Employer branding for universities is an under-researched but highly important topic because it supports universities in the global competition to attract and retain the best academic talents. Academic work differs from corporate work with regard to, for example, task portfolios, autonomy, salaries, and reward systems. Thus, results of previous research gained from corporate settings about successful employer branding is not easily transferable to the university context. This study is the first to examine which employer branding attributes attract international postdoctoral scholars to academic positions. The results from an experimental metric conjoint design with 285 international postdoctoral scholars identify the relationship quality with a scientific mentor and scientific autonomy as the most important attributes. Furthermore, the availability of research scholarships, general training opportunities, and tenure track positions significantly increases the attraction of an academic position for postdoctoral scholars. In line with approaches on employer branding segmentation, we further show that job attributes differ in the strength of their positive influence on postdocs’ probability to apply for an academic position resulting from gender differences, field of research and geographic origin. In the conclusions of the paper, we discuss the implications of our findings for universities that aim to build a sustainable employer brand.
From January 2013, the Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft (ZfB) is published in English under the title Journal of Business Economics (JBE). The Journal of Business Economics (JBE) aims at encouraging theoretical and applied research in the field of business economics and business administration, promoting the exchange of ideas between science and practice.