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Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Business Research

Projecting corporate brand image and behavioral response in business


schools: Cognitive or affective brand attributes?
Sharifah Faridah Syed Alwi a,, Philip J. Kitchen b
a
Brunel Business School, Brunel University London, UK
b
ESC Rennes School of Business, Rennes, France

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: This paper considers corporate brand image, focusing on cognitive and affective brand attributes in the context of
Received 1 February 2014 business schools. While previous research on university or institutional branding has studied these elements sep-
Received in revised form 1 April 2014 arately via cognitive (e.g., service or educational quality attributes) or affective criteria (personality traits of the
Accepted 1 May 2014
corporate brand), this study investigates them jointly through behavioral responses (leading to positive recom-
Available online 2 July 2014
mendations about the corporate brand). This is important because brand equity such as positive word-of-mouth
Keywords:
(or mouse) is derived from both attitudinal components, rather than being based on only one component. Draw-
Business school brand ing on an empirical survey of postgraduate (MBA) students from four business schools, the ndings reveal that
Corporate brand image both cognitive and affective attitudinal components appear equally important in shaping corporate brand
Word-of-mouth image. Further, when the mediating effect is investigated, interestingly, students' positive recommendations to
Consumer loyalty attitudinal criteria schools depended largely on the affective (prestigious, adventurous, empathy and competence) rather than
Higher education upon the cognitive brand attributes. This paper contributes theoretically to the corporate brand and consumer
behavior literature by investigating both attitudinal components at a corporate brand level and investigates
their effects on behavioral/conative response. The practical contribution of the paper and its managerial implica-
tions lie in the context of dening strategy in relation to positioning business schools in an increasingly compet-
itive higher education market.
2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction Goonawardana, 2007). By having a reputable image a business school


will benet in many ways including rank, increased enrollment of excel-
The increased demand for business education worldwide (Hawawini, lent students, attracting funding opportunities, top employer recruitment,
2005) has led the business school industry to become one of the fastest- and alumni donations (Curtis et al., 2009; Davies & Chun, 2008; Gioia &
growing segments in higher education and it continues to grow steadily Corley, 2002). In addition, several researchers have proposed that busi-
around the globe (Antunes & Thomas, 2007; Curtis, Abratt, & Minor, ness schools or higher educational institutions (HEIs) can effectively posi-
2009; Davies & Chun, 2008). However, such growth underpins competi- tion their corporate or institutional brands by using corporate brand
tive pressures among schools to be seen as prestigious locally as well as image (Balmer & Liao, 2007; Bennett & Ali-Choudhury, 2009; Curtis
globally. This has resulted in the burgeoning importance of branding et al., 2009; Davies & Chun, 2008; Hemsley-Brown & Goonawardana,
within educational institutions and business schools (Hemsley-Brown & 2007; Melewar & Akel, 2005).
However, despite the above, to-date, only few scholars focus upon
the corporate brand image in the business school context when model-
ling consumer behavioral response (e.g., Curtis et al., 2009; Davies &
The authors thank TC Melewar, Middlesex University London, for the comments, in-
sights and input. The authors are grateful to the University Malaya Research Grant
Chun, 2008; Hemsley-Brown & Goonawardana, 2007; Hemsley-Brown
(UMRG), Malaysia for the research grant awarded for this project under grant no. FS126/ & Oplatka, 2006; Melewar & Akel, 2005). Most extant works in this
2007C. We express our deepest appreciation to the Ministry of Higher Education, context either tend to be theoretical in nature (Hemsley-Brown &
Malaysia (MOHE) and Deans for the permission granted to collect data on all four state Goonawardana, 2007) or focus on the services aspect of HEIs by incor-
business schools involved in this study.
porating a singular component of attitude such as service, product or ed-
Corresponding author at: Brunel Business School, Brunel University London, UB8 3PH
Uxbridge, UK. ucational quality. For example, past studies have attempted to understand
E-mail addresses: sharifah.alwi@brunel.ac.uk (S.F. Syed Alwi), how HEIs or business schools position themselves by understanding
philip.kitchen@esc-rennes.fr, philipkitchen@hotmail.com (P.J. Kitchen). choice factors of studentconsumers using elements such as service and

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2014.06.020
0148-2963/ 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336 2325

