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Determining corporate identity in UK corporations : an empirical analysis and evaluation

Tourky, Marwa


Marwa Tourky


Corporate branding is a product of the late 20th century which often requires positioning the corporation in terms of its values, emotions, philosophy, and not just its products and services. Within the corporate branding discourse, corporate identity (CI) is held to be a key focal point. CI creates a sense of individuality for an organisation that can be used as a main source of differentiation. Thus, CI’s strategic instrumentality can be used as a means to achieve and maintain competitive advantage as customers can potentially identify with some aspects of a business, including its societal and cultural policies as well as its products and services. Furthermore, stakeholders are much concerned with corporate image and reputation which is based on elaboration of CI over time. As a result, interest in CI has accelerated in academic and business circles over the past ten to fifteen years.

While the concept of CI has been widely discussed and defined in the literature, there is as yet no universally accepted definition and an agreement on what constitutes the construct has not been achieved, despite the fact that several explanatory frameworks and taxonomies have been developed. While these frameworks are of value to researchers in developing and structuring the nascent literature, they merely provide a platform for subsequent research. However, even the developed frameworks lack theoretical depth at this stage and do not provide a clear specification of the construct domain, which is considered essential given the ambivalent boundaries between CI and related constructs, such as corporate image, reputation, and corporate branding. Therefore, in many respects, overlapping and contiguous interconnections persist, obfuscating CI boundaries. In addition, they tend to adopt a metaphorical view of CI that continues, suggesting a broad, over-simplified and insufficiently operational theory. Moreover, despite the significance that CI research has recently been accorded, such research has largely ignored the moral aspect of CI and a theoretically informed body of knowledge, explaining the relationship between CI and CSR, does not exist.

Informed by these issues and from a multidisciplinary perspective, this thesis aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of CI (its meaning, elements/dimensions, theoretical underpinning and measurement) and its relationship with CSR. This was achieved using an exploratory sequential mixed method research design, qualitative followed by quantitative research. The first phase was an exploratory interpretive phase which concerned an examination of the meaning and elements of CI, gaining insights into the nature of CSR in practice and an exploration of the relationship between these two strands from practitioners’ and experts’ viewpoints. This was based on the use of semi-structured interviews with twenty five senior managers responsible for CI, brand management, and CSR in fifteen leading companies operating in different industries in the UK as well as in three public relations (PR) agencies. Data analysis of the exploratory phase of research was informed by content analysis and Miles and Huberman’s (1994) approaches to qualitative analysis, and augmented by the use of NVivo9.

Based on the findings of the first phase, a theoretical framework and an empirically testable scale for the CI construct were developed, and the relationship between CI and CSR was hypothesised. Consequently, the second phase concerned validating the CI framework and scale, testing hypotheses concerning the CI-CSR relationship, and empirically examining CSR engagement in practice. A completed sample (n=126) was obtained using surveys administered via postal mail to senior executives responsible for branding/marketing/communication and CSR functions in organisations operating in the UK’s food and beverage manufacturing sector. Data analysis involved the use of Cronbach’s alpha and exploratory factor analysis (EFA) utilising SPSS19. This helped purify the measure and reveal the dimensions structure. Then, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modelling (SEM) were applied utilising SmartPLS. The application of CFA provided robust support for CI dimensionality validation and evidence for the psychometric properties of the scale while SEM enabled the examination of hypotheses between constructs.

The findings show that CI is a third-order, hierarchical, multi-dimensional construct comprising six dimensions: corporate communications, corporate visual identity (CVI), behaviour, culture, mission dissemination, and founder leadership. Additionally, CSR comprises two dimensions: social responsibility and legal responsibility. Further, the findings support the assumption of this thesis that CI drives CSR, demonstrating the significant, positive influence of CI on CSR. The analysis also reveals the significant, positive indirect effect of individual CI dimensions on CSR.

These findings have significant theoretical, managerial and methodological contributions to CI and CSR literature which are discussed in the Conclusions chapter. It is hoped that future research will build on these results so that further avenues can be explored.


Tourky, M. (2013). Determining corporate identity in UK corporations : an empirical analysis and evaluation. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 26, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Feb 1, 2013


Thesis (6.1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2013 Tourky, Marwa. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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