INTERNAL MARKETING IN THE TERTIARY EDUCATION IN CYPRUS: PERCEPTUAL GAPS WITHIN KEY STAKEHOLDER GROUPS
University of Nicosia (CYPRUS)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The paper explores the theory and practice of Internal Marketing (IM) as perceived by key stakeholder groups (faculty, management and students) of a private university in Cyprus. The study aims at investigating the perceptions and attitudes of these internal audiences and whether there are any gaps in the perceptions, attitudes, expectations and experiences between top management, faculty members, and undergraduate and postgraduate students. The overarching aim is to understand the rational and scope of IM by being based on the attitudes and experiences of the people who work within the specific university. The university has recently signed an agreement for implementing the mechanisms and procedures for gaining an ‘investors in people’ recognition award. At the same time, one of the university’s strengths as highlighted by the university’s top management team is its people orientation. However, the university has recently taken a number of measures to increase efficiency including termination of faculty contracts and voluntary redundancies which contradict the underlying principles of IM. The recently awarded “Investors in People” award only concerns administrative staff and exclude faculty members. But faculty members are an integral part of the service offered to students. The faculty member’s feelings and attitudes can have an impact on the quality of service and the quality of service delivery. Yet, the university’s management fails to recognize it. This can be a fatal mistake since it can destroy the reputation and image of the university. The data collection methods use in-depth personal interviews and questionnaires.
The study aims at shedding light onto the following research objectives:
• To identify the underlying principles of IM as viewed by the interviewees
• To establish whether the current IM practice reflects the key values of the concept
• To uncover any gaps in the perceptions and experiences of the various internal audiences participating in the study
• To identify managerial implications based on the findings of the study
The paper argues that the Higher Education sector since it is characterized by inseparability, intangibility and variability which are the provision of education must embrace and practice IM. Zeithaml et al., (2009) claim that services tend to be more intangible than manufactured products. The tangibility spectrum presented by the authors shows that ‘teaching’ has the intangible element as a dominant factor which suggests that this field can be regarded as even a “pure service”. Under these conditions it is believed that the use of an IM approach has the potential to create more satisfied ‘customer’-contact faculty members who appreciate the importance of adopting a courteous, caring and empathetic behavior when dealing with students. Services and service organizations can greatly benefit by strengthening the corporate brand through the adoption of IM. Although the university studied claims to have adopted the concept the reality tends to show that the current implementation approach is problematic and that there is a gap between rhetoric and practice with serious managerial implications.
Zeithml, V.A., Bitner, M.J. and Gremler, D.D. (2009) “Services Marketing: Integrating customer focus across the firm”, New York: McGraw-Hill.
Keywords: Internal marketing, tertiary education.