Organizations survive in part upon their reputations, embodied in the public perception of them. A business organization that sells a product- Microsoft selling computer software for example-relies on the public perception of the quality of its product for sales. This perception of product is also bound up in the perception of the organization. This includes visions of the quality of management, the reliability of its service guarantees, and the perception that the company stands behind its product (Perry, 2004). More and more, even in the private sector, the public perception of the organization is affected by people's beliefs about its mission, role in society and particularly the social responsibility it assumes. These same issues are also critical for non-profit organizations, particularly those that deliver social services or promote positive societal outcomes for shared values such as creating opportunity for the poor, educational issues, and the like. Consequently, a non-profit organization is judged on its ability to achieve its goal (service delivery or contributing to sustaining societal values), but also on the effectiveness of its management, the central value status of its goals, and its tactics for achieving goals. With a constricting economy, both private organizations and non-profit organizations are pressured to maximize the positive esteem in which they are held by the public.
In the business world this had led to companies making alliances or partnerships with other companies to promote mutual interests in both products and services offered and in the public perception of their legitimacy. Among non-profits, there has been great interest in the past decade in similar alliances and partnerships with other non-profits and with private organizations-to maximize their own interests, including public acceptance of services offered and public support as volunteers and contributors.
Understanding Brand Alliances
The definitions of brand alliances range from being concerned with the idea of more described brand alliances as the combination of existing brand names to create a composite brand name for a new product (Park et al., 1996). For example, Kotler et al. (1999) define co-branding as the practice of using the established brand names of two different companies on the same product. Berkowitz (1994) also describes this strategy as the pairing of two brand names on a single product. Those that have focused on the nature of the alliance take a broader perspective and focus more on the collaboration involved in the alliance. For example, Kapferer (1999) defines co-branding as the pairing of the respective brand names of two different companies in a collaborative marketing effort.
Meanwhile, Nigeria is one of the highly populated African countries, located in West Africa. It borders with Benin, Chad Cameroon and Niger. After 16 years under military rule, Nigeria adopted a new constitution in 1999 after a peaceful transition from military to civilian government in the same year (Lepla & Parker, 2002). Since the take over of the civilian government by president Obasanjo in 1999, the government has been facing the problem of re-building the economy that had been run down through massive corruption, mismanagement and lack of proper democratic institutions (Milaham & Dasam, 2005).
For the purpose of this research, a brand alliance refers to the partnering of two organizations to pursue a mutual goal. The term brand alliance is peculiar to the private sector, and will here be used interchangeably with partnership to reflect the language of non-profit sector research to evaluate brand management and improvement in public and private sectors in Nigeria.
2.0 Aims and Objectives.
The general aim of this research is to document whether or not different types of alliance or partnerships affect consumer's willingness to purchase or contribute to organizations. Two types of organizations are addressed: private sector businesses and non-profit sector service organizations. The reputation of the organizations participating in the alliance or partnership as positive or negative is also of concern.
3.0 Research Questions
These issues can be combined and addressed by answering the following four research questions.
- What is the effect of type of organization (non-profit or private business) on people's willingness to make a purchase or a contribution? Are people more willing to do business with the nonprofit sector?
- What is the effect of an organization's reputation (as positive or negative) on people's wiliness to make a purchase or a contribution? Are people at all selective in terms of social responsibility and managerial effectiveness or is a decision made solely on product or service reliability and honesty in advertising?
- 3. In brand alliances or partnerships, does willingness to purchase or contribute vary by whether the partners are both private sector, both non-profits or mixed?
- In brand alliances or partnerships, does willingness to purchase or contribute change when one of the organizations has a negative reputation?
A quasi-experimental design that varies combinations of private sector and non-profit organizations will be used to structure comparisons that are based on individual research participant willingness to purchase a product (private sector) or willingness to contribute to a non-profit organization (non-profit sector).
The research proposed here is important for several reasons. First, brand alliances are becoming more popular as a means for both non-profit's and private sector organizations that seek to accomplish organizational goals and objectives. Given this, it is important for organizations to understand what can be gained as well as what risks are taken when forming an alliance or partnership with another organization in Nigeria. There is little empirical data on these issues in either the non-profit setting or the private business setting. Much of the importance of this research rests with providing empirically defensible assessments of whether organizational reputations have an impact on people's decisions to purchase or make contributions in the first place. While it is assumed that Nigerian citizens would chose products or services from socially responsible, honest organizations, it has not been established in research. This study will identify whether reputation has an impact on such decisions or whether they are driven largely by the perception of the reliability of the product or service and the perceived honesty of advertising.
