Internal RM as knowledge renewal
Ballantyne (2000) argues that the common denominator in all approaches to IM is knowledge renewal – that is, the generation and circulation of new knowledge – and states that there is a clear distinction between internal transaction marketing and internal relationship marketing. In this model, transaction marketing is concerned with the capture of knowledge, through measurement, control and research methods and knowledge codification, in the form of new product information, policy, strategy etc. In contrast, internal relationship marketing is concerned with knowledge generation, through cross-functional teams and creative approaches to problem solving, and knowledge circulation through team-based learning programmes, feedback systems and skills development workshops. Trust is a prerequisite of internal relationship marketing – both between the organization’s various employees and between employees and the management. Without it, Ballantyne argues, the interaction, dialogue and motivation towards a common goal cannot occur.
Internal marketing – implementation tool or business philosophy?
The literature reviewed above points to two distinct approaches to internal marketing. In one, internal marketing is used by senior management as an enabling device for the implementation of a given initiative, such as RM. In the latter, internal marketing requires a radical rethink of the organization, its systems and structures. Strategy is not preset by senior management, but emerges from dialogue between the various internal and external stakeholders. Although these tend to be portrayed in the literature as alternatives, it is likely that they define the two ends of a spectrum. An equivalent can be identified for internal marketing. Clearly, the latter approach is better suited to relationship marketing in its ‘purest’ form, in which the boundaries between employees and customers should be all but gone. Such an approach is not possible for all types of organization. Even where this form of RM is appropriate, it may take many years to develop. Hence it is envisaged that even the most strictly transactional approach to internal marketing has its value, though often only as a stepping-stone to a more relational mode of operation.