Concepts of Employer Branding
Employer branding is a relatively new field in research and management. Scientific literature on the topic is still scarce whereas quite a few management handbookshave evolved in recent years (cf. Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004; Edwards, 2010; Sutherlandet al., 2002). Employer branding and its related concepts, such as employer attractiveness, are characterized by a lack of structure and some confusion with regard to definitions and termini (Sponheuer, 2009). One reason is the plurality of research fields involved, including the different perspectives from which the topic is being approached. The research streams of organizational identity, corporate reputation, organizational image, corporate culture, corporate branding and corporate communications provide a lot of related concepts and definitions which are relevant to employer branding (Balmer & Greyser, 2003, 2006). Especially corporate reputation and organizational image have to be considered when approaching the topics of employer branding and employer attractiveness. These concepts will therefore be discussed in more detail in Sections and . To complete the discussion of the core concepts of employer branding, functions and objectives will be outlined in Sections and respectively. Before turning to each concept in detail, the development and definitional background of employer branding as well as the integration into the organizational architecture should be outlined at this point.
The authors Ambler and Barrow (1996) claim having been the first to unite the disciplines of HR-management and brand management in order to create a conceptual framework which they call the ‘employer brand’.3 They describe it as “[…] the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment, and identified with the employing company” (Ambler & Barrow, 1996, p.187). Barrow also claims having written the first book on employer branding, in which he and his coauthor describe the development of the concept (Barrow & Mosley, 2005). While the employer brand can be regarded as the final outcome of all brand-related activities, employer branding can be described as the process to reach this outcome. Thus, employer branding includes all decisions concerning the planning, creation, management and controlling of employer brands and the corresponding activities to positively influence the employer preferences of the desired target groups (Petkovic, 2009). In a conceptual paper, Backhaus and Tikoo (2004, p. 502) summarize em-ployer branding as “ the process of building an identifiable and unique employer identity” and the employer brand as “ a concept of the firm that differentiates it from its competitors.” Despite various definitions and differing approaches to employer branding, there is common agreement on the fact that employer branding includes selected concepts from brand management which are transferred to HR management and recruitment (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004; Cable & Turban, 2003). According to Branham (2000, p.18), employer branding is “applying traditional marketing principles to achieving the status of Employer of Choice4 , the process of placing an image of being a great place to work in the mind of the targeted candidate pool.” This image of being a great place to work is generally referred to as employer image.5 The term is often used interchangeably with the concept of employer attractiveness in scientific and practitioner literature. Therefore, both terms will be discussed in more detail in the next section. From an organizational architecture point of view, employer branding is generally situatedbetween marketing and HR management. Ideally, both functions should cooperate in the development and implementation of an employer branding strategy (Edwards, 2010). When classifying HR management according to levels into strategic, tactical and operational management, employer branding can be attributed to the category of...
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