THE RELATION OF INSTRUMENTAL and SYMBOLIC ATTRIBUTES TO A COMPANY'S ATTRACTIVENESS AS AN EMPLOYER

Authors


  • The authors thank Bill Balzer, Greet Van Hoye, and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on a previous version of this paper. We also thank Luc Goovaerts, Katrien Lesage, Wim Van Rompay, and Kitty Holsters for their help in collecting the data. Portions of this paper were presented at the 17th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (2002), Toronto, Canada

and requests for reprints should be addressed to Filip Lievens, Department of Personnel Management and Work and Organizational Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2,9000 Ghent, Belgium; filip.lievens@rug.ac.be.

Abstract

This study adds a new marketing-based angle to the study of the attractiveness of organizations in the early stages of the recruitment process. Drawing on the instrumental-symbolic framework from the marketing literature, we expected that the meanings (in terms of inferred traits) that prospective applicants associate with employing organizations would play an important role in applicants' attractiveness to these organizations. Two groups of prospective applicants (275 final-year students and 124 bank employees) were drawn from the applicant population targeted by the bank industry. These applicants were asked to rate a randomly assigned bank in terms of job/organizational factors and to ascribe traits to this bank. In both samples, trait inferences about organizations accounted for incremental variance over job and organizational attributes in predicting an organization's perceived attractiveness as an employer. Moreover, it was easier to differentiate among organizations on the basis of trait inferences versus traditional job and organizational attributes. Practical implications for image audit and image management are discussed.

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