product or educational quality (school facilities, program quality and 2. Literature review
course choice, learning environment, university accommodation, teach-
ing methods, and the people element academics or administration) This study investigates what drives corporate brand image of busi-
(see C-L-Ng & Forbes, 2009; Holdford & Reinders, 2001; Maringe, 2006; ness schools through the cognitive and affective brand attributes jointly
Petruzzellis, D'Uggento, & Romanazzi, 2006; Price, Matzdorf, Smith, & and explores their direct and indirect effects on satisfaction and loyalty.
Agahi, 2003; Voss, Gruber, & Szmigin, 2007). The following denes the study constructs and develops the research
While the above studies provide useful initial understanding of how hypotheses.
corporate brand image could be perceived in this sector, they represent
only a single attitude component of the corporate brand image such as 2.1. Corporate brand image An attitude overall evaluation
cognitive or functional attributes (Balmer & Gray, 2003) and thus can
only partially explain the impact of the corporate brand (Anisimova, The terms image about a brand (brand image) and image about the
2007). Perceived service quality is only a form of cognitive evaluation corporation (corporate brand image) have received great attention
(Brady & Cronin, 2001; Chiu, 2002) and researchers should go beyond from as early as 1955 (Gardner & Levy, 1955; Martineau, 1958; Park,
this in identifying the emotional or intangible brand aspect of a service Jaworski, & Maclnnis, 1986; Patterson, 1999; Spector, 1961; Stern,
(Edvardsson, 2005). Since attitude is not only about cognitive but also Zinkhan, & Jaju, 2001). A review of previous studies reveals that un-
about affective evaluation and behavioral/conative responses (Chiu, derstanding of corporate brand image remains a challenge due to termi-
2002; Edwards, 1990), incorporating both attitude components might nology having been used inconsistently in the past resulting in the
be more useful and provide a more comprehensive meaning when try- confusion and difculties in denition (Davies, 2013; Franzen &
ing to understand corporate brand image particularly in the business Bouwman, 2001; Patterson, 1999; Stern et al., 2001). For example,
school context. This is because new students rely on corporate brand brand, image, association, attributes and personality that, while differ-
image built not only through service or product quality but also through ent conceptually, have been used to describe the same thing (Franzen
more symbolic or affective and emotional type of brand attributes & Bouwman, 2001). In an attempt to clarify corporate brand image
(Franzen & Bouwman, 2001) such as the personality of the corporate and its drivers, this study has sought meaning from three different liter-
brand (or corporate brand character) (Davies & Chun, 2008). Further- atures namely psychology, consumer behavior (consumer psychology)
more, previous studies indicate that in the service-related setting, cus- and corporate branding (when the corporation is viewed as brand).
tomer purchase decisions relied upon external cues of the corporate The next paragraph deals with the rst issue, denition of corporate
brand such as image and positive word-of-mouth (Cronin & Taylor, brand image while the following paragraph discusses its drivers.
1992; Grnroos, 1984). In consumer psychology, understanding of how consumers respond
This paper considers attitudinal components associated with busi- to a brand (positive, favorable perception and willing to commit to pos-
ness schools namely cognitive and affective attributes when analyzing itive word-of-mouth) begins from attitudes (Franzen & Bouwman,
business schools' corporate brand images and students' behavioral 2001). Image is about an attitude to a given brand (Reynolds, 1965). A
responses (providing positive recommendations about the schools classic but very useful attitude model tri-component implies that
based on their experiences). This research thus extends the corporate attitudes consist of the interaction between three components,
brand theoretical framework by integrating both attitudinal compo- namely, cognitive, affective and conative (Rosenberg & Hovland,
nents (cognitive and affective) and investigates their effects jointly on 1960; Schiffman & Kanuk, 2007). Cognitive concerns what we
business school corporate brand image and consumer behavioral re- know about an object; affective refers to how we feel, and conative is
sponse. Incorporating both affective and cognitive brand attributes in how likely we are to act on it upon our knowledge and feelings
an attempt to understand the business school's corporate brand image (Chiu, 2002), also known as behavioral response. The previous debate
may shed light upon clearer strategic corporate brand positioning in among psychologists has concerned whether an attitude should have
this competitive market (Abratt & Kleyn, 2012; Opoku, Abratt, & Pitt, one, two or three components (Chiu, 2002; Zanna & Rempel, 1988).
2006) and subsequently lead to better explanations of consumers' be- For example, (1) attitude can refer to the overall judgments of an object,
havioral responses (Bennett & Ali-Choudhury, 2009; Oliver, 1997). (2) attitude consists of cognitive and affective responses to an object
The objective here is to develop a studentconsumer behavioral re- and (3) attitude is viewed as more effective if it is based on cognition
sponse model based on their experiences with business schools. This (Chiu, 2002; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). The most common approach
leads to three overarching research questions: adopted in consumer brand research was the three component model
(Zanna & Rempel, 1988). In line with this, the current study approaches
(1) What drives the business schools' corporate brand image corporate brand image as an overall attitude judgment of an object (the
(cognitive or/and affective brand attributes)? business school or corporate brand) and this overall attitude judgment
(2) Given the nature of the service process outcome relationship is based/formed through dual attitudinal components (cognitive and
discussed in the past as well as the debate surrounding cognition/ affective brand attributes).
affect hierarchical relationship, do cognitive brand attributes Similarly, in a corporation, institution or company, Stern et al. (2001)
(educational quality here) precede affective brand attributes explain that image about a corporation refers to (1) external world
(the school's character or personality)? perceptions (or impressions that reside in stakeholder minds), which
(3) Do the two attitude components (cognitive and affective) represent gestalt or overall impressions of a brand. Although brand
have a direct or mediating effect on behavioral response (via image can mean many different things: brand association, brand atti-
corporate brand image and satisfaction)? tude, global total impression of memory and symbolic meaning of a
brand (such as using human/personality traits), it has been commonly
The remainder of the paper is organized as follows: First, a brief re- associated with the global total impression related to the brand is stored
view of cognitive and affective brand attributes with regards to HEIs in memory and which is shared by members of a culture or subculture
in general and in particular within business schools is carried out. A sys- (Franzen & Bouwman, 2001). Therefore, construing an overall image
tematic review of past studies on what forms business schools' corpo- of an organization is a result of a process which entails understanding
rate brand images and their effect on behavioral responses is then of a mental map (MacInnis & Price, 1987) and such a map is shaped in
discussed. This is followed by the research methodology. Third, the re- several ways via ideas, feelings, and previous experience with an orga-
sults of the study are presented and analyzed, followed by discussion, nization that are retrieved from memory and transformed into an over-
conclusions and research implications. Finally, limitations and sugges- all mental map (Yuille & Catchpole, 1977). Institutional refers to the
tions for further research are highlighted. overall impression in the minds of the public, stakeholders and
2326 S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336

constituencies about an organization (Barich & Kotler, 1991; Nguyen & image by using only product and service quality is more cognitively ori-
LeBlanc, 2001). Thus, both brand and corporate image can be dened ented and omits affective and emotional attributes (Brady & Cronin,
in similar ways (they both belong to an attitude concept) which is (1) 2001; Edvardsson, 2005; Grnroos, 1984; Johnson & Grayson, 2005;
seen as overall attitude or judgment about the brand; and (2) driven Oliver, 1997). In order to increase brand differentiation and image,
by both cognitive and affective brand attributes. Notably the main dif- Pitman (2000) stressed that in higher education; customer service
ferences between the two are that brand image has a greater product should move beyond mere service transactions and take on a wider
and consumer focus (Balmer & Gray, 2003), whereas corporate image focus. Biel (1991) explains that consumers are faced with many brands,
focuses more on the corporation as a brand and its stakeholders includ- all of which make functional promises. Lambin (1997) adds that it is dif-
ing consumers (Balmer & Gray, 2003). cult to sustain functional advantages with the advances in technology,
Thus, in line with previous denitions, corporate brand image in this a fact which, according to De Chernatony and Dall'Olmo Riley (1998), is
study refers to consumer/student overall attitudes and impressions due to most brands competing in the same category having become
from their experiences with the business school. For example, overall more functionally similar. Thus, in order to differentiate brands,
attitude evaluation could be in terms of judging a business school to McEnally and de Chernatony (1999) point out that the marketer should
have good image, having a good impression and/or a better image focus on incorporating emotional values into their brands, portraying
than competitors. these through the use of metaphor in creating brand personality. The
resource-based view (RBV) further states that sustainable competitive
advantage is created primarily from intangible capabilities, including
2.2. Drivers of corporate brand image: Cognitive and affective brand
brands and reputation (Omar, Williams, & Lingelbach, 2009). Abratt
attributes
and Kleyn (2012) argue that strong brands and reputations need to be
rare and difcult if not impossible to imitate and consumers are also
The drivers of overall attitude judgment (corporate brand image) of
evaluating organizational values, not just their products or services
business schools are likely to be based upon cognitive and affective
(Balmer & Gray, 2003).
brand attributes. Overall attitude judgment is about any brand attribute
Cognitive brand attribute here is dened based on the service quality
linked to memory (Aaker, 1991) and there are related cognitive and af-
of business schools (Brady & Cronin, 2001; Chiu, 2002) due to the fact
fective brand attributes about corporations. For example, Brown (1998,
that most literature in this context focuses on the services aspect of
p.217) dened corporate association as
HEIs (see C-L-Ng & Forbes, 2009; Holdford & Reinders, 2001; Maringe,
cognition, affect evaluations (that consumers attach to specic 2006; Petruzzellis et al., 2006; Price et al., 2003; Voss et al., 2007). Affec-
cognitions or affects) summary evaluations and patterns of associa- tive brand attribute on the other hand is dened based on intangible
tions (e.g., schemata, scripts) with respect to a particular company. and emotional criteria such as the personality attributes/traits of a cor-
poration (Azoulay & Kapferer, 2003; Davies, 2013; Davies et al., 2004;
These attributes could be derived from several sources namely direct Keller & Richey, 2006; Slaughter, Zickar, Highhouse, & Mohr, 2004).
brand experience, exposure to marketing stimuli/advertising, observa- Azoulay and Kapferer (2003) explain that personality traits concept is
tions from other, and more importantly, in the service setting such as in coined from the psychology area and is clearly different from cognitive
business schools, from normative belief (other peoples beliefs beliefs/ aspects and measured by human traits. Opoku et al. (2006), Davies et al.
judgments that are made up based on these people's experiences e.g., par- (2004) and Davies (2013) further argue that personality scales are
ents, spouse, friends, teachers) (Peter & Olsen, 2008). Similarly, scholars largely affective and attitude type of measures. Jointly, they both repre-
have stressed the importance of both the cognitive and affective aspects sent a sum of various corporate attributes which can be grouped into
in consumer behavior and branding preferences (Agarwal & Malhotra, cognitive brand attributes (the service and perceived educational qual-
2005; Da Silva & Syed Alwi, 2008; Grimm, 2005). However, the use of ity) and the sum of values or personality representing the organization
both attitudinal components to facilitate understanding at the corporate (represent a more emotional and affective concept) (Davies, 2013;
brand level is limited (Anisimova, 2007). Davies et al., 2004; Franzen & Bouwman, 2001; Opoku et al., 2006).
A review of the literature reveals that a cognitive-type evaluation Thus, a potential student or parent may evaluate their decisions
(using service or educational quality) is commonly used in educational from normative belief (i.e. other people's belief - a form of external
brand image studies rather than a more affective and emotional basis cue). That is, from experienced students of the business school who
(such as using corporate brand character/personality) (Davies, Chun, would possibly will be maximizing their recommendations after having
Da Silva, & Roper, 2004; Opoku et al., 2006). Linking products and ser- been satised with the school's services both cognitively and emotion-
vices to emotional attributes (corporate characteristics such as sincerity, ally, and may positively recommend it to prospective students', rela-
trustworthiness), also known in several studies as the sum of values tives, families or friends (Bennett & Ali-Choudhury, 2009). Previous
representing the organization, is vital to enhance a brand's corporate research has clearly identied that in a service-related setting, cus-
image (Azoulay & Kapferer, 2003; Davies et al., 2004; Patterson, tomers rely on external cues of corporate brands such as image and pos-
1999). Likewise, Davies, Chun, Da Silva, and Roper (2003) and Keller itive word-of-mouth (Cronin & Taylor, 1992; Davies & Chun, 2008;
and Richey (2006) point out that a corporation can be branded, Grnroos, 1984).
represented by a sum of values and has its own character and corporate The current study regards business schools as a type of service. That
personality. Balmer (2009) explains that corporate brand refers to is, consumers may evaluate and make positive recommendations about
stakeholder's image and reputation of the rm and is derived from a a school (corporate brand image) through the sum of brand values at-
particular corporate identity at one point in time through corporate tached to the name or any related corporate brand activities based on
brand values which are a synthesis of key values inherent within the their experiences as well as others (Anisimova, 2007; Curtis et al.,
identity. Additionally, institution image is also a reection of identity 2009; Davies & Chun, 2008; Davies et al., 2004). Hence, cognitive and af-
(Argenti, 2000). fective brand attributes (jointly) drive corporate brand image. In line
Although product and educational quality is an important type of with Goldsmith, Lafferty, and Newell (2000) and Davies et al. (2003),
functional quality and is a must have brand attribute for every business these brand attributes are perceptions held by stakeholders based
school or university (see Price et al. (2003); Voss et al. (2007)), an on accumulated experiences with an organization. Therefore, based
institution's image is about both two components: functional, related on these denitions and derived from the extant theory, the hypotheses
to tangibles such as product or service offered; and emotional, which are:
is the psychological dimension manifest in feelings and attitudes toward
an institution (Nguyen & LeBlanc, 2001). Measuring corporate brand H1a. Cognitive brand attributes drive corporate brand image.
S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336 2327

