Business and Management INK

Corporate Health Policy: Pioneering a Fresh Avenue of Research

July 3, 2024 291

In this article, Lilia Raquel Rojas-Cruz, Irene Henriques, Bryan Husted reflect on the inspiration behind their research article, “Exploring Public Health Research for Corporate Health Policy: Insights for Business and Society Scholars,in Business & Society.

Our motivation for delving into this research stemmed initially from a few key concerns. First, we recognized a gap in our understanding about how corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives truly impact the people they’re meant to help. Second, there’s been a pervasive focus on profits rather than the social good these initiatives could bring. The inadequacy of this view hinders our understanding of how these programs really work, limiting what management experts can do to create meaningful change for everyone involved. So, we looked to public health research as a way to overcome some of the shortcomings in our own work. This shift in perspective not only sheds light on health outcomes but also addresses broader societal issues such as poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation.

We began by examining the intersection of business and health, which has recently caught the attention of management and public health researchers. However, there is a gaping chasm between these two areas of study. While public health experts have looked into how businesses impact health, management research has lagged in exploring the impact of such programs on health, both inside and outside the workplace. Our study steps into this gap by examining different methods, theories, and organizations involved in these business-centered health interventions. Before we realized it, we were laying the foundation for a whole new area of research: corporate health policy. This covers everything from the rules, strategies, and practices that organizations can adopt to promote the health and happiness of their employees and stakeholders.

Our findings shed light on how different research methods offer unique insights and challenges in studying health in a business setting. From pricey but reliable corporate social responsibility randomized control trials to more budget-friendly surveys, each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. We also highlight the importance of replication studies, focusing on the intervention itself, rather than just the companies, and being open about negative results – something less common in business studies but valuable learning opportunities as to the effectiveness of interventions and the potential to refine future interventions accordingly.

We’ve also noticed a difference in how theory plays a role in public health versus business and society research. Public health tends to focus on real-world impact rather than theory, while business and society research often builds on existing theories. But there are overlaps too, like exploring the social and corporate determinants of health and using behavioral approaches to nudge people toward healthier choices.

We urge scholars to continue this important work. By proposing evidence-based policies and interventions, we can boost health, productivity, and workplace satisfaction. And by teaming up with public health experts, we can help create a new field of research: corporate health policy.

Irene Henriques (pictured) is a professor of sustainability & economics in Schulich School of Business at York University. Her research interests span economics, stakeholder management, and sustainability and currently serves as the area coordinator for economics. Lilia Raquel Rojas-Cruz is a Ph.D. student in Business Administration at EGADE Business School of the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico. She has research interests in examining sustainable entrepreneurship and the impacts of corporate health initiatives. She is also currently a member of the Research Group in Social Innovation and Sustainability at the Tecnológico de Monterrey. Bryan Husted is a professor and researcher at the EGADE Business School of the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico. He has extensive research and teaching experience in the areas of public policy and business. His academic publications cover various business topics, and he is one of the most prolific authors in the area of business ethics.

View all posts by Irene Henriques, Lilia Raquel Rojas-Cruz, and Bryan Husted

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