The Multiple Identities of an Employer

A case study on DHL


Master's Thesis, 2007
88 Pages, Grade: 1.0

Excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF FIGURES

LIST OF TABLES

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION

1. EMPLOYER BRANDING
1.1 Definition
1.2 Employer brand vs. Product brand
1.3 Claimed benefits
1.4 Critiques
1.5 Summary

2. THE ORGANIZATION’S IDENTITY
2.1 The concept of collective identity
2.2 Organizational identity vs. Corporate identity
2.3 The five facets of collective identities
2.4 Strengths and weaknesses of the five facet model
2.5 Employer branding as a particular case of the five facet model
2.6 The five facet model as a dynamic system
2.7 Summary

3. THE FIVE FACET MODEL IN THE LIGHT OF CONTROL THEORY
3.1 Introduction to control theory
3.2 The organization’s identities as a control system
3.3 Manifested identity as a source of error
3.4 A Unified Framework for Identity Gap Analysis
3.5 Implications for employer branding
3.6 Summary

4. DHL’S MANIFESTED IDENTITY
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Key facts about DHL
4.3 The evolution of DHL’s manifested identity
4.4 DHL Today
4.5 Summary

5. DHL’S PROJECTED IDENTITY
5.1 DHL’s new brand
5.1.1 Brand architecture
5.1.2 Personal commitment
5.1.3 Proactive solutions
5.1.4 Local strength worldwide
5.2 Number one
5.3 Growth
5.4 Others
5.5 Implications for DHL’s projected identity as an employer
5.6 Summary

6. DHL’S ATTRIBUTED IDENTITY
6.1 The new brand in the eyes of students
6.2 Attractiveness of DHL as a potential employer
6.3 Attributes and Benefits of DHL as an employer
6.4 Touch-points
6.5 Summary

7. DHL IDENTITY GAP ANALYSIS
7.1 DHL: Projected vs. Attributed Identity
7.1.1 Positively projected benefits which are positively attributed
7.1.2 Positively projected benefits which are both positively and negatively attributed
7.1.3 Positively projected benefits which are negatively attributed
7.1.4 Non-projected benefits which are nonetheless attributed
7.2 Summary

8. RECOMMENDATIONS

APPENDIX I: SURVEY METHODOLOGY AND DEMOGRAPHICS

APPENDIX II: CAREER CHOICE PREFERENCES AMONG STUDENTS

APPENDIX III: EVOLUTION OF DHL’S MANIFESTED IDENTITY

REFERENCES

List of Figures

Figure 1: The brand as a mix of image (projection) and identity (perception)

Figure 2: The elements of the product and employer brands

Figure 3: Corporate vs. Organizational identity: Projection vs. Self-Perception

Figure 4: The five facets of collective identities

Figure 5: Graphical representation of Soenen and Moingeon’s five facet model

Figure 6: Employer branding from the five facet model perspective

Figure 7: Organizations’ identities as a dynamic system

Figure 8: A dynamic system transforms an input signal into an output signal

Figure 9: A dynamic system with feedback loop

Figure 10: A dynamic system with positive feedback will produce an explosive output

Figure 11: In negative feedback systems, output converges with input over time

Figure 12: Customer perception as a dynamic system

Figure 13: The manager, acting as a controller for external identities, minimizes the gap between desired and actual attributed identities by adjusting the projected identity

Figure 14: The manager, acting as a controller for internal identities, minimizes the gap between desired and actual experienced identities by adjusting the professed identity

Figure 15: The manifested identity, if let alone, introduces a systematic error to the system, preventing the convergence between desired and actual identities.

Figure 16: Unified Framework for Identity Gap Analysis

Figure 17: Key facts about Deutsche Post World Net’s various divisions (Annual Report 2006)

Figure 18: DHL’s global expansion in the 1970s and 1980s

Figure 19: DHL’s rebranding: yellow-red in vans, packages and containers

Figure 20: DHL’s professed identity: core descriptors, attributes and benefits

Figure 21: A DHL employee displaying extreme commitment

Figure 22: A DHL employee displaying initiative (DHL, 2006)

Figure 23: Overall effect of DHL’s projected identity to its Employer Brand

Figure 24: Global perception on DHL brand’s core descriptors

Figure 25: German students’ perception on DHL brand’s core descriptors

Figure 26: Chinese students’ perception on DHL brand’s core descriptors

Figure 27: Students response to the question “Would you apply for a job at DHL?”

