Maria Fregidou Malama
University of Gävle, Sweden
Maria Fregidou-Malama is assistant professor of organization and marketing at the Faculty of Education and Economic Studies, Department of Business and Economic Studies, University of Gävle, Sweden. She is head of international teacher and student exchange program at the department and has served as guest professor in universities in Europe, South Africa and Asia. She is board member of Research Committee on Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management RC10 and of Research Committee on Sociotechnics - Sociological Practice RC26, of the International Sociological Association (ISA). She is currently engaged in research in the field of internationalisation of health services, leadership and gender, cooperative and social enterprises, corporate social responsibility and impact of cultural differences on foreign establishments.
The purpose of this research is to investigate how culture has impacts on international marketing strategy of a Swedish health service in India, a culturally distant country to Sweden. It is examined how confidence in the market is achieved to establish and maintain trust and relationships, and the level of standardization and adaptation for the acceptance of the service in a foreign market is suggested. A case study was conducted in its real life context. An inductive qualitative research method has been applied and data has been collected in the form of semi-structured interviews, direct observation and company documents. We found that the cultural dimensions of power distance and individualism/collectivism have an impact on trust development, relationships and standardization and adaptation. The study shows that innovative image of the service offering and after-service maintenance act as means for competition in the private and public market. Standardization of prices and service processes comprising maintenance of service quality, support and service contracts develop commitment and trust. Personal relationships with the government, doctors and close connections with the customers are regarded important for adaptation in the local environment. It is further demonstrated that moral and emotional concerns, respect to the human face, hierarchy and social responsibility for regional development are required to develop relationships, trust and networks. It is argued that word of mouth, tactics and diplomacy sustain the possibility of success for service providers and the acceptance of the health service by local customers. The research contributes to international services marketing literature by developing a model and extending understanding of internationalization of health services marketing from a cultural context. For future study, it is suggests a comparison between more culturally distant countries to observe how culture influences development of marketing strategy in international business. The research shows how managers can establish relationships and networks to gain trust and legitimacy in the local market.