This study also addresses the question of whether the types of organizations (private versus non-profit) and their reputations have an impact on people's decisions to purchase or contribute. This issue is particularly important to the management of organizations that are preparing to enter alliances or partnerships with other organizations. In particular, non-profit organizations need to be able to optimally choose, in terms of the likelihood of success, among potential partners in the private or non-profit sector. Furthermore, the study permits an assessment of the impact of pairing with another organization whose reputation becomes negative at some point in the process. This information can guide an organization's decision to abandon such an alliance quickly or to wait while the negatively assessed organization tries to repair its image.
Based on the research questions developed for this thesis proposal, the hypothesis form the framework of the research,
- Troubled Nigerian organizations can improve their brand reliability by strategically forming a brand alliance with an organization with a positive reputation.
- Nigerian organizations with a negative reputation can benefit from alliances with positive reputation organizations from the same sector
- Branding has uplifted the image of Nigeria and its people at the international level.
6.0 Literature Review.
Consumers have preference for established brands in every sector, manufactures and developers of such brands invest heavily in marketing and research and development to sustain consumer preference for their brands (Clifton & Simmons, 2004). Such established brands world over include; coca cola, Mercedes Benz and Guinness. In July 2004, Nigeria embarked on a project dubbed "Nigeria image project" (Nworah, 2001). The aim of this project was to create a brand that would change the country's tainted image to the world. Most of the available literature on country branding looks at branding from one traditional perspective, with emphasis on marketing. Countries, just like products need to brand themselves as strategic destinations for investors and tourists (Mahajan, 2009).
Countries that are associated with terrorism, civil wars, corruption and poor governance are avoided by investors and tourists (Amaeshi & Adi 2006). This has a negative impact on the economic growth of the country. It is therefore important that a country packages itself as a peaceful nation, with supportive structures for business development so as to attract investors from other nations. This effort should be developed both in the public and private sectors of the nation. Security of investment and the rate of return on investment are some of the major factors that investors base on to decide which country to establish an investment (Akinbinu & Oni 2005).
With the growing globalisation, opening up countries to outside investment and, developing more interdependence and interrelatedness among nations, countries that have a poor reputation will virtually be marginalised by the neighbours and the regional blocks. According to Nworah, (2001), Nigeria has a poor international image stemming from corruption, bribery, poor economic growth as a result of overdependence on oil unemployment and poor infrastructural development (Milaham & Dasam 2005).
There is urgent need for the country to develop itself a better image for investors to view the country as a potential place for investment. This has to be an effort by both the private and the public sector. The private sector industries have a role to develop a positive image of the country through accountability and applying good business practices (Mayiyaki & Okeke, 2005). Good customer service by the private sector and good business practice models are instrumental in developing a nations branding.
To investigate the issues of concern of this proposal, the following methodologies shall be applied; a survey shall be conducted to obtain data that is relevant for the study. The survey process shall include conducting the relevant personalities in working in private and public sector. Particular samples shall be used and the information collected from them generalised to form a general picture for the research findings. Both qualitative and quantitative methods shall be applied to evaluate and analyse the data. Comparative methods of data presentation such as charts shall be used to present the data. This is in view of the study being comparative between public and private sectors of the economy.
8.0 Time Scale
This research proposal is designed to take a time span of three years. The schedule of activities shall be organised as follows.Year of studyActivity Duration Year. one Course work 1 year Thesis formulation and consultation. 3month Year. two Literature Review. 6 months Research methodology. 3 months Data collection & analysis. 6 months Year three Compiling the proposal. 3 months Proof reading & making final copy. 2 months Presentation. 1 month
9.0 Ethical Consideration.
To successfully come up with the findings that the research proposal targets, the support of others will be required. Several participants shall be involved in the research work. They will include; the professors who will give the advise and guidelines on how to go about the research and write a good proposal, Respondents in various offices, colleagues, and sponsors. It will also involve sourcing of information from resources that have been advanced by other researchers in similar and related fields. As a matter of fact, the support offered shall be all acknowledged in the write up. Sources consulted for the literature review shall be cited appropriately as a way to honour the owners of the information presented.
9.1 Contribution to knowledge
This proposed dissertation will be the first to establish strategies that the Nigeria should adopt to protect the established brands, both in the private and public domain. Based on previous research on quality uncertainty, reputation effects, contractual restraints and vertical integration, this study will shed light on several unexplained phenomena related to public and private branding. First, it can explain the extremely low public and private brand penetration in Nigeria. Second, it will explain the failure of public and private brands in product categories. Brand suppliers would have a stronger incentive to cheat on quality because they may not be hurt financially or reputationally when cheating is caught by consumers. Unless retailers are fully capable of monitoring the quality of unbranded products, it will be very difficult for them to convince consumers that the quality of brands is good. This study will also contribute to the knowledge of product variation in the probability of public and private branding and explains the performance inseparability that tend to hurt the relative competitiveness public and private products.
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