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Paper info: Health Services Marketing in a Cross-Cultural Environment: Gamma Knife in Brazil


Health Services Marketing in a Cross-Cultural Environment: Gamma Knife in Brazil


Akmal Hyder and Maria Fregidou-Malama

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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Purpose of the paper
This research deals with the Internationalization of health services focusing on two services characteristics intangibility and heterogeneity. The study analyzes how adaptation/standardization, trust and network development are achieved when marketing a Swedish health care service in Brazil, a culturally distant country to Sweden.
Literature addressed
The theoretical framework of the study is based on theories on International Marketing Services, trust, networks and cultural differences. Adaptation/standardization is important when operating in a foreign market for acceptance of services, creating confidence in the foreign market and establishing contacts with the local environment. Networks are needed to get information and gain access to resources the firms need to run their activities. By creating trust long term business relationships can be developed. Using trust and networks can service providers communicate with customers and understand and satisfy their needs.
Research Method
We apply a case study for data collection. A case on a Swedish invention for radio surgery, Gamma Knife in Brazil has been conducted in its real life context. Qualitative data have been collected in form of semi-structured interviews. Direct observation of the working environment and activities in Sweden has also been used as data source. We concentrate on the process of the marketing of the service.
Research Findings
The study shows that cultural adaptation makes service characteristics tangible by increasing the understanding between service providers and local customers. It suggests that foreign company‟s service offerings, values and beliefs connected to the quality of the service are to be standardised. This standardisation communicates the offering both of a treatment and also of a learning process and helps the service to be visible and tangible. It further demonstrates that relationships related to the local market are to be adapted to customers´ tastes, habits and preferences to develop trust and networks. The study suggest that a balanced combination of adaptation and standardisation makes services homogenous and tangible increasing the possibility of success for service providers and the acceptance of services by the local customers.
Main contribution
The research contributes to the International services marketing literature developing a model of internationalization of health services marketing based on adaptation/standardization, trust and network, to overcome issues of intangibility and heterogeneity of services. Managers should recognize that marketing people-processing services requires development of local networks to gain trust, and legitimacy in the local market.
Keywords: Cultural Adaptation, Network, Intangibility, Heterogeneity, Trust, Gamma Knife, Health Service, Brazil.