Responding to the market : a study of international secondary schools in Hong Kong
The increased competition associated with market forces, which are increasingly evident in secondary school provision, has led to the use of marketing activities in schools and a proliferation of studies into school marketing. This thesis explores the Hong Kong international secondary school market with the aim to analyse the nature and value of the marketing activities of international secondary schools in Hong Kong. The research explores the nature of the market, the marketing activities of schools, and the cultural and socio-economic characteristics of parents of potential pupils. It also investigates school choice factors and identifies sources of information used in the school choice process. This research uses a specific model of relationship management outline by Barnes (2001) and adapts this model to the education context in order to develop a conceptual framework matrix as a tool for analysis. This matrix is used to present the research data and provides a framework for a cross-cage analysis of the findings. The matrix enables a logical construction upon which to draw conclusions about the marketing approaches observed within these schools. The study reveals that, although academic factors were deemed to be highly influential when selecting schools, emotional factors such as pupil happiness were also significant. It also shows that visits to schools and the 'grapevine' were most important as information sources during the selection process. The data suggested that emotions often associated with positive relationships, such as mutual trust and understanding, play an important role in mediating school choice. The research strongly indicates that, where school selection is becoming a more democratic process, school marketing must reflect this by recognizing the value of positive relationships with stake-holders. Where school managers appreciate the need to engage in dialogue which nurtures trust and understanding, then their schools are more likely to recruit and retain pupils. These schools also reap the rewards of personal recommendations to other parents seeking schools for their own children. For these reasons a philosophy in which relationship management forms the basis of a school marketing approach is advised.