Stakeholder-based Brand Equity (SBBE) : A qualitative study of its development through firm-stakeholder interactions in emerging markets

Abstract: This thesis challenges 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. Leaning on the literature on interorganisational relationships, stakeholder theory, market emergence/market driving, and firm internationalisation, which stresses the interdependency of diverse external stakeholders and the firm, this study develops a broader, multi-stakeholder perspective. For this purpose, the concept of stakeholder-based brand equity (SBBE) is introduced. 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 thesis encompasses a qualitative study of three Swedish companies within the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China and employs a narrative approach to investigate corporate relationships with social, political, and business stakeholders, and the influence of these multiple firm-stakeholder interactions on the brand. There is particular emphasis on stakeholder and corporate activities and their influence on the development of SBBE.The core finding of this study is 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. Through this SBBE framework, this study contributes to theory and practice by 1) operationalising this novel concept through a typology of dimensions and sub-dimensions; 2) outlining specific corporate activities whereby managers can influence SBBE development; 3) showing how stakeholders can positively influence SBBE development through their collaborative response; and 4) providing new insights which might lead to long-term value creation through the changing of the brand’s context via stakeholder collaboration.