Janina Schaumann defended her thesis “Stakeholder-based brand equity (SBBE) – A qualitative study of its development through firm-stakeholder interactions in emerging markets” on 21 September 2021. Below you can find out more about Janina and her research, described in her own words.
I came to Lund in 2009, to study in the Master program ‘International Marketing & Brand Management’. This program and specifically the lecturers who taught us about research methodology and a critical approach to management, influenced my decision to apply for a PhD position. I wanted to continue to ask questions instead of ‘only’ applying what I had learned to marketing practice. To me, there were just too many questions unanswered. Additionally, I learned about myself that finding answers was not the most fulfilling to me. Instead, it was the process of discovery as such that I valued the most. A very helpful character trait when going through a PhD process – especially when this process continues for over a decade.
During the first years of my PhD studies, I was a part of a research collaboration between the School of Economics and Management and King’s College London with the aim to investigate market-driving multinational companies in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. During the field study one of these unanswered questions popped up again and again. It circled around the interactions between the firm and its different stakeholders and how these create brand value. Although my thesis is about a new perspective on brand equity, this was not what I had in mind when I started. Indeed, at times it was quite a turmoil that my mind went through until the fog lifted and I was able to see. Luckily, I could rely on the inspirational dialogue and – at times - ‘tough love’ from my supervisors to redirect my focus on what was important and what was not. Eventually I knew: my study was a brand equity study.
Many of my interviewees shared with me how diverse external stakeholders influenced the brand’s value to diverse stakeholders (customers, consumers, NGOs, suppliers, retailers, governments etc.). I realized that this tacit knowledge had not been captured theoretically in the brand equity literature, but I realized great relevance in developing a multi-stakeholder perspective on the development of brand equity. In my thesis I challenge the prevailing firm-consumer/customer-centric and dyadic perspective that prevails within the brand equity literature, which is based on a linear, straightforward stimulus-response approach to the creation of brand value. This was not how my interviewees described the creation of their brands’ value. They referred to a more multi-participatory and collaborative process based on mutual value creation between the firm and its stakeholders.
To ease understanding when taking a multi-stakeholder perspective on brand equity, I introduced the concept of stakeholder-based brand equity (SBBE). This describes the value of the brand as evaluated by stakeholders, which is co-created through the interactions between the firm and its multiple stakeholders. This resulted in a framework that conceptualises SBBE and outlines the dynamics of its development process and the influence of stakeholder and corporate collaboration on the brand’s context. Unlike existing brand equity frameworks, it outlines a dynamic and circular process and stresses the development of SBBE as collectively created through multiple firm-stakeholder collaborations and mutual value creation. In short: my thesis proclaims that if managers which to develop their brand’s sustainably, they need to consider all their diverse business and non-business stakeholders’ needs and their contribution to mutual, sustainable value creation. My thesis particularly emphasizes, which activities managers can employ to reach stakeholder collaboration and how stakeholders influence the brand through their actions.
Looking back, these many years of my PhD process were a constant rollercoaster ride. It was incredibly tough, inspiring, tiring, rewarding and much more. The result is a book that I am proud of and a bucketload of experiences that were invaluable to my personal and professional development. Looking ahead, a career in academia is what I strive for. I am excited to continue my research on SBBE and find answers to new questions that may pop up along the way.