Figure 28: Chinese students’ response to the question “Would you apply for a job at DHL?”

Figure 29: DHL Employer Attributes as seen by the global student population

Figure 30: DHL Employer Benefits as seen by the global student population

Figure 31: Strongest and weakest associations for German and Chinese students

Figure 32: DHL Employer Attributes as seen by German and Chinese students

Figure 33: DHL Employer Benefits as seen by German and Chinese students

Figure 34: Ms. Fischer about to threaten the author of this thesis

Figure 35: Would you consider working for DHL? Answers of 21 students after showing printed ads

Figure 36: DHL’s attributed identity as an employer

Figure 37: Strong revenue growth supports DHL’s manifested identity as dynamic organization

Figure 38: Convergence through alignment of manifested and projected identities

Figure 39: Geographical distribution of respondents

Figure 40: List of participating universities

Figure 41: Participant age distribution

Figure 42: Participant gender distribution

Figure 43: Total survey responses, categorized by nationality

Figure 44: Participant specialization distribution

Figure 45: Most important employer attributes for students

Figure 46: Most important job characteristics for students

Figure 47: Industry preferences among students

Figure 48: Preferred sources to look for jobs

List of Tables

Table 1: Benefits associated to the Employer Value Proposition

Table 2: Facet differentiation checklist

Table 3: Core, enduring and distinctive elements of DHL’s manifested identity

Table 4: Ambiguous descriptors of DHL’s manifested identity

Table 5: Local knowledge as a secondary claim to global reach

Table 6: Number one claim in several communications

Table 7: DHL’s projected identity as an employer

Table 8: Reasons supporting the attractiveness of DHL as a potential employer

Table 9: Attractiveness from the employer brand perspective

Table 10: Attributes and benefits from the employer brand perspective

Table 11: Touch point analysis from employer brand perspective

Table 12: DHL’s attributed identity as an employer

Table 13 DHL: Projected vs. Attributed Identity as an Employer

Table 14: Recommendations to improve DHL’s perception among students

Abstract

This thesis mainly deals with the challenge of analyzing an organization’s ability to attract employees. In spite of the abundance of literature covering the subject, there is little empirical evidence supporting the superiority of one method over the other. Such over-supply of organizational theories clearly calls for a unified framework that allows organizations to evaluate and improve their attractiveness as an employer, and as a consequence, this thesis aims to contribute to the field by introducing a Unified Framework for Identity Gap Analysis (UFIGA).

The UFIGA draws upon the contributions of three particular theories, which are Employer Branding, the Multiple Facets of Collective Identities and Control Theory, bringing together concepts from typically separated disciplines, such as human resources, marketing, organizational behavior, social psychology, math and engineering. Such a breadth of disciplines allow the model to deal with many aspects of an employer’s attractiveness, such as the benefits presented to the target audience (employer branding), the differentiation between projection and perception of these benefits (multiple identities) and the manipulation of certain aspects of the organization’s identity as a means of minimizing the gap between projection and perception of benefits (control theory).

Besides of formulating a theoretical model for employer attractiveness analysis, this thesis provides the reader with a particular case of the model’s applicability. In fact, it applies the UFIGA to the p]articular case of DHL, a worldwide market leader in the Express and Logistics business, whose identity as an employer is somewhat overshadowed by its strong consumer brand. After collecting information about three particular facets of DHL’s identity as an employer (i.e. DHL’s manifested, projected and attributed identities), the mismatches between projected and attributed identities are identified. Particular examples of such mismatches can be found in several elements of DHL’s employer value proposition, such as work challenge, inspiring colleagues, product reputation and development reputation. Once identified, these gaps are explained in terms of DHL’s manifested identity, thus proving the convergence assumptions introduced by the UFIGA.

Moreover, the identification and explanation of mismatches allow the author to formulate possible recommendations to minimize those gaps, thus enhancing DHL’s attractiveness as an employer. An overview of these recommendations can be found in the last chapter of this thesis.

