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Faculty responses to business school branding: a discursive approach

Sanne Frandsen (Lund University, Lund, Sweden and Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden)
Manto Gotsi (Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, Westminster, London, UK)
Allanah Johnston (Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK)
Andrea Whittle (Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK)
Stephen Frenkel (The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
André Spicer (Cass Business School, City, University of London, London, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 12 February 2018

Issue publication date: 16 April 2018



The branding of universities is increasingly recognized to present a different set of challenges than in corporate, for-profit sectors. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how faculty make sense of branding in the context of higher education, specifically considering branding initiatives in business schools.


The paper is based on qualitative interviews with faculty regarding their responses to organizational branding at four business schools. Discourse analysis was used to analyze the interview data.


The study reveals varied, fluid and reflexive faculty interpretations of organizational branding. Faculty interviewed in the study adopted a number of stances towards their schools’ branding efforts. In particular, the study identifies three main faculty responses to branding: endorsement, ambivalence and cynicism.


The study contributes by highlighting the ambiguities and ambivalence generated by brand management initiatives in the higher education context, offering original insights into the multiple ways that faculty exploit, frame and resist attempts to brand their organizations. The authors conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for branding in university contexts.



The authors would like to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments. The authors are grateful to the management and faculty members at all four business schools involved in this study. The authors would also like to acknowledge the initiative taken by Mats Alvesson at Lund University to bring together scholars to examine and discuss the implications of branding higher education.


Frandsen, S., Gotsi, M., Johnston, A., Whittle, A., Frenkel, S. and Spicer, A. (2018), "Faculty responses to business school branding: a discursive approach", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 52 No. 5/6, pp. 1128-1153.



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