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Title: An investigation into the relationships between universities' internal branding, employee brand support and the transformational leadership characteristics of immediate leaders : a study from the perspective of academic staff in Thai universities
Author: Kaewsurin, Narissara
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 6727
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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Internal branding in universities has been acknowledged in marketing literature as an important area of research. In the context of higher education institutions, employees play a crucial role in the branding process. Research within the current spectrum of internal branding indicates some ambiguities surrounding internal branding in higher education. Yet very few studies are available in the field of internal branding within universities to explore employee behaviour in brand support. Accordingly, the objective of this study is to examine, from the academic staff’s perspective, the relationships between internal branding in universities and employee brand support and also the relevant underlying mechanisms (specifically, the mediating effects of internal branding aspects, i.e., 1. brand-centred training and development activities and 2. internal brand communications) in a Thai university context. This study employed a mixed methods approach with a dominant quantitative component, involving semi-structured interviews (with 19 respondents) and a pilot survey (with 95 respondents) to collect data for the development of measurement scales. Afterwards, the main survey (with 347 respondents) was conducted in order to test the research hypotheses and the proposed conceptual model. In addition, information from the semi-structured inteviews is used to explain the relationships found in this study after hypothesis testing. Based on a review of the existing literature in a range of fields (including higher education management, brand management, organisational identity, organisational culture and behaviour, corporate communication, human resource management, marketing management, government policy and leadership), this study proposes a conceptual model of the positive relationships between internal branding activities in universities (internal brand communications and brand-centred training and development activities) and employee brand support. In addition, the transformational leadership characteristics of the immediate leader (idealised influence or charisma; inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration) are also included in the model as determinants of internal branding activities and employee brand support. Brand-centred training and development activities and internal brand communication activities are proposed as mediators of the relationships in the model. The proposed conceptual model is developed on the basis of marketing control theory (Jaworski, 1988) combined with transformational leadership theory (Burns, 1978), social learning theory (Bandura, 1977) and Lewin’s (1947) change theory. From the statistical findings, together with upport from the literature and the in-depth interviews during the exploratory stage, this study finds positive relationships between brand-centred training and development activities, internal brand communication activities, the transformational leadership characteristics of the immediate leaders and employee brand support. However, an unexpected outcome is that the relationship between internal brand communication activities and employee brand support is not significant. This outcome indicates that the brand-centred training and development construct fully mediates the relationship between internal brand communication activities and employee brand support. Therefore, in order to create employee brand support behaviours among academic staff, institutions cannot rely solely on their internal communication activities. This finding highlights a crucial role for brand-centred training and development activities in building employee brand support in the context of higher education. In addition, the study finds that, given transformational leadership characteristics, an immediate leader of academic staff not only affects their brand support behaviour, but also either initiates or influences internal branding activities in the institution, thereby creating employee brand support among academic staff. Therefore, institutions which want to build employee brand support from the academic staff should ensure that the immediate leaders of their academic staff’ should manifest transformational leadership characteristics. Finally, this investigation is expected to be of value in advancing current knowledge about internal branding in universities and also be useful to higher education management and public policy-makers who want to encourage academic staff to support their university’s brand.
Supervisor: Melewar, T. C.; Yen, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Internal branding ; Employee brand support ; Transformational leadership ; Universities branding ; Thai universities