1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Corporate image has been defined as "perceptions of an organization reflected in the associations held in consumer memory" (Keller, 1993). According to Andreassen and Lindestad (1998) corporate image is additional information for customers and influences the decision making behaviors of the customers. In cases such as prices, values and qualities of the products and services are similar corporate image becomes more important. It is the whole of the activities of a company which produces the corporate image. The customers’ minds can be affected by these activities either positively or negatively depending on the disclosed activity. According to Grönroos (1984) “image is a filter which influences the perception of the operation of the company”. This is in line with Gummesson (1993), who states that customer perceived quality is a function of “quality in fact and quality in perception”.
Financial performance is an extent to which a company financial health over a period of time is measured. In other words, it is a financial action used in order to generate higher sales, profitability and worth of a business entity for its shareholders through managing its current and non-current assets, financing, equity, revenues and expenses. Its main purpose is to provide complete to the point information to shareholders and stakeholders to encourage them in making decisions. It can be used to evaluate similar companies from the same industry or to compare industries in aggregation. Managing risk and increasing profitability of a firm within the corporate governance compliance is an essence of making good decisions. In order to take timely decision, accurate information and proper analysis of the sector is necessary. The non financial business region is a vital part of a country’s financial system. For that purpose, a stable and sound work base is necessary for country economy well being. One of the best ways of evaluating a sector financial performance is by the use of financial or ratio analysis. It shows the relation between one quantity or performance indicators over another, expressed mathematically and tries to summarize huge database for one eye view regarding the financial performance of a firm. According to Max Weber, the relationship between two or more things expressed mathematically is known as financial ratios.
Insurance industry has been recognized globally as a driver of economic growth and development. The industry provides financial security to policy holders, through the pooling and investment of premiums out of which those who suffer unexpected losses are indemnified (Doney and Cannon, 1997).
Today, the insurance industry is characterized by globalization, standardization, fast technological changes and large scale advantages. These changes have resulted in questions being raised among insurance providers such as "who are we'? and `what kind of business do we operate"? questions that are closely related to management of identity and image (Doney and Cannon, 1997).
Thus, the constant changes experienced within the insurance industry have led not only to intense competition among the insurance firms but also making these companies to portray its image intensively (Gronroos, 1990). Also insurance is a business built on trust and the major ingredient that gives flavour to the strategic roles played by insurance in the economy is confidence at such the corporate image remains a priceless asset that will not only strengthen the already existing public confidence but attract more customers to the industry. It is therefore, more important for insurance to understand their customers and the image perceived by customers of the organization (Balmer, 2008, Fombrun and Shanley cited in Onikoyi and Onikoyi, 2013).
Corporate image has become a prominent paradigm and has begun to be linked to strategic management decisions of organizations including insurance especially in the advanced economies. The concept is based on the recognition that clients buy brand products not because of their inherent qualities but also because of a bias, a disposition towards the providers. (Moorthy, 1985), points out that people tend to “humanize” companies, attribute personality characteristics to them, see them much as they do to humans in terms of being “mature,” “liberal,” “friendly,” and such other related attributes. Maintaining or expanding market share, keeping customers and business relations loyal, pre-empting competitive moves, and maintaining a profitable position will depend on differentiation and a unique positioning in the minds of corporate audiences (Van Heerden and Puth, 1995).
Sunter (1993) indicates that the only way consumers will be able to differentiate between institutions in future is through image and brands. The importance of having a well-defined identity is therefore of major relevance for service providers such as insurance institutions. Thus, Gronroos (1984) argues that image is of utmost importance to service firms and is to a great extent determined by customers’ assessment of the services they receive.
Corporate image, the collective opinion of an organization held by its stakeholders has been identified as a construct of growing importance (Kitchen and Laurence, 2003. MacMillan et al 2002). Among other factors, reputation has been identified as playing a significant role in improving firm value (Gregory, 1991), enhancing consumer perceptions of product quality (Grewal et al. 1998), raising employee morale, productivity and improving recruitment and retention (Turban and Cable, 2003), and permitting access to cheaper capital (Beatty and Ritter, 1986). Firms whose assets are difficult to imitate may achieve sustained superior financial performance (Grant, 1991).