H1b. Affective brand attributes drive corporate brand image. important as the award of a degree offers a life-long association with a
university and may provide a sense of identication with corporate
brand, a means of dening self (Balmer & Liao, 2007; Curtis et al.,
2.3. The causality effect of cognitive brand attribute on affective brand 2009). In the long term, students may develop a sense of belonging
attributes to their university seen as their alma mater, and be proud to be
associated with the corporate brand (Curtis et al., 2009). They
Several studies have attempted to understand the interaction be- should then offer positive word-of-mouth to colleagues, prospective
tween the cognitive and affective aspects of brands in the past, how- students' parents, subordinates or whoever may seek advice when
ever, the hierarchical structure or causality between both elements pursuing their studies. Ultimately, graduands should evaluate
remains unresolved and debatable (Agarwal & Malhotra, 2005; Da their university as a good, respected and admired institution (over-
Silva & Syed Alwi, 2008; Franzen & Bouwman, 2001; Lin, 2004; all attitude evaluation-corporate brand image) (Bennett & Ali-
Malhotra, 2005). According to Oliver (1997) and Franzen and Choudhury, 2009; Palacio, Meneses, & Prez, 2002). This is followed
Bouwman (2001), and in consumption and satisfaction studies, by satisfaction (feelings such as afnity, happiness or pleased to be
there could be several possibilities of sequence between cognition associated with the school), (Chun & Davies, 2006; Davies et al.,
and emotion. For example, emotion can appear rst and cognition 2004) and loyalty (e.g., positive word-of-mouth about the school).
second or vice-versa. In other words, there could be dual processing. But Thus, behavioral outcome of experienced students in the business
most past discussion of corporate branding, consumer behavior and psy- schools can be represented by:
chology infer that the affective and emotional elements usually stem from
cognitive evaluation (Franzen & Bouwman, 2001; Oliver, 1997). In other (1) Satisfaction (the affective response such as feeling afnity, happy
words, cognitive process could have taken place rst which then leads or pleased with the school), (Davies et al., 2003; Roper, 2004).
to emotional or affect reaction. This in turn may lead to an overall evalu- (2) Loyalty (for example, engaging in favorable word-of-mouth re-
ation and thus lead to behavior intention (loyalty) and subsequently, garding the school or maximize recommendations where the
actual behavior. university or school is concerned (Bennett & Ali-Choudhury,
Likewise, De Chernatony (2002) explained that brand is a cluster of 2009)), remembering that not all business schools have a natural
rational and emotional values that enable stakeholders to recognize a association with an umbrella institution (i.e., the French grande
promise about a unique and welcome experience and consumers will ecoles).
generally assess a corporate brand in a hierarchical sequence with the Consistently, satisfaction as the affective outcome (Oliver, 1997), is
rational values rst, then proceed to a higher level the emotional viewed as a pleasurable level of consumption related fulllment
values. This progression represents a hierarchical structure in a (Oliver, 1997), and is a result of consumer reactions evaluated through
consumer's brand knowledge (Anisimova, 2007; Da Silva & Syed Alwi, their experience over time (Davies et al., 2003; Roper, 2004). Loyalty re-
2008; De Chernatony & Christodoulides, 2004). Additionally, Ind fers to behavioral intention of students as the dependent variable can
(2001) and De Chernatony (2002) explain that, when choosing a produce higher validity, as this is more related to the actual behaviors
brand, consumers initially are concerned with the functional values of and has richer diagnostic value than overall service quality (Zeithaml,
the product or company. Berry, & Parasuraman, 1996).
Similarly, in the service related domain, Grnroos (1990) sug-
gests there are three groups of quality dimensions: technical quali- 2.4.1. Cognitive brand attribute, satisfaction and loyalty
ty; functional quality and corporate image when evaluating brands In the past, customer satisfaction or service quality has been demon-
in a service-related context such as business schools. The sequence strated to affect or drive store loyalty, positive word-of-mouth, or repur-
of attributes can be seen as an attitude resulting from student chase intention (Cronin & Taylor, 1992; Davies et al., 2003) across a
perceptions of school performance regarding the service process range of consumer products (LaBarbera & Mazursky, 1983). Product/
(functional quality) and service outcome (technical quality) service performance was found to directly affect satisfaction and loyalty
(Fjortoft & Lee, 1994; Holdford & Reinders, 2001). Explicitly, in (Shaffer & Sherrell, 1997) and Martineau (1958) stated that if an
corporate brand image studies the functional attributes might be individual has a favorable image of, for an example a retail store, they
appropriately seen as causes of affective reactions (Keller, 2003) will probably develop a degree of loyalty corresponding to image
and the product/service-related characteristics (cognitive elements) favorability.
could be the primary drivers of brand personality (Aaker, 1996). Grimm (2005) investigates the relative importance and interaction
Thus, the study posits that: effect within attitude components (i.e., cognitive, affective and
H1c. Cognitive brand attribute will have an effect on affective brand conative-behavior intention) in relation to the ability of each to predict
attribute. brand preferences and found that cognitive brand attributes had the
most impact on brand preference. Recent empirical research on corpo-
rate or institutional brands suggest that institutional brand loyalty (or
2.4. Behavioral outcome of corporate brand image: Satisfaction and loyalty students' intention to pursue or say positive things about the school)
(positive word-of-mouth) also depends on not only the functional brand aspect of the school
(such as the service or educational quality), but also the emotional
Building corporate brand image and reputation in business schools is aspect of the institutions (Supphellen & Nysveen, 2001). Likewise,
imperative because (1) repurchase intention may not be the best mea- Anisimova (2007) and Selnes (1993) found that corporate brand attri-
sure in a higher education context and (2) students cannot be treated bute or (product) performance quality had an effect on loyalty via satis-
directly as customer equivalents (Argenti, 2000; Davies & Chun, 2008; faction (in Anisimova, 2007's study) and brand reputation (in Selnes,
Hemsley-Brown & Goonawardana, 2007). In this context, students are 1993's study). Thus:
rigorous in selecting business schools due to the desire to meet their
own expectation (student-congruent effect) of the business school H2a. Cognitive brand attribute will have an effect on loyalty via satis-
(Belanger, Mount, & Wilson, 2002; Davies & Chun, 2008). Students faction (indirect effect).
have their own expectation and personality, hence to ensure compati-
bility between student and school, students tend to select a more pres- H2b. Cognitive brand attribute will have a direct effect on satisfaction.
tigious HEI (with strong corporate brand image) if they can (Belanger
et al., 2002). Additionally, image and reputation of the school is H2c. Cognitive brand attribute will have a direct effect on loyalty.
2328 S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336

