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Title: Structure and agency in the 'Brand Box' : a self-ethnography of university branding
Author: Forbes, Jeannie Harris
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 7522
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis uses an in-depth case study of an English university's brand to examine the utility of Martin Kornberger's account of branding. It argues that structuration theory powerfully explains both the relationships between Kornberger's four main categories of branding theory, and the relationships within the empirical evidence presented in the thesis. Using self-ethnography, the thesis reports on an extensive set of semi-structured interviews with 33 participants at the University of Exeter which generated over 600 pages of rich qualitative data, and looks at how the Institution has sought to position itself in the emerging higher education market since the mid-1990s. The thesis offers a summary of the major developments in higher education in England, focussing on the creation of a more marketized sector, and noting the emergence of both the commodification of HE and the rise of the student-as-consumer. It undertakes an extensive review of the theoretical literature on branding, using Kornberger's 2010 book Brand Society to organise the discussion into the four quadrants of his brand box, which in turn becomes the organising principle used to structure the discussion of the empirical material. The thesis concludes by drawing out the main empirical findings from the data, and then turns to examine the utility of Kornberger's account of branding, thus constituting the first detailed use of his work in an empirical setting; it finds that his account is predominantly an agency-based one, as distinct from a structure-based . account. The thesis points out the power of structure-based accounts of branding, and how the two accounts interact, which has important implications not only with regards to the specific case study examined in the thesis, but for branding theory more generally. Specifically, Giddens' theory of structuration is used to resolve the tension between the agency-based and the structure-based accounts of branding advanced in Kornberger's brand box. Finally, the thesis looks at the implications of the forthcoming major changes in the English HE environment and what this implies for the role of branding in higher education.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available