Despite the understanding of corporate image on organizational financial performance, insurance firms in Nigeria often than not in building corporate strategy usually ignores the perception that internal and external audiences hold about the firm, but Balmer and Stotvig (1997), argue that firms must be fully aware of the image they are sending to both their external and internal audiences. This implies that the principles enshrined in their vision and mission must logically reflect their corporate image (Abratt and Mofokeng, 2001). Whether in fact that corporate image is positively or negatively related to organizational financial performance is an empirical issue that this study seeks to uncover by critically examining the effect of corporate image on financial performance of the insurance companies in Nigeria with a special reference to Nicon insurance companies and standard life assurance all in Jos.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Customer, analysts, employees, institutions or general public decide when a company deserves their regard, respect and trust depending on its actions and behavior towards the market and the society, and this behavior is expected to shape the performance of the corporate entity be it an insurance company or any other form of business.
Various firms aim to achieve higher customer retention rates, associated increased sales and product selling prices and reduced operating costs which are all benefits of a good corporate image. This can be achieved through truthful advertising, innovations, corporate social responsibility, ethics, goodwill and having a history of fulfilling obligations to various stakeholder groups thereby increasing the competitive advantage of an insurance company.
Even with the understanding that there is an abysmal culture of insurance in Nigeria, many insurance companies in a bid to achieve and sustain competitive advantage in the Nigerian insurance industry seem to be too busy chasing profitability while their corporate image is left unattended. They seem not to realize that competitiveness is not just about number, but certainly the impression that people and businesses hold about them.
In the advanced insurance business clime the management of intangible assets like corporate image, identity and reputation are integrated into the managerial tactical tools to strengthen not just competitive advantage but to command impromptu demand. But in the developing countries, particularly in Nigeria the significance of corporate image seem not to be acknowledged by the insurance practitioners; a reason why many feel that the poor financial performance of the insurance industry may not be unconnected to corporate image.
Many of the studies on the relationship between corporate image and financial performance of companies were done outside Nigeria. These studies particularly focused on the insurance companying industry. Research on corporate image and financial performance of insurance companies is very scanty. In Nigeria, most of the available studies about corporate communication such as (Frenken,2007) largely focused on corporate reputation across various organizational settings. These researches were also theoretical studies whose findings were subjectively based on researchers’ personal opinions. It is noted that the past studies did not give adequate attention to the impact of corporate image on financial performance of insurance companies in Nigeria,
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
In line with the statement of research problems the objectives of the study are to determine the Effect Of Corporate Image On Financial Performance Of Insurance Companies. The objectives therefore are:
1) To the level of cooperate image exhibited by insurance companies in jos.
2) To examine the potential benefits of good cooperate image of an organization
3) To the examine the effect of cooperate image on the financial performance of insurance companies in jos
4) To examine the measures of financial performance to monitor in an insurance company
5) To examine factors that Influence cooperate image of an insurance company
6) To recommend strategies for effective building and promotion of good cooperate image of an organization
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1) What is the level of cooperate image exhibited by insurance companies in Jos?
2) What are the potential benefits of good cooperate image of an organization?
3) What is the effect of cooperate image on the financial performance of insurance companies in Jos?
4) What are the measures of financial performance to monitor in an insurance company?
5) What are the factors that Influence cooperate image of an insurance company?
6) what are strategies for effective building and promotion of good cooperate image of an organization?
1.5 HYPOTHESIS OF THE STUDY
In line with the statement of research problems and the objectives of this thesis, the following hypothesis will be tested:
HO: Cooperate image does not have a significant effect on the financial performance of insurance company
H1: Cooperate image have a significant effect on the financial performance of insurance company
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This study would enable the researcher to pass their experience on the subject matter to insurance companies, Government ministries, NGOS, schools (students) to serve as a medium for further research.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study would cover effect of corporate image on financial performance of insurance companies. The study would encompass insurance companies in jos,plateau state etc.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The researcher was faced with the following constraints in carrying out this study:Time: The time within the researcher is too short to carry on the detail study on this topic. Resources: Another constraint of the researcher is financial resources to carry on the detail study of this topic.Data: Another limitation to this study will be lack of data to make valid study on the research problem.
1.9 OPREATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
CORPORATE IMAGE: A corporate image of a company can be defined as an image that people hold in their mind about the company, its products, and its services. The corporate image of a company is referred to as the reputation of the company in the market place or how others view it outside the company
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