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  • Master Thesis

    International employer

    branding How European MNCs can win the war for talents

    in China

    Author: Marco Koster, Silvia

    Mayer

    Supervisor: Dr. Susanne Sandberg

    Examiner: Dr. Richard Owusu

    Date: 26.05.2016

    Subject: Business Administration

    with specialization in International

    Business Strategy, Degree Project

    (Master)

    Level: Master

    Course code: 4FE81E

  • i

    Abstract

    The increasing competition for high skilled employees has resulted in a war for

    talents. Companies in Europe and in Asia struggle to find employees with relevant

    skills and possessing the right talent. This problem is especially relevant for

    European MNCs that operate in China since skilled local Chinese talent is

    insufficient and Chinese employees are starting to value Chinese companies over

    European MNCs as their employer of choice. To overcome this problem, companies

    can use employer branding to attract high skilled applicants and win the war for

    talents. Employer branding serves as a long-term strategy to manage the awareness

    and perception of potential employees. Due to cultural differences, the awareness and

    perceptions of potential employees in terms of employer attractiveness differ across

    countries and therefore the strategies managing these perceptions require adaptation.

    Currently, there is a lack of research on how European companies operating in China

    adapt their employer branding to attract potential Chinese employees.

    This Master thesis therefore analyses three European MNCs with Chinese

    subsidiaries to explore how they attract potential employees through an attractive

    employer brand by adapting it to the Chinese context. Through a qualitative study

    and interviewing a responsible HR manager in both the European headquarters and

    the Chinese subsidiary, this research analyses employer branding in the two different

    cultural contexts in an embedded multiple-case design. The research concludes that

    the interest value and development value are adapted to the Chinese context, as well

    as various aspects of the external employer branding strategies.

    Keywords

    Employer Branding, HRM, War for talents, Employer attractiveness, Recruitment,

    Employer branding strategies, Adaptation, MNC.

  • ii

    Acknowledgements

    This master thesis has been a great learning experience and journey for the past two

    months. We would like to thank some special persons that have helped us along the

    way to successfully write our thesis and contributed in achieving our Master degrees.

    First of all, we would like to thank our supervisor Dr. Susanne Sandberg who has

    provided us with valuable feedback and tips to send us in the right direction during

    the writing of our thesis. Secondly, we would like to thank Dr. Richard Owusu who

    has provided us with constructive feedback during the opposition seminars along the

    way.

    We furthermore would like to make a special note of thanks to the companies that

    have provided us with empirical information for our thesis. The companies used in

    this study have requested confidentiality and therefore their names cannot be

    presented. The companies and interviewees have participated voluntarily and made

    costly time and information available for us, which deserves a special note of thanks.

    Without a willingness to participate in educational projects by companies, students

    will miss out on important practical and relevant information and therefore we

    encourage companies to participate in university projects. We will try to return the

    favor in the careers that lay ahead for ourselves in order to help students in the future.

    As a last note, we would like to thank our classmates and families. It has been a great

    year and thank you all for being part of it. Also our classmates have provided us with

    valuable feedback during the opposition seminars, which was very much appreciated.

    Thank you all!

    Kalmar, May 2016

    Marco Koster and Silvia Mayer

  • iii

    Table of Content

    1 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 1

    1.1 Background ........................................................................................................ 1

    1.2 Problem discussion ............................................................................................ 4

    1.2.1 Employer branding ..................................................................................... 4

    1.2.2 International employer branding ................................................................. 5

    1.2.3 International employer branding in China .................................................. 6

    1.2.4 Research gaps, focus and contribution ....................................................... 8

    1.3 Research question .............................................................................................. 9

    1.4 Purpose ............................................................................................................... 9

    1.5 Delimitations .................................................................................................... 10

    1.6 Report structure ................................................................................................ 11

    2 Theoretical framework ............................................................................................ 12

    2.1 The broader scope of employer branding ........................................................ 12

    2.1.1 Human resource management ................................................................... 12

    2.1.2 Internal marketing ..................................................................................... 13

    2.2 Concept and components of employer branding ............................................. 13

    2.2.1 External employer branding ...................................................................... 14

    2.2.2 Employer attractiveness ............................................................................ 15

    2.2.3 Employer brand associations .................................................................... 16

    2.3 External employer branding strategies ............................................................ 18

    2.3.1 Brand management ................................................................................... 18

    2.3.2 Recruitment ............................................................................................... 19

    2.3.3 Training and development ........................................................................ 19

    2.3.4 Employee benefits ..................................................................................... 20

    2.4 International employer branding and adaptation ............................................. 21

    2.4.1 Adaptation factor: culture ......................................................................... 21

    2.4.2 Adaptation factor: corporate identity ........................................................ 22

    2.5 Theoretical synthesis ........................................................................................ 23

    2.5.1 Research model ......................................................................................... 23

  • iv

    2.5.2 Employer attractiveness in China ............................................................. 25

    3 Methodology ........................................................................................................... 28

    3.1 Research approach ........................................................................................... 28

    3.2 Research methods ............................................................................................ 29

    3.3 Research design ............................................................................................... 29

    3.4 Type of data ..................................................................................................... 30

    3.5 Sampling method and sample size ................................................................... 31

    3.6 Sample selection criteria .................................................................................. 32

    3.7 Method of interview ......................................................................................... 33

    3.8 Operationalization ............................................................................................ 34

    3.9 Method of analysis ........................................................................................... 35

    3.10 Research process ............................................................................................ 37

    3.11 Quality of research ......................................................................................... 38

    4 Empirical findings ................................................................................................... 39

    4.1 Gertecho ........................................................................................................... 39

    4.1.1 Europe ....................................................................................................... 39

    4.1.2 China ......................................................................................................... 42

    4.2 Swed