The Relationship Between Internal Branding and Affective Commitment
Abstract: Service firms increasingly need to rely on other attributes than traditional quality and performance of their service employees to become and stay truly competitive. Strong brands are essential for differentiation in today's marketplace and it becomes naturally important to align the customer contact employees with the company brand to ensure consistency in all communication externally. For a service firm employee to fully enact the brand and display on brand behavior outwards it is pivotal to make them truly committed to the brand and organization. Internal branding processes have been shown to be an enabler of employee commitment to the organizational brand. While internal branding is stated to have a connection to commitment, the concept as such is according to Meyer & Allen (1991) constituted by three dimensions, normative, affective and continuance commitment. The bulk of the existing research has so far focused on internal branding and commitment as a single construct and not these dimensions. Much of this research is in addition limited to a few service sectors.The aim of this study was to determine the components of internal branding in order to clarify the relationship between internal branding and brand commitment of customer contact employees. The empirical investigation was conducted in the retail sector from the perspective of the customer contact employee by the use of a self-completion questionnaire measuring the affective commitment of the employees and the presence of the internal branding activities. The conceptual model for the study shows hypothesized positive relationships between the four internal branding activities and affective commitment. However, while all internal branding activities were significantly present, only three of these were found to have a significant positive relationship to affective commitment, excluding internal communication.The conclusions of this study gives managers of customer contact employee’s insights about how to enable affective commitment through the use of internal branding. Our results show that brand oriented training, recruitment and leadership all have a significant impact on affective commitment of customer contact employees. Although they had similar Beta values, brand oriented leadership showed a slightly higher predicting power indicating that leadership can play a greater role regarding the affective commitment of customer contact employees.
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