Organisational culture and the communication of loyalty : an ethnography

  • Sophia Mawani Gilmour

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Loyalty management has emerged over recent years as a topic of significant importance in both academic and practitioner discourse, articulating the benefits of an extended relationship with key stakeholders including, but not limited to, customers, employees and shareholders. This research explores the theory and practice of loyalty management from a communications perspective. The thesis attempted to discover how the integration or non-integration of internal and external communication affects the communication of loyalty, in addition to how loyalty management contributes towards the organisation's perceived creation of value. In doing so, it also examines how the practice of customer relationship management (CRM),integrated marketing communication (IMC) and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) plays a role in the communication of loyalty. The research entailed a three-year ethnographic study of a business-to-business financial services organisation specialising in vehicle fleet leasing and management services, comprising a review of relevant academic literature; and participant observation, focus group studies, qualitative surveys and document analysis. Besides evaluating loyalty management from a communications perspective, the thesis contributes towards the body of knowledge on Australian organisations from an organisational culture perspective, as well as exploring communication beyond the traditional boundary of within the organisation itself. Unlike most loyalty management approaches, the holistic stance considers other stakeholders besides customers, in detail. The study does not seek to establish validity and generalisability. Rather, the mainly interpretist approach preserves the form and content of human behaviour by detailing descriptions of the concrete experience of life within a particular culture and of the social rules, patterns and perceptions that constitute it. The findings showed that organisational communication has to be integrated and cohesive to enable the effective management of loyalty. Furthermore, the results confirm that the notion of organisational boundaries comprising "internal" and "external" communication is limited. Involved protagonists, acting together from within and external to an organisation, create, sustain and manage meanings through the use of signs and symbols within a particular context to form a unique culture or community. In addition, the notion of loyalty and the creation of value for the consequent success of the organisation is an important and valid perception for most of the stakeholders. For this organisation, the use of ICT and practice of CRM and IMC has varying degrees of impact, mainly enhancing the communication of loyalty. The detraction of value is caused primarily by the fragmentation of communication between the stakeholders, in addition to the existence of sub-cultures with conflicting needs.
    Date of Award2006
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPatricia Anne Milne (Supervisor), Leanne Glenny (Supervisor) & Richard Blood (Supervisor)

    Cite this