University of Oulu

Employer image in the public health care sector : how to attract potential employees?

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Author: Jalkanen, Tiia1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.6 MB)
Pages: 131
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : T. Jalkanen, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-05-22
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Saraniemi, Saila
Reviewer: Oikarinen, Eeva-Liisa
Saraniemi, Saila


Employees are one of the key resources of an organization, emphasizing the role of employer branding. Health care sector is one of the fields in Finland having lack of employees, such as doctors. Therefore, the public health care sector can gain benefits of branding to attract employees. However, employer branding and employer image in the public sector have hardly studied, and even less in the public health care sector. This creates a need for examining the external employer branding in the sector. Hence, this thesis aims to study how potential employees perceive the public health care sector as an employer. Also, the purpose of this thesis is to gain knowledge of which attributes potential applicants consider desirable. Furthermore, the thesis aims to study how the employer brand appears.

The theoretical framework is based on branding in the public sector and external employer branding. The existing literature suggests external employer branding is built on three parts: employer brand associations, employer image, and employer attractiveness. Employer brand associations can be divided into symbolic and functional attributes affecting formulation of employer image. All together the factors have connection to the employer attractiveness. However, researchers also suggest, reputation affects employer attractiveness in addition to employer image in the public sector. Thus, a theoretical model is created based on the theory to study the relationships between the factors.

In order to collect data for empirical analysis, a survey was designed incorporating closed and open questions. The survey was targeted to the medical students in the university of Oulu, receiving 93 responses. To analyse the data, statistical analysis but also qualitative content analysis was used. The results of data analysis showed, the respondents considered tasks, working atmosphere, opportunities for education and development, and opportunities for specialization as desired employer attributes in general. Further, the employer image of the public health care sector is not unambiguous. For instance, the sector was viewed as reliable and stable employer. At the same time, shortage of resources and rush casted a shadow over the employer image of the public health care sector. Moreover, extensive variety between different employers, such as hospital districts and municipals were pointed out, emphasizing the public sector does not have truly unified employer brand.

The thesis provided also theoretical contributions and managerial implications. The theoretical contributions are related mostly to symbolic and functional employer attributes and their categorization, but also to sector branding. As sector branding is rather new concept, definition for sector branding was provided. Moreover, managers of public health care organizations can benefit of the results of this thesis. Especially the organizations that are having lack of doctors can utilize the results in order to start building employer branding activities. Lastly, validity, reliability and generalizability of the study was dealt with, but also limitations of the research and some future research suggestions were discussed.

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Copyright information: © Tiia Jalkanen, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.