Introduction

If you think about it, it is no surprise that a company’s financial performance depends heavily on its human resources. Customers are today much more demanding than ever, and therefore, their willingness to pay for a given product or service heavily depends on a company’s ability to fulfill those demands. Companies, in order to please customers and capture market shares, must continuously differentiate themselves from competitors, requiring not only capital and technology, but also highly- skilled employees who are able to transform those resources into products that will be desperately sought by customers, thus greatly improving the financial performance of a company.

Given the great importance of talent for a company’s success, many organizations find themselves not only competing for customers, but also for the right employees. Such a competition on the employee market can be indeed as tough as that on the product or service market, no matter how big or well- known the seeking company may be. It is exactly because of this fierce competition that companies cannot just sit still and wait for the right employees to appear. Quite on the contrary, they must enter the fight with a clear and differentiated proposition that allow them to obtain the right people.

Now, let us assume that a company has consciously entered the game and has therefore tried to project itself to the target audience as a good place to work. But then, regardless of their efforts, they are just unable to attract the right people. How can such a company analyze its current value proposition? Is there an adequate way to diagnostic this company’s deficiencies as an employer? And if so, is it possible to systematically increase a company’s attractiveness as an employer, say, by minimizing the gaps between their projected and perceived images? The objective of this thesis is precisely to answer these questions by analyzing the concept of employer attractiveness from three very particular perspectives.

The first perspective, explored in Chapter 1, is that of Employer Branding, a relatively recent concept that has already become very popular in both Marketing and HR literature, and which deals with the challenge of communicating and differentiating an employer value proposition in order to attract and retain talent. The second one, introduced in Chapter 2, is that of the Multiple Identities of an Organization, a subject with a very long tradition in several fields of study, such as Marketing, Social Psychology and Organizational Behavior, which aims to identify the core, distinctive and enduring elements that describe an organization.

The third perspective, and perhaps the most unusual for an employer attractiveness study, is presented in Chapter 3. A multidisciplinary field built upon the contributions of engineers, physicists and mathematicians, Control Theory, deals with the challenge of manipulating the inputs of a system in order to make the system’s outputs converge to a desired value. As strange as it may seem, Control Theory brings a very useful perspective to the problem of aligning the multiple identities of an employer, therefore serving as a common ground to the theories of Employer Branding and Organization’s Identity. The interconnections between these theories serve as a basis for the Unified Framework for Identity Gap Analysis, an identity analysis tool which is introduced in chapter 3 as well.

After laying the foundations to undertake an employer identity analysis, Chapters 4, 5 and 6 explore the case of DHL, a global leader in the express and logistics market, which in spite of possessing enviable consumer brand awareness, struggles to attract the right talent. These chapters deal in particular with those identities as an employer that have a direct impact on potential employees, i.e. DHL’s manifested, projected and attributed identities. The resting identities, i.e. professed and experienced, are purposely ignored due to their greater interest in an employee retention analysis.

After understanding the main elements of each of the considered identities, as well as their implications to DHL’s attractiveness as an employer, Chapter 7 attempts to identify the most important gaps among these multiple identities and to understand where these gaps originate. The results of this analysis then serve as a basis for recommendations aimed at reducing those gaps in Chapter 8, thus providing a practical example of the applicability of the Unified Framework for Identity Gap Analysis.

1. Employer Branding

In order to analyze DHL’s identity as an employer, first we need to understand some of the frameworks typically used for employer analysis. Given the recent popularity of employer branding in corporate identity, marketing and HR literature (Jenner and Taylor 2007), we will devote the current chapter to understand what employer branding means and how it can be used to attract and retain employees. Though brief, this chapter should introduce the reader to the essentials of employer branding, allowing him/her to follow the analysis made to DHL’s identity as an employer in subsequent chapters.

1.1 Definition

The term employer branding, of relative recent origin, was first coined by Ambler and Barrow (1996), who defined it as “the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment, and identified with the employing company” (p.187). Since then, the term has received considerable attention from academics, marketing and HR managers, and of course, all sorts of management gurus. For instance, if we look for the term “employer branding” in Google, the search engine will return over 337,000 hits, i.e. roughly twice the amount of hits received by the term “psychological contract”, another very popular term in HR literature which has been around for already four decades (CIPD 2003).

