, A. K., Perlin, J. B., Kizer, K. W., & Dudley, R. A. (2003). Effect of the transformation of the veterans affairs healthcare system on the quality of care. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(22), 2218–2227.
Jonas, H. (1990). Il principio di responsabiiltà un’etica per la civiltà tecnologica Einaudi.
Kantabutra, S. (2011). Sustainable leadership in a Thai healthcare services provider. Int J Healthcare QualAssur, 24(1), 67–80. PubMed PMID: 21456499.
Kizer, K. W., & Dudley, R. A. (2009). Extreme makeover: Transformation of the veterans healthcare system. Annual Review of Public Health, 30, 313–339.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2007). The leadership challenge (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Lauridsen, S. (2009). Administrative gatekeeping—A third way between unrestricted patient advocacy and bedside rationing. Bioethics, 23(5), 311–320. Epub 2008 Apr 11. Review. PubMed PMID: 18410460.
Levinas, E. (1985). Ethics and Infinity (pp. 85–92). Pitsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.
Lévy, M., Eskew, M., Bernotat, W. H., & Barner, M. (2007). Who owns the long term? Perspectives from global business leaders. Harvard Business Review, 85(7–8), 54–60. PMID: 17642126.
MacIntyre, A. (2001). Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues. Milano: V&P.
Mays, G. P., Smith, S. A., Ingram, R. C., Racster, L. J., & Lamberth, C. D. (2009). Lovely ES. Public health delivery systems: Evidence, uncertainty, and emerging research needs. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 36(3), 256–265. Review. PubMed PMID: 19215851.
Melé, D. (2009). Business ethics in action. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Melé, D. (2011). The firm as a ‘‘Community of Persons’’: A pillar of humanistic business ethos. Journal of Business Ethics,. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-1051-2.
Melé, D. (2012). Management ethics: Placing ethics at the core of good management, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Molinari, C., Morlock, L., Alexander, J., & Lyles, C. A. (1993). Hospital board effectiveness: relationships between governing board composition and hospital financial viability. Health Services Research, 28(3), 358–377.
Moore, S. C., & Hutchison, S. A. (2007). Developing leaders at every level: accountability and empowerment actualized through shared governance. Journal of Nursing Administration, 37(12), 564–568. PMID: 18090520.
Nagamatsu, S., Kami, M., & Nakata, Y. (2009). Healthcare safety committee in Japan: Mandatory accountability reporting system and punishment. Current Opinion in Anesthesiology, 22(2), 199–206.
O’May, F., & Buchan, J. (1999). Shared governance: A literature review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 36, 281–300.
Patel Kiran, C. R., Peter, Spilsbury, & Rashmi, Shukla. (2010). Clinical contributions to addressing the social determinants of health. Clinical Medicine, 10(2), 130–133.
Robertson, J., Walkom, E. J., & Henry, D. A. (2011). Health systems and sustainability: Doctors and consumers differ on threats and solutions. PLoS ONE, 6(4), e19222. PMID: 21556357.
Royal College of Physicians Doctors in society (2005) Medical professionalism in a changing world Report of a Working Party, December.
Sandel, M. (2012). What money can’t buy: The moral limits of markets UK: Penguin Books p. 60.
Scally, G., & Donaldson, L. J. (1998). Clinical governance and the drive for quality improvement in the new NHS in England. BMJ, 317(7150), 61–65.
Schneider, B. (1980). The service organization: Climate is crucial. Organizational Dynamics, 9, 52–65.
Silver, G. (1987). Institutional Ethics. The Lancet, 330, 1014–1015.
Simmons H E (1984) Corporate responsibility and healthcare from a corporate perspective. National Forum on Hospital and Health Affairs:95–104. PMID: 10288054
Sison, A. (2007). Toward a common good theory of the firm: The Tasubinsa case. Journal of Business Ethics, 74(4), 471–480.
Skouloudis, A., Evangelinos, K., Nikolaou, I., & Filho, W. L. (2011). An overview of corporate social responsibility in Greece: Perceptions, developments and barriers to overcome. Business Ethics: A European Review, 20, 205–226. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8608.2011.01619.
Spencer, E., Mills, A., Rorty, M., & Werhane, P. (1999). Organization ethics for healthcare. New York: Oxford University Press.
Steinbrook, R. (2006). Imposing personal responsibility for health. New England Journal of Medicine, 355(8), 753–756. PMID: 16928991.
Steiner, G. A. (1971). Business and society. New York: Random House.
Studdert, D. M., Mello, M. M., Sage, W. M., et al. (2005). Defensive medicine among high-risk specialist physicians in a volatile malpractice environment. JAMA, 293, 2609–2617.
Thomas Aquinas De regimine principum Book I, C. 15, n. 817.
Tuohey, J. F. (1998). Covenant model of corporate compliance. “Corporate integrity” program meets mission, not just legal, requirements. Health Programme, 79(4), 70–75.
Unger, F. (2012). Health is wealth: considerations to european healthcare. Prilozi, 33(1), 9–14. PubMed PMID: 22952091.
Vallance, E. (1996). FOCUS: Ethics in business and health. Business Ethics: A European Review, 5, 202–206. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8608.1996.tb00161.
Werhane, P. H. (2000). Business ethics stakeholder theory, and the ethics of healthcare organizations. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 9, 169–181.
Wilmot, S. (2000). Corporate moral responsibility in healthcare Medicine. Healthcare and Philosophy, 3(139–146), 2000.
Wirtenberg, J., Russell, W. G., & Lipsky, D. (Eds.). (2009). The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook: When it All Comes Together. New York: Greenleaf/AMACOM.
Zadek, S. (2004). The path to corporate responsibility. Harvard Business Review, 82(12), 125–132. PMID: 15605571.
Zamagni, S. (2004). L’ancoraggio etico della responsabilità sociale d’impresa e la critica alla rsi, WorkingPaper, AICCON, n°1 p. 11.
Zappa, G. (1927). Tendenze nuove negli studi di ragioneria. Opening Speech of the Academic Year 1926–1927 University of Venice.
Zappa, G. (1956). Le produzioni nell’economia delle imprese. Milano: Tomo primo Dott. A. Giuffre` Editore.
The author would like to thank Prof. R. Alvira, Prof. A. Argandoña and Prof. S. Bavetta for their helpful and constructive comments.
About this article
Cite this article
Russo, F. What is the CSR’s Focus in Healthcare?. J Bus Ethics 134, 323–334 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-014-2430-2
- Corporate social responsibility
- Local community
- Social impact