The role of CSR engagement in the Internal Brand Building process : An exploratory study of Service firms

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi; Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi

Abstract: This study explores how service firms incorporate CSR activities within the internal brand building process. It was found that CSR does influence and is implemented in every stage of our theoretical framework of the internal brand building process. The study was based on interviews conducted on managers and employees of service firms in the Netherlands and in Sweden.  CSR is an evolving concept, increasingly becoming important in affecting the consumption decisions of service firm’s customers. Service firms are now resorting to incorporating CSR in their internal brand building to appeal to consumers. Consumers who are trying to minimize the inherent risk in buying an intangible product typical of a service product are now shifting their focus from the firm’s product to the firm itself.  The purpose of this study was to explore if and how CSR influences the internal brand building processes of service firms. We did not seek to generalize the findings. We carried out eight interviews where the respondents were able to broadly shared their thoughts and opinions. The research questions we sought to answer were: In what way does CSR influence the internal brand building process in service firms? And, how do service firms implement CSR in their internal brand building process?  It was found that the service firms do define CSR as a responsibility for their Employees, Community, Environment, Clients/Customers as well as Ethical Responsibility. We also found out that CSR influences the internal brand building in service firms through their employees, brand audit, brand identity, brand positioning and brand communication, which we then included in our empirical developed model of the internal brand building processes in service firms. CSR is implemented in service firm’s employees’ management through employee education, training, recruitment and motivation. CSR is implemented in a service firm’s brand audit through a flat/hierarchical organizational structure, multicultural organization, ethics, sustainability, transparency and honesty. CSR is implemented in a service firm’s brand identity through quality assurance, creativity/innovation and compliance. CSR is implemented in a service firm’s brand positioning through partnership, accessibility, quality, trust. CSR is implemented in a service firm's brand communication through intranet, meetings, publications and teams.  Future researchers are recommended to study service firms that are equally divided based on their size, age and wealth to get a deeper understanding. More employees could also be studied since employees might have different viewpoints and since it is found that employees are the most important asset for service firms.

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