2.4.2. Affective brand attribute, satisfaction and loyalty more values because consumers buy due to the perceived values of
Batra, Donald, and Dipinder (1993) explain that personality traits the brand and organizational values and in particular, students are be-
are normally associated with a brand in an indirect way, for instance, coming more critical and analytical when choosing educational institu-
through product-related attributes, product category association, tions (Binsardi & Ekwulugo, 2003, p. 320).
brand name, symbol or logo, advertising style, price and distribution Similarly, in related studies, Davies and Chun (2002) discover
channels. Davies and Chun (2002) discover that when personality traits that corporate brand image mediates between customer satisfaction
are used to portray corporate brand image, it has an effect on loyalty via and brand loyalty; Merrilees and Fry (2002) demonstrate in con-
satisfaction. Prestigious universities report that higher retention rates of trast, that corporate brand image has a direct effect on brand loyalty
students are partly due to a more rigorous selection process by the stu- when brand attributes are used in an online setting. Selnes (1993)
dents due expectations (student-congruent effect) of the business conrms that when the experiences of consumers are studied cus-
school (Belanger et al., 2002). Davies and Chun (2008) also explain tomer satisfaction directly affected brand loyalty. Therefore, the cor-
that students have a more direct and powerful inuence on school's cul- porate brand equity of a business school from a student perspective
ture and identity. Thus, measuring the students' perspectives (through appears to rest upon cognitive, affective brand attributes and behav-
corporate brand image) will enhance studentconsumer congruence af- ioral outcome corporate brand image (overall attitude evaluation),
fect (Belanger et al., 2002). satisfaction (e.g., happy, pleased and afnity with the school) and
Selnes (1993) nds that when an institutional brand reputation is loyalty (e.g., recommending the school to others). Hence, we hy-
controlled, it has a strong positive direct effect on brand loyalty and pothesize that:
this nding is consistent throughout the four companies investigated
in that study. Davies and Chun (2008) nd that loyalty and corporate H4a. Corporate brand image will have an effect on loyalty via satisfac-
personality (an affective-dened construct) appear to have an indirect tion (indirect effect).
positive effect via satisfaction (when personality traits are used to por- H4b. Corporate brand image will have a direct effect on loyalty.
tray company image in department retail stores (Davies & Chun,
2002)) and Selnes (1993) conrms this mediating role in a College set- H4c. Corporate brand image will have a direct effect on satisfaction.
ting. Thus, the relationships between affective brand attribute, satisfac-
H4d. Satisfaction will have a direct effect on loyalty.
tion and loyalty are hypothesized as follows:
The following model (in Fig. 1) diagrammatically explains the theo-
H3a. Affective brand attribute will have an effect on loyalty via satisfac-
retical propositions for the current study:
tion (indirect effect).

H3b. Affective brand attribute will have a direct effect on satisfaction.


3. Methodology
H3c. Affective brand attribute will have a direct effect on loyalty.
3.1. The study's context and data collection