Such a vertiginous popularization of the term has of course brought an abundance of definitions with it. For instance, Dell et al (2001) define employer branding as an attempt to establish the identity of the firm as an employer, by aligning “the firm’s values, systems, policies and behaviors towards the objectives of attracting, motivating and retaining the firm’s current and potential employees” (p.10). Whereas Dell focuses on the alignment of resources to attract and retain employees, Lloyd (2002) emphasizes the necessity of establishing emotive connections to the target audience by defining employer branding as the “sum of a company’s efforts to communicate to existing and prospective staff that it is a desirable place to work”.

Regardless of the formal definition, most academics agree on the fact that employer branding finds its origin in marketing theory. To the benefit of their companies, marketers have long identified the value proposition of a product as the set of benefits promised to a customer for the purchase of such product. Without a promise of functional, economic or psychological benefits, products and services would hardly find customers willing to pay for them. On the other hand -so goes the story- HR managers have historically ignored that potential employees are not very different from potential customers, and that in order to attract the right employees, employers must promise a series of benefits that appeal to their needs and desires. Improving an organization’s ability to differentiate and communicate such promise, also known as employer value proposition, is the key to win the so-called “talent war”.

1.2 Employer brand vs. Product brand

In essence, an employer brand is not very different from a product or company brand. In general, a brand can be conceived as a mix of brand identity and brand image. Whereas the brand identity can be defined “as the message sent [to the target audience] through the product’s form, name, visual signs, advertising, etc.” (Melin 2005, p.17), the brand image refers to how the target audience perceives it. So from that point of view, the product and employer brand are very similar.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: The brand as a mix of identity (projection) and image(perception)

The difference arises when we look at the elements that conform each of these two dimensions in detail. On the one hand, product brands are composed of several elements, such as product features, quality, performance, value, design, prestige, etc. Those are the elements that define how a brand is projected (identity) and perceived (image). On the other hand, employer brands are similarly composed of several elements that define projection and perception, but the elements are rather related to the “company as a desired workplace” than to the “product as a desired purchase”. The connection between a company’s product brand and its employer brand has been illustrated by the Corporate Leadership Council (1999), and is reproduced below.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: The elements of the product and employer brands

Source: Corporate Leadership Council (1999) in Melin (2005)

If we look carefully, a product or company brand is indeed part of the employer brand. A company with a strong product brand should not be surprised if its employer brand is perceived in a similar way as its product (e.g. a company producing high quality goods might be perceived by potential employees as a place where everything is beyond the industry standards, including compensation, management practices, etc). Similarly, a company with a weak product brand must probably compensate for it with other elements of the employer brand -such as compensation or work-life balance- in order to attract and retain talents.

According to The Corporate Leadership Council (1999), each of the five elements constituting the employer brand is associated with a category of benefits that could potentially attract and retain employees to the company. A detailed list of these categories and related benefits, also known as Employer Value Proposition, is displayed below.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table 1: Benefits associated to the Employer Value Proposition

1.3 Claimed benefits

Supporters of the employer branding theory have attributed a series of benefits to adopting such practice, including:

- Increased appeal to potential employees: The obvious benefit of selling the “great place to work” promise to potential employees is that these will be more inclined to apply and decide to work for your company (Ambler and Barrow, 1996).
- Enhanced business performance: Employees, convinced of being employed in a great workplace, are more likely to engage emotionally with the companies’ goals and values. Increased engagement is expected to result in increased productivity, and subsequently, in increased margins (Melin, 2005).
- Increased retention rates: Engaged employees are likely to stay longer in a company (Sullivan, 2006)
- Improved talent seeking: One of the most interesting benefits of employer branding mentioned in the literature is that of improved talent seeking. According to Lee, having a strong employer branding will ultimately lead to turning “your whole workforce into a tribe of headhunters”. As employees become familiar with the kind of talent their company is seeking, they start to look around for candidates meeting those criteria.
- Higher stock price: A positive image of the company might even influence financial analysts! (Sullivan, 2006)
- Reinforcement of product brands: Just as strong product brands will add to the employer brand, strong employer brands could lead customers to believe that the products conform to similarly high quality standards (Sullivan, 2006)

1.4 Critiques

The whole concept of employer branding relies on the very important assumption of a skilled labor shortage Such a shortage intensifies the competition among companies seeking to attract skilled labor, forcing them to differentiate themselves in the eyes of potential employees (Jenner and Taylor, 2007). In a world with plenty of available talent, differentiation would become superfluous, and so would employer branding.

