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'The people make the brand' : reducing social skills gaps through person-brand fit and human resource management practices

Hurrell, Scott and Scholarios, Dora (2014) 'The people make the brand' : reducing social skills gaps through person-brand fit and human resource management practices. Journal of Service Research, 17 (1). pp. 54-67. ISSN 1094-6705

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Fit between an organization’s brand and its employees, sometimes referred to as employee brand identification, has been highlighted as an important element of delivering service quality. This paper examines the people management practices directed both at potential and current employees which enhance this ‘person-brand fit’ and proposes that effective management of this can help reduce the persistent problem of social skills gaps in service organizations. A study of managers and customer-facing employees in two hotel case studies – one reporting significant social skills gaps and the other reporting few gaps – showed that the hotel reporting fewer gaps had achieved greater employee identification with the brand. This hotel conducted recruitment and selection around person-brand fit, whilst the other hotel did not. The hotel reporting fewer social skills gaps also allowed greater employee agency in brand socialization, training and in the enactment of the brand on the job. The paper discusses the relevance of these findings for theory on how human resource management (HRM) practices may be linked to service brands in order to reduce social skills gaps.