Years ago employer branding was assumed to be a short-lived trend of human resource management but over the recent years it has become anchored in organizational management as a long-term and cross-departmental part of corporate strategy. Today more and more organizations are driven to implement an employer brand in the organizational strategy in order to compete in the labor market. The present research addresses several aspects that deepen the knowledge in the area of employer branding. Two different perspectives, the organization's and the target group's, are discussed in this research by answering the following three main research questions:
1. What drives employer branding? 2. How can the employer brand be measured from the perspective of prospective employees? 3. How does existing knowledge of consumers influence a prospective employee's evaluation of the employer brand? Whereas the first research question focuses on the organization's perspective, the second and third research questions deal with the target group's perspective. By applying different qualitative and quantitative research methods (self-report survey, online survey, in-depth interviews and focus group interviews), the above mentioned research questions are examined in detail. Starting with research question 1, an important aspect of this research is the strengthening of the foundation of the topic. It is quite surprising that although several authors have already examined the topic of employer branding, the problems causing the need for employer branding have so far only been discussed at random. This shortfall in academic literature is made up for in this research by providing and empirically testing a conceptual framework of drivers of employer branding from the organization's point of view. The final framework is divided into three organization-related and one environmental factors.
On the organizational side, the factors lacking attractiveness on the labor market, expectations and development are found to drive employer branding. In addition the environmental factor war for talent completes the final framework.
Besides the development of a framework describing the drivers of employer branding, additional information regarding the organizational handling of employer branding are gained. Thus, overall, the high importance of this topic is confirmed, although the importance of the link between organizations and industries varies. In addition, results deliver new insights on the organizational anchoring of employer branding regarding responsibilities and budget. As another result of empirical research, the target group, identified in employer branding literature, is enlarged and further examined.
Another important outcome of this research is the development and validation of an alternative scale measuring the employer brand to answer research question 2. As this research focuses on external employer branding, the developed scale measures the external employer brand strength (EXEBS). Derived from common branding literature, a customer mindset measure focusing on the external brand strengths of the employer brand is developed and discussed in the context of the well-known stimulus-organism-response (SOR) model borrowed from consumer behavior. The EXEBS scale is specified as a second-order factor in a reflective model based on the three first-order factors employer brand image, employer brand trust and employer preference.
This scale is sequentially used to answer research question 3, which seeks to explore how existing knowledge influences the evaluation of the employer brand. Special emphasis is put on the double role of prospective employees as organizational consumers, which represents a new view on the topic of employer branding. Based on the theoretical discussions of employer branding in the context of memory, impression management and individual's knowledge, concrete research hypotheses are formulated and empirically tested. Specifically, the influence of perceived organizational success, product/service evaluations, industry sectors and consumer groups on the employer brand evaluation are tested.
Besides the empirical examination seeking to answer the research questions, the theoretical aspects discussed in this research also deliver new insights on the topic. Starting with the examination of the employer brand in the context of organizational branding, differences and similarities to other organizational brands are discussed to distinguish the employer brand from related brands. Additionally this research provides a holistic definition of both the employer brand and employer branding. To outline the importance of employer branding, the attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) model is used. Furthermore a classification between internal and external employer branding is made and objectives and functions of the employer brand are discussed.
Considering the target group's perspective, employer branding is discussed in the context of several specific approaches borrowed from related research fields. With special focus on external employer branding and therewith the target group of prospective employees, Solomon's (2006) memory relationship model is used to provide an understanding of prospective employees' perception, processing and storage of employment-specific information. When discussing this model, specific implication for employer branding are deduced and concrete examples from economic practice are given. In addition the roles of impression management and schemas for employer branding are also discussed considering the influence of selected theories, like for example the social influence theory, self-image congruency theory or social identity theory.