On the other hand, there seems to be little empiric evidence about the effectiveness of employer branding. In fact, Rosethorn and Hodes (2007) refer to many articles on employer branding as lacking “metrics and hard evidence to show that the employer branding efforts […] have delivered business results” (p. 5). Such a view is supported by Martin (2007), who places serious doubts on the validity of the employer branding theory, by stating that “employer branding has still not been subject to a forensic examination of how it is supposed to work in theory, whether it works in practice from an evidencedbased perspective, and under what conditions it will work most effective.” (p.18)

Regardless of the effectiveness of employer branding, some authors seem to be concerned with the ethical implications of “living the brand”. For instance, Jenner and Taylor (2007) accuse employer branding of “being an activity that glosses over the gaps, contradictions, frustrations and disappointment inherent in the real” (p.8). Moreover, by questioning the desirability of employer branding, the authors draw attention upon the unexplored ethical consequences of selling “unrealistic expectations of organizational life”.

1.5 Summary

In this chapter we presented the theory of employer branding as a means of attracting and retaining employees. By creating a differentiated employer value proposition that communicates the benefits of working in a company, it is expected that a steady flow of applicants will seek to work for the branded company. Moreover, current employees will become further engaged to the company, contributing to improve the company’s financial performance. However, a successful branding strategy requires aligning several functions of the organization in order to provide a coherent experience to both potential and existing employees. Such a reorganization of resources has a deep impact to the organization’s identity, and therefore, deserves been observed from the point of view of the collective identity theory.

2. The Organization’s Identity

In the previous chapter we took a look at the concept of employer branding and explored some of its ramifications. In particular, we emphasized the notion of employer value proposition as a set of benefits to be offered to existing and potential employees. However, as pointed out by Dell et al (2001), the employer brand is also an attempt to establish the identity of the firm as an employer. Such affirmation leads then to a series of questions, such as: Is there something such as an organization’s identity? If so, what does it mean and what are the main aspects of such identity?

To answer these questions, in this chapter we will explore the various facets of the organization’s identity. In order to do so, a discussion on the different traditions contributing to the field of collective identity will be provided, contrasting their different views on the subject. This discussion will serve as a basis to understand the need of a unifying framework to describe the organization’s identity, and will lead to the introduction of a very interesting model published by Soenen and Moingeon in 2002. Once the model is presented, the connections between employer branding and the organization’s identity will be explored.

2.1 The concept of collective identity

As pointed out by Cornelissen et al (2007), the issue of organizational and corporate identity has received recently significant coverage in the management literature. The main reason for this phenomenon is the lack of clarity surrounding the subject of collective identity. As suggested by a literature review from Soenen and Moingeon (2002), the field of collective identity suffers from the following weaknesses:

- Complexity
- Semantic confusion arising from contradicting definitions
- Lack of integration between different schools of thoughts

Indeed, many schools of thoughts have defined collective identity in many ways, being marketers and organizational theorists the most prolific of these traditions. Balmer and Greyser (2002) have identified at least 8 disciplines attempting to define some form of collective identity, including Marketing, Economics, Strategy, Organizational Behavior and Social Psychology.

2.2 Organizational identity vs. Corporate identity

As mentioned previously, marketers and organizational theorists have had the most prominent roles in defining the concept of collective identities. These two traditions have indeed coined different terms to refer to different aspects of the collective identity.

According to Balmer (1994), the concept of corporate identity finds its roots in the late 1950s, when management consultancy firms start managing companies’ logos and other visual attributes. On the other hand, Cornelissen et al (2007), trace its origins to “design, marketing and corporate communications communities [concerned] with the ways in which organizations present themselves to external audiences” (S.6). Regardless of its real origin, the concept of corporate identity gradually evolves from being restricted to logos and visual design, “to encompass communications and all forms of outward-facing behavior in the marketplace” (Cornelissen et al 2007, S.6).

