Masters Thesis: Corporate Health Diplomacy


This study proposes a new type of diplomacy to better describe the role of pharmaceutical companies in global health and their individual charitable efforts conducted to meet the dual goals of improving global health and obtaining business objectives. This study is significant because it offers a conceptualization of a new type of diplomacy that advances the field through the use of international pubic relations theory, thus better describing the state of diplomacy and offering academics new avenues of scholarly exploration.  In addition, practitioners can utilize the concept to create mutually beneficial relationships with strategic publics, thereby improving global public health. This new type of diplomacy is called corporate health diplomacy (CHD) and is more complex than pharmaceutical companies’ participation in health diplomacy or their own corporate diplomacy. Health diplomacy aims to improve global health and strengthen international relations through government-to-government (G2G) communication. Corporate diplomacy aims to increase the power and legitimacy of a company abroad through people-to-people (P2P) communication. CHD aims to achieve both of these goals through P2P communication. Different types of CHD efforts include the creation of educational programs for patients, contribution to research and development of new drugs, medical training, and sharing intellectual property to fight diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis (TB).  This study conducted a qualitative content analysis of the annual and corporate responsibility reports published on the web sites of ten pharmaceutical companies to review the corporate social responsibility (CSR) and CHD efforts conducted by each company.  It also examined how the global, glocal and cultural approaches to international public relations apply to CHD to uncover a potential area for future public relations research and establish best practices.

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CRyan Thesis: Corporate Health Diplomacy