Management Control Systems

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Captivating company: dimensions of attractiveness in employer branding Pierre Berthon
Bentley College

Michael Ewing
Monash University

Li Lian Hah
MPH, Malaysia

The internal marketing concept specifies that an organisation’s employees are its first market. Themes such as ‘internal advertising’ and ‘internal branding’ have recently entered the marketing lexicon. One component of internal marketing that is still underdeveloped is ‘employer branding’ and specifically ‘employer attractiveness’. Employer attractiveness is defined as the envisioned benefits that a potential employee sees in working for a specific organisation. It constitutes an important concept in knowledgeintensive contexts where attracting employees with superior skills and knowledge comprises a primary source of competitive advantage. In this paper, we identify and operationalise the components of employer attractiveness from the perspective of potential employees. Specifically we develop a scale for the measurement of employer attractiveness. Implications of the research are discussed, limitations noted and future research directions suggested.

Introduction
Until fairly recently, customers were seen to be only those external to the organisation. Indeed, many managers would argue that externally oriented marketing is difficult enough without introducing the notion of ‘internal customers’ (Ewing & Caruana 1999). The internal marketing concept argues that the organisation’s personnel are the first market of any company (George & Gronroos 1989; George 1990), the rationale being that International Journal of Advertising, 24(2), pp. 151–172 © 2005 Advertising Association Published by the World Advertising Research Center, www.warc.com

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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING, 2005, 24(2)

employees are internal customers and jobs are internal products. Job products must attract, develop and motivate employees, thereby satisfying the needs and wants of these internal customers, while addressing the overall objectives of the organisation (Berry & Parasuraman 1991). In fact, Kotler (1994) defines internal marketing as ‘the task of successfully hiring, training and motivating able employees to serve the customer well’. The present study is concerned primarily with the successful ‘hiring of employees’ in Kotler’s (1994) definition. It examines how astute employers can embrace the principles and practices associated with external brand management and marketing communication, internally. In other words, it extends beyond the HRM notion of recruitment advertising (Gatewood et al. 1993) and considers how firms might assess the degree to which they are considered to be ‘employers of choice’ and in the process, attract the highest-calibre employees. It is generally recognised that intellectual and human capital is the foundation of competitive advantage in the modern economy. Accordingly, the contest among employers to attract and retain talented workers takes place in a world where technological advances and global competition are driving widespread change in employment patterns (Osborn-Jones 2001). This paper begins by considering the effect of an organisation’s advertising on its own employees. Next, we broaden the focus to internal branding and employer branding. We then introduce and define the concept of employer attractiveness and develop a reliable and valid scale to assess the construct. Implications of the approach are then considered, limitations noted and future research direction outlined.

Internal advertising
Berry (1981) appears to have been the first to recognise the potential impact of advertising on (current) employees, yet, as Gilly and Wolfinbarger (1998) note, marketers today are still overlooking an important internal or ‘second audience’ for their advertisements: their own employees. They conclude that advertising decision-makers may underestimate the importance of the employee audience for advertisements. Given that...
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