Whereas the corporate identity seems to be related primarily to the projection of an image to external audiences, thus serving the purpose of marketers, the concept of organizational identity seems to address a different need. By answering the question “Who are we as a group?”, an organization defines its own organizational identity. According to Pratt and Foreman (2000), organizational identity can be understood as “those characteristics of an organization that its members believe are central, distinctive and enduring” (p.20). As such, it “consists of those attributes that members feel are fundamental to and uniquely descriptive of the organization and that persist within the organization over time”.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: Corporate vs. Organizational identity: Projection vs. Self-Perception

In a nutshell, whereas the traditional definition of corporate identity looks at the communication of an image to the outside (projection), the organizational identity looks at how a group defines itself (perception). Together, these two definitions form the basis of numerous discussions in the collective identity literature, and provide a starting point to other numerous definitions.

2.3 The five facets of collective identities

As a response to this problem, Soenen and Moingeon (2002) have proposed a unifying framework that reconciles many of the existing definitions in organizational and corporate identity literature, bringing together contributions from historically separated traditions, such as the marketing and organizational theory traditions. According to Soenen and Moingeon, organizations have not only different identities, but each identity is composed of interacting dimensions or facets. The five facet model conceives in particular five identities:

Figure 4: The five facets of collective identities

1. The identity professed in speech, notably by management, but potentially by any organizational group. The professed identity is often oriented toward the future, and may sometimes be regarded as a desired identity.
2. The identity projected by the organization towards its various stakeholders through various media. Consisting of communications, behaviors and symbols, this facet is tuned up to circumstances and specific audiences.
3. The experienced identity refers to what organizational members experience, more or less consciously, with regard to their organization, and can be understood as a self-attributed identity.
4. The identity attributed to the organization by its external stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, shareholder and potential employees.
5. The identity manifested in the organizational routines, technologies, structures and achievements. The farther one looks back in history, the more aspects of other identity facets may compose the manifested identity, hence the identity system is path-dependent.

Source: Soenen and Moingeon (2002), Soenen, Monin, Rouzies (2005)

Just as in the case of the corporate and organizational identity definitions presented previously, the five facet model is concerned with the differentiation between projection (professed and projected identities) and perception (experienced and attributed identities). In addition, there is a clear distinction between internal audiences (professed and experienced identities) and external audiences (projected and attributed).

In addition, the model introduces a dimension that had not been considered before, embodied by the manifested identity, which attempts to define the organization by looking at its history through the lenses of the organization’s routines, structures, technologies and achievements. Such a definition is very similar to the actual identity introduced by Balmer and Greyser (2002) in their AC2 ID model; a definition that abandons the difficulties of interpreting symbols and its subsequent classification into projected or perceived categories, and rather focuses on the non-interpretable elements of the identity. A graphical description of the five face model is presented below and should allow readers to better understand what each of these identities mean.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 5: Graphical representation of Soenen and Moingeon’s five facet model

2.4 Strengths and weaknesses of the five facet model

Most of the strengths of this model derive from its unifying nature. In fact, we are able to identify the following strengths of the model:

Comprehensiveness: Contributions from historically separated traditions, such as marketing and organizational theory, are put together into a single model, allowing researchers from either school of thought to perform more comprehensive analysis of collective identities.

Improved communication among scholars: Debate among scholars can take place on a common ground / language, allowing them to understand each other better.

Although more structured than many of its predecessors, the model also suffers from certain weaknesses. For instance, the learning curve required to identity properly the characteristics of a certain facet of a given corporate identity is not always easy (e.g. is the corporate dress of an airline part of its projected or manifested identity?)

As a contribution to this model, we propose a checklist that might help scholars to differentiate between some of these aspects. This checklist will be of particular importance in the following chapters, in which we attempt to perform a five facet analysis of DHL, a transport and logistics company with worldwide operations.

Table 2: Facet differentiation checklist

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: The author in collaboration with Prof. Guillaume Soenen (2007)

2.5 Employer branding as a particular case of the five facet model

The first evidence of employer branding as an exercise of identity formation is given by Dell et al (2001), who defined employer branding as the “identity of the firm as an employer. It encompasses the firm’s values, systems, policies, and behaviors towards the objectives of attracting, motivating, and retaining the firm’s current and potential employees”. As such, the employer branding becomes a sub-set of the organization’s identity, i.e. a part of the identity concerned primarily with attracting, motivating and retaining employees.