2.4.3. Corporate brand image, satisfaction and loyalty The study's context is public sector business schools or public uni-
Souiden, Kassim, and Hong (2006) nd that positive evaluation of versities that have a business and/or management school/faculty in
corporate image inuences consumer patronage in the automobile con- Malaysia and were selected for several reasons. First, the business
text. Evidently corporate image exerts a positive inuence on consumer schools are growing in high-growth economies in developing markets
satisfaction and loyalty (Anisimova, 2007; Davies et al., 2004) particu- from the Middle-east to the Asian region (i.e., China, Hong Kong and
larly in educational institutions (Curtis et al., 2009; Davies et al., 2004; Malaysia) (Gray, Fam, & Llanes, 2003; Hawawini, 2005). For example,
Nguyen & LeBlanc, 2001). By seeking a strong corporate image and rep- the Malaysian higher education sector has recently undergone substan-
utation across different stakeholders it is necessary to foster and handle tial growth as a result of efforts taken by the Ministry of Higher Educa-
expectations not only from students but also parents or educational tion (MOHE) to expand the education industry. It is the government's
agencies and government (Curtis et al., 2009). For example, due to dif- long-term goal to make Malaysia a regional center of excellence in edu-
cult long-term student retention in the educational context (as repur- cation. The growth of higher education in Malaysia can be seen in sever-
chase is not the case in this setting), marketing efforts should not only al areas: increase in student enrollments, increase in number of higher
be directed to students but also to the entire range of stakeholders education institutions (HEIs), additional government policies in pro-
(Binsardi & Ekwulugo, 2003). Besides, business schools spend a consid- moting education and the country's continuous need for human re-
erable amount of money on advertising MBA and other offerings in rep- sources. Besides, research from a different context is needed as most
utable media such as The Economist or Financial Times (Opoku et al., prior business school researches are skewed toward Western schools
2006) because of the belief that a sound brand can be communicated (Antunes & Thomas, 2007). As Balmer and Liao (2007) further explain,
well to target markets, differentiated in order to charge a premium corporate brand differs geographically, as the degree of importance
price, attract customers and sustain loyalty (Opoku et al., 2006). Stu- attached to corporate branding varies as much between countries as it
dents and parents spend a great deal of time evaluating HEIs or business does between institutions.
schools before making entry decisions. This has led many business In order to test the study's conceptual model, a pilot study was rst
schools to communicate their offerings via additional activities such as conducted to test the appropriateness, validity and freedom from error
Open Days and boot camps in seeking to elicit positive responses and of the measures developed. After the pilot or validation process, the
evaluations (good experience and positive image) that inuence nal main data set was then collected through a self-administered question-
decision choices. During these events, students will also share their cog- naire from four public universities or business schools in the country. To
nitive and affective experiences relating to the school, which could thus maintain anonymity of the schools, they are labelled as Schools A, B, C
help to maximize recommendation to the prospective students/parents. and D respectively. Permission was granted from both the MOHE and
Corporate brand image is likely to impact on student willingness to the deans of the business schools/faculties to administer the survey to
apply or enroll with the school or university (Bennett & Ali- MBA students during class sessions. Students were briefed and ques-
Choudhury, 2009), so establishing these images in the eyes of the stake- tionnaires distributed during break time or shortly after class com-
holders is important (Ivy, 2001). Thus branding in HEIs/schools aids stu- mencement. As an MBA is generally associated with business schools
dents and parents to identify particular services offered and encourages (Antunes & Thomas, 2007), core MBA modules were targeted in the
purchase (Curtis et al., 2009). Knox (2004) stresses the need to build four schools to maximize participation and response since most of
S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336 2329

Corporate brand
Cognive brand image
aribute

Sasfacon

Aecve brand
aribute

Loyalty

Fig. 1. Proposed theoretical model.

these schools offered similar programs. Data was collected over a Behavioral response represents two concepts (1) Satisfaction and
3-month period. (2) Loyalty. Satisfaction concerns affective/emotional response to expe-
The total samples for all four schools are 558. This includes 261 male riences provided by, or associated with particular products or services
and 292 female respondents (plus ve other missing answers to the purchased (Davies & Chun, 2002; Oliver, 1997). Because the study's in-
gender question), which comprised 261 from School A; 137 from School tention concerns maximizing positive recommendations, the experi-
B, 85 from School C and 75 from School D. The distributions are in line ences of existing students are utilized. This approach is common in
with the MBA population of each school. The distribution according previous brand image studies because brand attributes (cognitive and
to ethnic group was 48% Malay, 30.1% Chinese, 11.3% Indian, and affective) are perceptions held by stakeholders based on accumulated
10.6% others. This correlates approximately with the proportion of experiences with an organization (Davies et al., 2003; Goldsmith et al.,
Malaysian ethnic groups (Population, & Housing Census, Malaysia, 2000). Roper (2004) suggests that assessment over time will ensure a
2010). The average age of sample respondents was: 3034 years truer representation and more accurate reection of satisfaction with
(29%) and 2529 years old (36%) and 35% outside those parameters. an organization. Thus, respondents were at least 3 months into their
Respondents were mainly 2534, and this tends to be a requirement courses in their rst year. In particular, two different studies were
before they can enroll on an MBA program and just short of 50% of the accessed to help determine the multi-item satisfaction measures. A
sample had between 3 and 5 years of working experience, while more 4-item measure has been adopted from Davies and Chun (2002), and
than half held or had held a middle or senior management position. Fi- another 2 items from Oliver (1997). Finally, loyalty is concerned with fa-
nally, almost 80% of the respondents were in either the second semester vorable attitude toward a brand resulting in consistent purchase of the
of their rst year, or in the second year of their MBA when data was brand over time (Bennett & Ali-Choudhury, 2009, p. 90; Zeithaml et al.,
collected which corresponds to the program duration 2 years. The 1996) and involves a 6-item measure developed from Zeithaml et al.
remaining 20% are possibly part-time students as they are allowed up (1996). Zeithaml et al. (1996) capture previous conceptualizations of be-
to the fourth year to complete research projects. Finally, more than havioral intention such as: students expressing a preference for their
65% of these students were self-funded. The Appendix provides further school over others; recommending the store or its services; and loyalty
detail on the sample frame. concerning their school with regard to fees/price. All respondents were
asked to indicate their level of agreement using ve-point Likert scales.
3.2. The survey measures
4. Data analysis and hypotheses testing
There are ve main constructs under study here: (1) Cognitive brand
attribute, (2) Affective brand attribute, (3) Corporate brand image, (4) The study followed a measure validation procedure through a two-
Satisfaction; and (5) Loyalty. The literature was extensively consulted step SEM approach namely the measurement model and structural
for the purpose of generating the items measured for these constructs. model (Anderson & Gerbing, 1988). The analysis was run using AMOS
Cognitive brand attribute was conceptualized earlier as comprising 18 using the default method Maximum Likelihood (ML). Step one
functional/quality attributes from processes of the schools' service deals with the measurement model's validity and reliability and step
aspects such as administration and general factors, teaching staff, two deals with nomological validity (hypotheses testing) of the pro-
communication, physical facilities and innovativeness. Measures were posed theoretical model. Cognitive and affective brand attributes follow
developed from Holdford and Reinders (2001) and VidaverCohen the rst and second order of conrmatory factor analysis (CFA) (Byrne,
(2007). Affective brand attribute was dened as an affective and emo- 2001) in order to identify which dimensions represent both constructs.
tional construct, representing the outcome of service processes (techni- Since the underlying factor structure of both cognitive brands attributes
cal quality) according to Grnroos (1990). This was consistent with (educational and service quality) and affective brand attributes (corpo-
those other academics (i.e., Davies et al., 2003; Franzen & Bouwman, rate character scale) have been specied a priori (e.g., Holdford &
2001) that saw the institutional, company or corporate brand image Reinders, 2001; Vidaver-Cohen, 2007; Davies et al., 2004 respectively),
or brand personality variable as more about the intangible or affective CFA is more appropriate than EFA (Byrne, 2001). Using a rst and sec-
and emotional side of the brand rather than its functional or tangible as- ond order model can also determine which dimensions make up the
pects. Measures were adopted from Davies et al. (2003) namely the second order constructs, namely cognitive and affective brand attribute
Corporate Character Scale. Corporate brand image represents overall through the structural relationships between the dimensions (Byrne,
attitude judgment (Franzen & Bouwman, 2001) and consists of three 2001; Garver & Mentzer, 1999; Hair, Black, Babin, & Anderson, 2010).
items based on previous conceptualizations, in particular Nguyen and The analysis then proceeds to Step Two Approach known as the struc-
LeBlanc (2001). tural full model.
2330 S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336

