The paper reviews the literature on the concept of internal branding and its effects in the service sector in general, as well as in UK universities. In addition, the concept of employee brand support is reviewed, discussing the influence of leadership characteristics on internal branding in universities. Employee brand support is a crucial element to successful internal branding activities. A great concern is that the knowledge of internal branding and employee brand support in higher education institutions is based on knowledge imported from the business sector, and more practices should thus be adapted and implemented. It is found that transformation leadership, despite being little researched in the internal branding context, remains the pivotal element to the successful implementation of internal branding, as transformational leadership provides space for intellectual stimulation and consideration of individuals that are present at universities. Potential future research areas for internal branding studies are identified and discussed.
An open access repository of Middlesex University research http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk Sujchaphong, Narissara, Nguyen, Bang and Melewar, T. C. (2017) Towards a branding oriented higher education sector: an overview of the four perspectives on university marketing studies.
The study examines internal branding in higher education institutions and employees' brand support, and investigates the mediating effects of (a) brand-centred training and development activities, and (b) internal brand communication activities. With data collected from 355 respondents across 20 Thai business schools, the study employs structural equation modelling to test a proposed research model. Findings reveal positive relationships between brandcentred training and development activities, internal brand communication activities, transformational leadership characteristics of the immediate leaders, and employee brand support. Unexpectedly, the direct relationship between internal brand communication activities and employee brand support is not significant, indicating that brand-centred training and development activities fully mediate the relationship between internal brand communication activities and employee brand support. This study advances current knowledge about building higher education brands internally and offer practical insights to university managers and public policy makers.
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