• Employee brand internalization: The central route to a brand aligned workforce

      King, Ceridwyn; Chen, Chih-Chien; Hunt, James M. (James Michael); Kent, Aubrey; Di Benedetto, C. Anthony (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)
      To achieve brand success and develop a competitive advantage through consistently delivering brand experiences to customers, the roles of employees in service organizations are critical. Specifically, it is necessary that service employees are capable and motivated to transform a brand promise into brand reality. Although service organizations have widely adopted internal branding initiatives to engender employees' pro-brand attitude and behavior, how employees perceive such organizational effort to inform their brand-consistent attitude and behavioral outcomes has remained unclear. Drawing upon Job Characteristics Theory, Self-Determination Theory, and Organismic Integration Theory, it is suggested that the attainment of employees' pro-brand attitude and behavior requires a joint effort from both the organization and employees. Organizations need to establish a brand climate through internal branding practices that enhance employees' perceived encouragement and support of the coveted brand performance. Based on this brand climate, employees are likely to internalize the brand enabling them to obtain necessary brand knowledge and skills, understand the relevance of the brand to their roles, as well as perceive a fit between their values and the values of the brand. As such, employees are more likely to develop positive brand attitudes and behaviors, including endorsing the brand, staying with the brand, and exhibiting brand-consistent behaviors (i.e., employee brand equity). The brand climate to brand internalization to employee brand equity model conceptualized in this dissertation was assessed with two empirical studies. Study 1 utilized a sample of current employees in service-related industries and Study 2 served as a strict replication study with a sample of current hotel employees. Additional moderation effects based on employees' individual traits including proactive personality and intrinsic motivation were also examined in Study 2. The results from both studies provide strong support for the conceptual model. Brand climate is shown to have a significant impact on all employee brand internalization factors. That is, when employees perceive that the organization is supportive and encouraging with respect to employees' brand performance, they are more likely to transform such perception into their brand understanding, including perceiving appropriate brand knowledge, self-brand relevance, and congruence between the brand values and their own value systems. In addition, it was found that when employees perceive a high level of relevance between their roles and the brand success, as well as congruence between the brand's values and their personal values, they are more likely to develop positive brand attitudes and behaviors, including endorsing the brand, staying with the brand, and exhibiting brand-consistent behaviors (i.e., employee brand equity). Further, it is suggested that employee proactive personality has a positive impact on the relationship between brand climate and employee brand value congruence, while employee intrinsic motivation to work has a negative impact on the relationship between employee perceived brand relevance and employee brand equity. This dissertation significantly advances the current internal brand management literature and contributes to theory development with respect to examining and validating employee brand internalization. This dissertation also provides practical implications to help justify and guide service organizations' investment in internal branding. In addition, this dissertation demonstrates that a brand-aligned workforce can be selected and cultivated through a brand climate that affords employees' internalization of the brand.