4.1. Step-one: The measurement model among the constructs is also acceptably low ranging from .59 to .78,
and AVE = N.5 (Fornell & Larcker, 1981), except for two constructs
Before step-one is performed, both rst and second order models (see Table 1), the lecturer and administration/school that have an AVE
were rened in order to establish which dimensions represent the la- of .46 and .49 respectively (see Table 1). A further test to ensure the ad-
tent constructs for both cognitive and affective brand attributes. Mists equacy of discriminant validity was performed by comparing all the
in the models involving items that were cross-loaded on more than one AVE estimates with the square pairwise correlation between factors
dimension were relaxed one at a time as proposed by Long (1983) and and cross-loadings examinations among the measured variables and
non-signicant parameters were excluded from the study. Besides error terms (Hair et al., 2010). The result indicates that discriminant va-
relaxing parameters, removing or adding parameters from one dimen- lidity is conrmed for all latent constructs since the square root of each
sion to another, where there was high cross-loading was also per- construct's AVE's are all greater than the bivariate correlations (coef-
formed based on theoretical, statistical and practical considerations cients ranges from .45 to .66, p b .001). Cross loadings between both
(Bagozzi & Heatherton, 1994). For example leading item, was original- measured and error terms also do not suffer from a substantial cross-
ly from a drive facet in the Competence dimension however heavily loadings with standardized residuals all b .258 (Garver & Mentzer,
cross-loaded in the Chic dimension (with prestigious). Removing it indi- 1999; Steenkamp & van Trijp, 1991). Thus, the assessment results sup-
cates a wrong move with a poor t and theoretically, leading and presti- port the adequacy of discriminant validity of the measurement model.
gious have been frequently associated as brand values or brand identity All direct effects were tested and provide signicant positive effects
in education institutions (Opoku et al., 2006). Thus, leading was moved (H1aH4d) except two parameters: H4b (the effect of corporate brand
to Chic which is named as prestigious dimension based on the current image on loyalty) and H2c (the effect of cognitive brand attribute on
nding. loyalty) thus, both H2c and H4b were rejected. Both cognitive and affec-
The nal result indicates ve dimensions representing cognitive brand tive brand attributes however were statistically signicant explaining
attribute: (1) the school/administration, (2) innovative method (3) com- the corporate brand image with affective brand attribute having the
munication (4) lecturer and (5) the physical facility. Both models achieve most effect ( = .56, p = .000 and = .38, p = .000, respectively). Cor-
good statistics, viz rst order: (2(199) = 528.69, 2/df = 2.6; GFI = .923; porate brand image interestingly does not directly affect loyalty ( =
TLI = .936; CFI = .945; RMSEA = .055) and second order: (2(204) = .04, p = .56), but is mediated through satisfaction ( = .53, p =
571.17, 2/df = 2.8); GFI = .916; TLI = .931; CFI = .938; RMSEA = .000). Cognitive brand attribute, although found to be nonsignicant
.057. on loyalty ( = .06, p = .204) does explains affective brand attribute, cor-
Affective brand attributes on the other hand are represented by four porate brand image and satisfaction ( = .76, p = .000, = .38, p =
dimensions: (1) empathy, part of agreeableness dimension, (2) adven- .000; = .22, p = .001 respectively).
turous, part of an enterprise, (3) competence and (4) prestigious To establish the mediation effects (H2a, H3a and H4a) as conceptual-
(known as chic in other study). Goodness-of-t statistics show that ized earlier, all signicant parameters were tested using guidelines from:
both rst and second order model (2(145) = 430.44, 2/df = 2.8); (1) Kelloway, 1995 for partial or full mediation conditions; (2) Zhao,
(GFI = .922; TLI = .951; CFI = .958; RMSEA = .058) and (2(147) = Lynch, and Chen (2010) for indirect or direct effect conditions; and (3)
444.07, 2/df = 2.9); (GFI = .919; TLI = .950; CFI = .957; RMSEA = SEM's standardized indirect effect output. First, cognitive brand attribute
.059) respectively t the data well. showed a full mediation on loyalty (via affective brand attribute and sat-
When comparing both the rst-order and second-order model re- isfaction) as only the indirect paths were signicant (Zhao et al., 2010).
sults, both perform similarly where the second-order model produced For example cognitive brand attribute affective brand attribute sat-
near identical results to the rst-order model. However, a decision isfaction loyalty ( = .76, p = .000 and = .14, p = .001), while in-
was made to select second order for further analysis (hypotheses test- signicant, was found on the direct path between cognitive brand
ing) for both constructs based on (1) the a priori status of both scales attribute loyalty ( = .06, p = .296). A similar situation was found
theoretically (Davies et al., 2003; Holdford & Reinders, 2001); (2) statis- on corporate brand image loyalty (with = .04, p = .592), while sig-
tically (construct validity), that is when models are acceptable, both nicant on the direct path between affective brand attribute loyalty
could be used for further analysis (Wolnbarger & Gilly, 2003) and (3) ( = .14, p = .001) and corporate brand image satisfaction loyalty
second order would allow a stronger statement: while there may be ( = .53, p = .000 and = .76, p =.000).
some overlap between the dimensions of corporate brand image and Full mediation thus occurred on two parameters namely, cognitive
corporate brand attribute, the dimensions are to some extent distinct brand attribute and corporate brand image. That is, (1) cognitive
from each other (Hair et al., 2010). As indicated in Fig. 2, the structural brand attribute will affect loyalty only via affective brand attribute
relationships (or factor loadings) covary from one dimension to another and satisfaction and (2) corporate brand image will affect loyalty only
when they were tested in a higher/second order form. Finally, all items via satisfaction. On the other hand, affective brand attribute could
that represent the ve constructs were then tested in step-one have both effects, direct and indirect (via corporate brand image and
measurement model. The full measurement model ts the data well satisfaction) on loyalty. Additionally, Zhao et al. (2010) emphasized
(2(1060) = 2396, 2/df = 2.2); (GFI = .842; CFI = .921; TLI: .921; that to determine the mediation, whether via regression or SEM, only
RMSEA = .048) (Fig. 2). the indirect effects need to be signicant (i.e., a b is signicant and
c being nonsignicant) and a full mediation occurs when the beta coef-
4.2. Step-two: The full model cient is nearing zero or nonsignicant concerning the direct effect be-
tween X and Y when m (mediation) is introduced. Second, the
The concern in the step-two approach is to test the study's theoret- magnitude of the indirect effect is given by the product of the standard-
ical models (as presented in Fig. 1) as well as the objectives and hypoth- ized coefcients of the paths linking the two variables (Bentler, 1995).
eses. The summary of the full model result with all direct and indirect Table 2 summarizes the hypotheses results, the direct and indirect pa-
effects is reported in Fig. 3 below. The step-two model indicates an ac- rameter estimates.
ceptable t (2(1107) = 2445.37, 2/df = 2.2; GFI = .841; TLI = .924;
CFI = .923; RMSEA = .047), with no deletion of items. Convergent va- 5. Discussion
lidity was all supported in this study with all parameter estimates N .5,
(Kline, 1998), and all items were statistically signicant at p b .001 5.1. Theoretical implication
(Anderson & Gerbing, 1988). Constructs reliability was tested using
both composite and Cronbach's alpha and they were all above the rec- Theoretically, the study contributes to the existing literature in ve
ommended level, as shown in Table 1. The correlation (covariance) different ways. First, the study claries which attitude components are
S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336 2331

Note: * indicates all loadings are significant at p<.001

Fig. 2. SEM: The measurement model. Note: * indicates all loadings are signicant at p b .001.

signicant (cognitive or affective) when describing corporate brand dimension approach only explains the partial impact (Anisimova,
image. The research extends the corporate brand theoretical framework 2007), examining both constructs here helps to clarify a school's corpo-
by integrating two important attitude elements and has investigated rate brand promises (Anisimova, 2007; Curtis et al., 2009), which can
their effects simultaneously on business schools' corporate brand im- lead to clearer strategic corporate brand positioning (Abratt & Kleyn,
ages and consumer behavioral responses. While the previous single 2012; Opoku et al., 2006). A key nding in this paper is that both
2332 S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336

Note: * indicates all loadings are significant at p<.001; N.S. indicates Not Significant

Fig. 3. SEM: The structural model. Note: * indicates all loadings are signicant at p b .001; N.S. indicates not signicant.

