Akron’s Children’s Hospital Replies

What is the management-research question hierarchy for Akron Children’s Hospital?

Akron Children’s Hospital’s management-research question began by looking at the economic situation and the competition surrounding them and the lack of a distinguished brand identity that set it apart from bigger firms. This question then grew to incorporate how parents decided on where to take children that require more than three days of care. This choice and decision drove the management to seek more clarity from how consumers made decisions regarding hospitalization. These emotional decisions were the core of the management -research that Akron asked Marcus to uncover.

The research questions were designed to find the best means to obtain a competitive advantage in a very challenging market. Much like educational institutions these “Intangible assets such as reputation and legitimacy are key factors for competitive differentiation and could help these institutions in their aim to survive and succeed in the market” (Miotto,2019, para. 6). Without properly looking at the right research questions, Akron would be unable to overcome the gaps between them and their competitors.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of an observation study for this research?

As Marcus Thomas focused on their observational study to be as close to the target demographic as possible. By Being inside the hospitals and being able to witness all levels of the operation they were able to get a sense of what the consumers felt and experienced inside Akron’s business. Being as close to the patients and the consumers Our text states that “Observation research, as scientific inquiry, is conducted specifically to answer a research question, must be systemically planned and executed, must use proper controls, and must provide a reliable and valid description of what happened” (Schindler, 2022, p. 155).

A huge advantage of this method is proximity. Being close to the target audience is incredibly important especially as Marcus Thomas was trying to uncover a more qualitative problem rather than just a quantitative concern. As Marcus Thomas concluded “…everything about Akron Children’s—truly focused on kids being kids” (Schindler, 2008, p.2). This was a huge advantage about being so close. Alongside finding ways to find out the purpose and the reactions from consumers, Marcus Thomas could also observe staff contributions towards Akron’s mission. They could find ways that management needed to implement better controls over the staff, or better communication techniques to improve management-staff relations.

However, the disadvantages of this research stem from the observer-participant relationship. Our text points out three areas that need to be considered with this relationship. The first is whether the observation is direct or indirect. Second, whether the observer’s presence is known or unknown to the participant. Finally, what role the observer plays (Schindler, 2022, p. 166). For Akron’s study, Marcus Thomas would need to ensure that as they were directly observing patients, family members, staff, and management this would place them at a disadvantage for genuine responses by all parties.

Another weakness addressed in our text is when indirect observation through concealment is utilized. This form of observation is likened to spying and there is a risk of propriety that must be explored and reviewed. This can also raise ethical concerns surrounding privacy invasion (Schindler, 2022, p. 168). These are several disadvantages toward observational research that Marcus Thomas would have needed to overcome throughout the observational research conducted.

What does the brand promise recommendation reveal about what researchers experienced and concluded from their study?

The brand promise revealed that Akron’s operation fully incorporated the singular fact that Akron is all about the children and the company completely seeks to put its resources into the child’s best interest. This is also what they ultimately concluded from their study. A brand promise can best be understood as to how the brand desires to see and interact with the larger community. “Furthermore, customers interact with brands in ways that closely mirror their social interactions because they think of brands as living things, and consistently assign personality traits to inanimate brand objects” (Gong & Wang, 2021, para. 8). It was for this purpose that Marcus Thomas was working to address the management-research question by creating the brand promise. Through this promise, Akron conveys the message to the community that everything within their operation is unified towards the goal that is based on the child’s best interest.

If you were designing such an observation study, what would you direct researchers to record/look for/listen for?

My direct researchers would look and listen for the children’s perspectives. Marcus Thomas also used this technique and I believe it was a valuable place to start. Parents will do virtually anything for their children and their level of comfort and trust for an institution is the most powerful marketing tool for a parent. If the institution made the child uncomfortable, it would spell not just the loss of that family, but any family that would have been recommended to that institution.

Research has found that “Children, hospital environments provoke a wealth of emotions such as sadness, fear, anger, anxiety, loneliness and homesickness” (Nasab et al., 2019, para. 1). This range of emotions and how children handle them is key to observe and essential for direct observers to take note of and look for. Especially as these emotional responses answer a lot about holes in the operation and training of the staff. These emotional responses can also indicate to management how the environment either aids in lessening negative emotions and evoking positive ones or vice versa. Furthermore, “Evidence shows that different cultures place different emphasis on communication and socialization skills” (Nasab et al., 2019, para. 1). This is necessary for the direct observers would need to look for and consider. Demographic data and the responses from different ethnic groups would aid management in how best to address cultural barriers intentionally or unintentionally created that could become an obstacle for the growth of the hospital in the future.

What ethical issues would surface in-hospital studies in general and this study in particular?

I believe the biggest ethical concern that would surface in-hospital studies would be based on the voice of the child in the study conducted. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1989 “stated that children have the right to express their views and for these views to be given their due weight, following their age and maturity” (McNeilly, 2020, para. 1). Marcus Thomas was seeking to directly observe all levels of the operation and would end up needing to find more than just indirect observations and those pooled from parents.

Secondly, the ethical concerns surrounding indirect observation posed earlier would also surface. Hospital studies would need to focus on ensuring communication for participants included letting them know about the study and the researchers to avoid breaches of privacy.

Biblical Application/Integration

This study reminded me of how we also seek to rebrand ourselves in Christ when we repent and choose to follow Christ. Galatians 2:20 states “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Galatians 2:20). Akron was seeking to create for themselves a new image and find a way that communicate their value to the marketplace. When we submit and repent to Christ we also declare and communicate to the world who is Lord. Knowing your identity and how best to proclaim your identity to others is powerful. This is especially true for us as believers. Knowing our identity is akin to knowing to whom we belong. Psalms tell us to “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Psalm 46:10)! This is profoundly powerful and when companies declare who they are and what they believe and their operations are built around that powerful Why do they end up thriving.



English Standard Version Bible. (2001). ESV Online. https://esv.literalword.com/

Gong, T., & Wang, C. (2021). The effects of a psychological brand contract breach on customers’ dysfunctional behavior toward a brand. Emerald. https://10.1108/JSTP-09-2020-0217

McNeilly, P., Macdonald, G., & Kelly, B. (2020). Ethical considerations when researching with children and young people with disabilities in health and social care. Nurse Researcher, 28(1), 9-15. https://10.7748/nr.2020.e1645

Miotto, G., Del-Castillo-Feito, C., & Blanco-González, A. (2020). Reputation and legitimacy: Key factors for higher education institutions sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Business Research, 112, 342-353. https://https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.11.076

Nasab, S. N., Amir Reza Karimi Azeri, & Mirbazel, S. (2020). Ideal physical features of environmental design in children’s hospital: Using children’s perspectives. Facilities, 39(5/6), 445-466. https://http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/F-03-2019-0032

Schindler, P. S. (2008). Business Research Methods (14th ed.). McGraw Hill, LLC.

Schindler, P. S. (2022). Business Research Methods (14th ed.). McGraw Hill, LLC.