Employer Image and Employer Branding: What We Know and What We Need to Know

Filip Lievens, Jerel E. Slaughter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


In this article, we review theory and research on employer image and employer branding published since 2001. The review is wide ranging. First, we define employer image and distinguish it from similar constructs such as reputation and identity. We find that the literature has used two conceptualizations of images: an elementalistic perspective (e.g., distinction between symbolic and instrumental organizational attributes) and a holistic perspective (i.e., overall ratings of organizational attractiveness). Second, we discuss the effects of favorable organizational images, including better recruitment outcomes, more differentiation, stronger emotional bonds, and financial returns. Third, we review the antecedents and formation of image with a focus on organizational (e.g., recruiters) and nonorganizational sources [e.g., word of mouth (WOM)]. Fourth, we discuss the theoretical mediating mechanisms responsible for image effects and the moderators of image-outcome relationships. Finally, we address practical implications in the form of employer brand management and provide future research suggestions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-440
Number of pages34
JournalAnnual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior
StatePublished - 2016


  • employer image
  • employer image management
  • organizational attractiveness
  • recruitment
  • signaling theory
  • social identity theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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