Table 1 attitude components appear to be equally important in shaping corpo-


Composite reliability, Cronbach's alpha and AVE. rate brand image, however, and most interestingly, the affective brand
Constructs Composite reliability Cronbach's alpha AVE attribute appears to explain more. So, although cognitive brand attribute
Corporate brand attribute:
is important for the service process, it is not a necessary condition for
Physical facility 0.89 0.93 0.66 behavioral responses due to the insignicant relationship found. The af-
Communication 0.81 0.84 0.52 fective construct on the other hand, which represents the school's charac-
School/administration 0.82 0.81 0.49 ter and associated with corporate brand values has the most effect ( =
Lecturer 0.82 0.80 0.46
.56, p b .001) compared to cognitive brand attribute ( = .38, p b .001)
Innovative method 0.86 0.84 0.67
and it is also directly related to behavioral response. Davies (2013)
Corporate brand image: explains that personality traits are useful evaluative criteria when
Adventurous 0.77 0.76 0.53
predicting brand, image, personality or reputation of a rm. Likewise, as
Empathy 0.90 0.90 0.65
Competence 0.82 0.80 0.53 Davies et al. (2003) explains, using an organisation's character (through
Prestigious 0.86 0.85 0.55 these personality values) is one of the main sources of differentiation
Overall corporate image 0.84 0.83 0.63 and brand strength.
Satisfaction 0.86 0.85 0.61 Second, this study identies specic dimensions that can be impor-
Loyalty 0.92 0.91 0.79
tant for business schools' strategic positioning from both elements
S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336 2333

Table 2
Hypotheses summary.

Constructs/hypotheses Direct path P Indirect path estimates Hypothesis result


(Testing direct and indirect effects) estimates

H1a cognitive brand attribute corporate brand image .38 .000 Supported
H1b affective brand attribute corporate brand image .56 .000 Supported
H1c cognitive brand attribute affective brand attribute .76 .000 Supported
H2a cognitive brand attribute satisfaction loyalty .06 .296 Path 1: = .22, p = .000 and Path 2: Support H2a,
H2c cognitive brand attribute loyalty = .76, p = .000 reject H2c
Note: Full mediation as only indirect path is signicant (Zhao et al., 2010)
H2b Cognitive brand attribute satisfaction .22 .001 Supported
H3a affective brand attribute satisfaction loyalty (indirect effect) .76 .000 Path 1: = .18, p = .000 vs. Path 2: Supported
Note: Complimentary (or partially) mediated occurs as both direct and indirect paths are = .76, p = .000
signicant (Zhao et al., 2010)
H3b Affective brand attribute satisfaction .18 .000 Supported
H3c Affective brand attribute loyalty .14 .002 Supported
H4a corporate brand image satisfaction loyalty (indirect effect) .04 .592 Path 1: = .53, p = .000 vs. Path 2: Support H4a,
H4b corporate brand image loyalty = .76, p = .000 reject 4b
Note: Full mediation occur as only indirect path is signicant (Zhao et al., 2010)
H4c corporate brand image satisfaction 0.53 .000 Supported
H4d Satisfaction loyalty 0.76 .000 Supported

cognitive and affective brand attributes. Cognitive brand attributes dimensions (Aaker, Benet-Martinez, & Garolera, 2001; Davies et al.,
represent a mixture of service and educational quality dimensions 2003)), the differences were apparent between the current and previ-
such as: (1) the school/administration attribute, with most variance ous research. While Davies et al. (2003) found that the agreeableness
explained (.95). The school/administration is rst associated with and competence dimensions are common traits in most organisations;
developing the vision of the school/university, ensuring accessibility, this study found that enterprise (which is only about adventurous),
indicating the latest developments and possessing the appropriate competence and chic (named as prestigious here) apparently seem
procedure. This is followed by the second criteria innovative method important in explaining the school's corporate brand image. There
(teaching and curriculum) (variance explained .88) in corporate brand are but limited known examinations in the business school context
attributes; third communication (.85) (items such as consistent grading (except Opoku et al., 2006; Davies & Chun, 2008) and this nding
practises, adequate feedback or explanation to students are understood); gives new insights into which affective brand attribute is considered
fourth faculty (.77), and fth the physical facility (.72). Consistently, to be more important in an institutional context to both academics
Gray et al. (2003) explain that when new students evaluate their choice and practitioners, and simultaneously helps to address the issue
decisions especially in the Asia context (i.e., Malaysia, Singapore), the concerning which emotional component to emphasis when designing
university learning environment, excellent faculty, excellent facilities, ac- marketing strategies for business schools. Adventurous represents the
cess to research resources and overall reputation are among the vital creative aspect of an organization, with an image of talented, inge-
factors. nious, quick-witted and resourceful suggested as being common in
Perhaps the most signicant nding of this study is related to the in- companies leading to development of leadership (Davies et al.,
novativeness dimension. This dimension is added in the current study 2003). Opoku et al. (2006) stress that business schools are often asso-
to represent the service process and is found to be useful in explaining ciated with elitist or prestigious attributes since graduated students
the cognitive brand attributes of a business school. Innovativeness con- tend to occupy top positions of prominence within government and
cerns delivery methods and the curriculum offered by the school and business. Thus, the inclusion of affective brand attribute measured
occurs when schools are able to adapt swiftly to change and implement through intangible values (personality traits) is useful in this study's
latest developments in the areas of expertise. Antunes and Thomas context. Keller (2000) explains:
(2007) stress that the main competitive advantage of European busi-
ness schools over their US counterparts are they have developed a rep- the intangible corporate image associations may provide valuable
utation for innovation (innovatory capabilities and learning styles). sources of brand equity and could serve as critical points-of-
Although US business schools are the fast rst-movers in management difference in terms of positioning with respect to competitive offers.
education through product standardization MBA; European business [Keller, 2000, p.124]
schools, although smaller in size, are successful because they have a
more innovative curriculum for example, carry out real-life projects Fourth, the current study integrates the dimensions cognitive and
and assignments that link theory with practical insights either via pro- affect in a model and tests in two different ways namely (1) both affect
jects or problem based learning (Antunes & Thomas, 2007). Arguably, corporate brand image and (2) there is a hierarchical/sequence effect
this is the case in the four public business schools selected here. Most between cognitive and affect brand attributes. The study's framework
of these schools parallel the structures or curriculum of European busi- of hierarchical effect has been drawn from consumer behavior/
ness schools particularly those of the UK due to Malaysia's close associ- brand psychology theories (Agarwal & Malhotra, 2005; Franzen &
ation with that country and collaborative activities via research and Bouwman, 2001; Fridja, 1986; Lazarus, 1991) and from antecedents
curricula. and outcomes of corporate branding (Abratt & Kleyn, 2012;
Third, affective brand attribute is another aspect of the study's con- Anisimova, 2007; Curtis et al., 2009; Da Silva & Syed Alwi, 2008;
tribution represented by four values/dimensions, that is: (1) empathy, Davies et al., 2003; De Chernatony, 2002; Keller, 2003). Although the
part of the agreeableness dimension, (2) adventurous, part of enter- past scholars stress the need to investigate the hierarchical effect on
prise, (3) competence, and (4) prestigious (known as chic in other corporate brands (e.g., Davies et al., 2003; De Chernatony, 2002), the
studies). Although not all of the seven dimensions appeared in this empirical results of testing these theoretical relationships in corporate
context (as different study environments may result in different brand area have been limited with most of the works remaining as
2334 S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336