Another connection between employer brand and the organization’s identity can be obtained by revisiting the definition of employer brand as a mix of brand image and brand identity. Whereas the first is concerned with the message sent to the target audience (“listen, this is a great place to work!”), the second describes how the target audience perceives that image (“I would rather work somewhere else”). From the five facet model perspective, such descriptions of brand image and brand identity are a perfect match to the projected and attributed identities (see below).

Figure 6: Employer branding from the five facet model perspective

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Having said this, the ideal Employer Brand manager should not only take a look at its external audience, but also at the existing staff. That is, he/she must continuously remove those obstacles preventing the company to become a great place to work, so that the efforts to internally profess the company ’ s identity as an employer are not experienced with cynicism by the current staff.

Finally, the manifested identity, as a blueprint of the way the company performs its operations, is a reflection of “how things work”, and ultimately, of “how people think” in a given organization. For instance, an automobile manufacturer that takes one year to deliver an auto to its customers (e.g. because its parts are hand-made), will probably give a different impression to potential employees than a similar company that is able to deliver in, say, a couple of months. Whereas some potential employees will see the long delay as a sign of “very complex” type of work, others might perceive it as rather “relaxed” atmosphere.

2.6 The five facet model as a dynamic system

Soenen and Moingeon do not only propose a unified framework to deal with corporate identities, but they also compare it to a dynamic system, in which centrifugal and centripetal forces affect an organization’s identity system:

“ These forces can originate either from within or outside of the organization. Centrifugal forces refer to events, sequence of events and processes that increase the gap between the facets , and thus, threaten the system ’ s integrity. [ … ] On the contrary, centripetal forces refer to events, sequence of events or processes that contribute to maintaining the system ’ s integrity by bringing identity facets into alignment ” (Soenen and Moingeon 2002, p.26-27)

The identification of the five facet model with a dynamic system is very opportune, as it adds credibility to the model and places it at a par with models used in other disciplines, such as physics and engineering. However, the model is rather simple and does not explain how the gaps are widened or increased by these centrifugal and centripetal forces.

To address that question, in the next chapter we propose a more detailed model that takes into account the discrepancies among facets and explains how organizations, by pursuing certain strategic visions, tend to create inconsistencies between facets.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 7: Organizations’ identities as a dynamic system

Source: Soenen and Moingeon (2002)

2.7 Summary

In this chapter we have introduced the reader to the concept of collective identities. Though complex and full of seemingly contradictory definitions, the field of collective identities also presents great potential for improvement.

In an attempt to tap such potential and put an end to the confusion reigning in this field, Soenen and Moingeon have proposed a five facet model that reconciles some of the most prominent definitions of collective identity, including those arising from the marketing and organizational theory traditions. The five facet model conceives two outward looking identities (projected and attributed), as well as two inward looking identities (professed and experienced). In addition to the outward/inward looking dimension, these identities differentiate with each other through a projection/perception dimension. The fifth identity, or manifested, rather than attempting to define a projection or perception of an identity, deals with the procedures, structures and technologies that characterize a company over time (i.e. from a relatively objective perspective).

After introducing the five facets model, which will be used in the following chapters to characterize DHL’s identities as an employer, we explored some of the connections between employer branding and collective identity, concluding that employer branding is nothing else than a sub-set of the collective identity of a company, i.e. the organization’s identity as an employer.

Finally we took a look at the organization’s identity as a dynamic system, laying the foundations for next chapter, which will be concerned with analyzing the organization’s identities from a control theory perspective.

[...]

Excerpt out of 88 pages

Details

Title
The Multiple Identities of an Employer
Subtitle
A case study on DHL
College
European School of Management and Technology, Berlin
Grade
1.0
Author
Year
2007
Pages
88
Catalog Number
V162729
ISBN (eBook)
9783640774227
ISBN (Book)
9783640774388
File size
1331 KB
Language
English
Tags
Multiple, Identities, Employer
Quote paper
Marcelo Savignano (Author), 2007, The Multiple Identities of an Employer, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/162729

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