Is there a bigger and better future for employer branding? Facing up to innovation, corporate reputations and wicked problems in SHRM
Employer branding is becoming an increasingly important topic for research and practice in multinational enterprises (MNEs) because it plays directly into their corporate reputation, talent management and employee engagement agendas. In this paper, we argue that the potential effects of employer branding have yet to be fully understood because current theory and practice have failed to connect this internal application of marketing and branding to the key reputational and innovation agendas of MNEs, both of which are at the heart of another strategic agenda - effective corporate governance. However, these agendas are characterised by 'wicked problems' in MNEs, which have their origins in competing logics in strategic human resource management (SHRM). These problems need to be articulated and understood before they can be addressed. This paper proceeds by (1) setting out a definition and model of employer branding and how it potentially articulates with corporate governance, innovation and organisational reputations, (2) discussing and analysing the 'wicked problems' resulting from the sometimes contradictory logics underpinning innovation and corporate reputations and SHRM in MNEs and (3) evaluating the potential of employer branding as a contribution to the third SHRM approach - HR strategy-inaction - as a way of resolving three particularly wicked problems in MNEs. We conclude with some ideas for research and practice on the future for employer branding. 2011 Taylor & Francis.