conceptual or theoretical discussions (Curtis et al., 2009; opinions of a university's brand is translated into positive affective, rep-
Hemsley-Brown & Goonawardana, 2007). One key nding is that affec- utational, and conative consequences thus resources allocated to brand
tive brand attribute is in fact the outcome of cognitive brand attributes building are worthwhile. The growing universality of business ranking
(De Chernatony, 2002; Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). For example, clear com- in many countries ensures that students can easily access information
munication and adequate feedback provided (communication) may relating to quality and prestige factors. Thus, whatever business schools
possibly explain the why the empathy image emerges (trustworthy, can do to raise their brand image and reputation becomes inexorably
concerned and supportive), while clear vision and having the right pro- more important year-by-year. It is not just a matter of communication
cedure (school/administration) may possibly explain how reliable and or promotion, but developing the brand so that it delivers on its
competent the school is (Davies et al., 2003; Vidaver-Cohen, 2007). Sim- promise(s).
ilarly, using innovative teaching methods (innovative) and providing up-
to-date facility/equipment (physical facility) may explain how students
arrive at the corporate brand image as adventurous and prestigious be- 6. Conclusions and future research
cause being innovative is seen in part as being modern and up to date
(Keller, 2000). The study has identied:
Finally, the theoretical model identies that affective brand attri-
bute and satisfaction are two important mediators in explaining behav- (1) The specic corporate brand image attributes of business schools
ioral response (loyalty). While affective brand attribute is highly (cognitively and affectively) and claries corporate brand differ-
explained by cognitive brand attributes (the outcomes of educational entiation and positioning;
and service quality), when the mediating effect is investigated, inter- (2) The theoretical relationships of cognitive and affective brand
estingly, students' behavioral responses (positive word-of-mouth) to attribute relative to corporate brand image;
schools depended largely on the affective component and their happi- (3) The mediator role of affective brand attributes, corporate brand
ness (satisfaction) rather than upon the cognitive element as the direct image and satisfaction on consumer behavioral response (loyalty);
effect to loyalty was surprisingly insignicant. The direct effect be- and
tween overall attitude (corporate brand image) to loyalty was also in- (4) The hierarchical effect between cognitive brand attributes on
signicant in this study suggesting that affective brand attribute is an affective brand attributes.
important part of corporate brand image and plays signicant role in
explaining satisfaction before favorable responses could be offered. Arguably, corporate brand promise is seen through this effect
Thus, both affective brand attributes and satisfaction of students are (point 4) (De Chernatony, 2002) which in turn aids the formation of
vital to ensure favorable responses and investing resources in building corporate identity (Davies & Chun, 2008). Thus, from a conceptual per-
image and reputation for business schools is worthwhile (Bennett & spective, the notion of cognition/emotion sequence conrms that when
Ali-Choudhury, 2009). Similarly, Anisimova (2007) explains that consumers evaluate a business school's corporate brand, a rational
there is no direct link between corporate activities and corporate thought process followed by the affective component is then taken
image association in the consumer's memory but rather an indirect ef- into account, resulting in the brand promise and loyalty. Brand position-
fect was found through corporate image (i.e., enhancing consumer per- ing of HEIs or business schools may not only be based upon ranking
sonal representation such as designing the brand to look more (Corley & Gioia, 2000; Gioia & Corley, 2002) or product, service quality
sophisticated) explaining consumer loyalty in the context of automo- or educational quality (which represent the cognitive elements of the
bile in Australia. Corporate values (e.g., innovation, respect) and corpo- brand) (De Chernatony, 2002) but also on affective elements such as
rate personality (e.g., sporty, trustworthy) have also been found to be corporate brand values and personality (Davies & Chun, 2002, 2008).
important in explaining consumer loyalty (Bennett & Ali-Choudhury, Finally, while cognitive brand attribute is an important construct
2009). when designing business school strategy as it helps to explain the be-
ginning process of a service, however it is the affective brand attributes
5.2. Managerial implications that are more related to both corporate brand image and loyalty. Finally,
both constructs corporate brand image and satisfaction are important
The managerial contributions of the paper lie in the context of de- constructs in business schools as they directly and indirectly link with
ning strategy in relation to positioning business schools in an increas- loyalty.
ingly competitive higher education market. Business school leaders This study is not without limitations. It was conducted in four
should not only be devoted to ranking but also give attention and state-owned business schools/universities, and future research
focus to academic quality issues such as innovation aspect and building could replicate this in private schools/institutions. Cross-validation
corporate brand image. In marketing strategy, the brand value- to other private institutions lies outside the scope of this study.
innovativeness of the school could be enhanced in its message appeal The study has identied attributes of business schools that are
to potential students. The current study shows that these criteria are seen or interpreted as latent for both cognitive and affective attri-
important in designing corporate brand image and thus ways need to butes due to the reective nature of the construct and higher
be found to concretize these attributes. There is, thus, a call for imagina- order rather than at individual levels. Further research is needed
tive ways to stimulate student interest and consequently improve to analyze these dimensions using, for example, a formative ap-
brand reputation. Since brand personality is heavily built by advertising proach to allow a stricter role for individual dimensions of both cog-
(McEnally & de Chernatony, 1999), the design of institutional images nitive and affective brand attributes as well as overall attitude
for business schools may seek to address or emphasize symbolic (corporate brand image).
value (i.e., being creative (adventurous), displaying competence and The study is focused in one Asian country namely Malaysia, given
maintaining a prestigious strategy) more in this context. The way a stu- the growth of its higher education sector. The empirical work could
dent draws an inference about a business school's brand is different be replicated in other countries in order to generalize the results.
from other corporate brand contexts. While the theoretical implica- Finally, cultural related factors are not included in the current theo-
tions of this study are evident as different brand image dimensions retical framework due to the participating samples in this study are
were found in the context of higher education and the effect of the me- also being multi-ethnic groups and partially international. Incorpo-
diating variables corporate brand image and student satisfaction play rating cultural dimensions in the future may be useful in explaining
important roles in ensuring students recommend the business schools brand perceptions, and possible needed adaptation and positioning
in the future. Bennett and Ali-Choudhury (2009) explain that favorable elements.
S.F. Syed Alwi, P.J. Kitchen / Journal of Business Research 67 (2014) 23242336 2335

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Working experience*
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13 years 109 19.5
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35 years 125 22.4 Total Quality Management, 13(2), 265274.
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Student 89 15.9 sion. Journal of Marketing, 56(3), 5568.
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