Exploring the linkage between internal marketing, relationship marketing and service quality : A case study of a consulting organization

Bradley R. BARNES*, Martin T. FOX, D. S. MORRIS

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Historically, much of the academic marketing literature has tended to focus upon satisfying the needs and requirements of customers that are external to the organization. However, over recent years, some practitioners and academics alike are beginning to re-address how we do business, considering that such a customer orientation is only likely to be effective when the firm designs the necessary structures, processes and incentives to operationalize customer-oriented values (Hartline et al. 2000). This has led to a recent plethora of work in the field of 'Internal Marketing' (IM). Acknowledging and accepting that marketing has traditionally focused upon external markets and customers (Gremler et al., 1994), principles that revolved around a sense of customer consciousness are now being applied within the organization. In order to conceptualize this, the organization needs to be considered as a market, where each and every employee has an internal supplier (provider) and an internal customer ('reciprocant') of work-related tasks (Foreman & Money, 1995; Flipo, 1986; Berry, 1984). IM embraces the notion of where employees of the firm become internal customers. As with external customers, these too have requirements that need satisfying. Thus, through management satisfying the needs of internal customers, employees become more motivated and committed to the cause, which leads to external customers being well served (Kotler, 1991). Employees are therefore considered by management as a vital resource of the firm, and that contribute to the corporate effectiveness of an organization (Christopher et al. 1991). The paper reports on some exploratory research, forming a case study of a medium sized UK consultancy group who provide project management, quantity surveying and contractual advice to the construction and process engineering industries. The research draws on literature from within the Internal, Relationship Marketing and Service Quality fields. This was used to investigate the impact of Internal Marketing on Service Quality, perceived among employees from within the firm. Although the paper focuses on one specific firm, the authors believe that the research findings and recommendations could prove useful to other firms from a wide variety of industries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-601
Number of pages9
JournalTotal Quality Management and Business Excellence
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Internal marketing
  • Relationship marketing
  • Service quality


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