The definition, theoretical modelling and empirical research of front-line service employee corporate identity within a UK national grocery retailer
: determining the FLE corporate brand identification construct

  • Keith Glanfield

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Over the past forty years the corporate identity literature has developed to a point of maturity where it currently contains many definitions and models of the corporate identity construct at the organisational level. The literature has evolved by developing models of corporate identity or in considering corporate identity in relation to new and developing themes, e.g. corporate social responsibility. It has evolved into a multidisciplinary domain recently incorporating constructs from other literature to further its development.
However, the literature has a number of limitations. It remains that an overarching and universally accepted definition of corporate identity is elusive, potentially leaving the construct with a lack of clear definition. Only a few corporate identity definitions and models, at the corporate level, have been empirically tested. The corporate identity construct is overwhelmingly defined and theoretically constructed at the corporate level, leaving the literature without a detailed understanding of its influence at an individual stakeholder level.
Front-line service employees (FLEs), form a component in a number of corporate identity models developed at the organisational level. FLEs deliver the services of an organisation to its customers, as well as represent the organisation by communicating and transporting its core defining characteristics to customers through continual customer contact and interaction. This person-to-person contact between an FLE and the customer is termed a service encounter, where service encounters influence a customer’s perception of both the service delivered and the associated level of service quality. Therefore this study for the first time defines, theoretically models and empirically tests corporate identity at the individual FLE level, termed FLE corporate identity. The study uses the services marketing literature to characterise an FLE’s operating environment, arriving at five potential dimensions to the FLE corporate identity construct. These are scrutinised against existing corporate identity definitions and
models to arrive at a definition for the construct. In reviewing the corporate identity, services marketing, branding and organisational psychology literature, a theoretical model is developed for FLE corporate identity, which is empirically and quantitatively tested, with FLEs in seven stores of a major national retailer. Following rigorous construct reliability and validity testing, the 601 usable responses are used to estimate a confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation model for the study. The results for the individual hypotheses and the structural model are very encouraging, as they fit the data well and support a definition of FLE corporate identity.
This study makes contributions to the branding, services marketing and organisational psychology literature, but its principal contribution is to extend the corporate identity literature into a new area of discourse and research, that of FLE corporate identity
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHeiner Evanschitzky (Supervisor), John M Rudd (Supervisor) & John A Saunders (Supervisor)


  • corporate identity
  • corporate branding
  • corporate associations
  • service employees
  • FLE corporate identity

Cite this