Received: 19 April 2019 Revised: 30 May 2020 Accepted: 2 June 2020
Personal brand equity: Scale development
Sergey Gorbatov Svetlana N. Khapova Janneke K. Oostrom
Evgenia I. Lysova
Department of Management & Organization,
School of Business and Economics, Vrije
Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Sergey Gorbatov,Department of Manage-
ment & Organization, School of Business and
Economics, VrijeUniversiteit Amsterdam, De
Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the
Crafting a personal brand has become an important factor
for career success. Despite the growing literature on topics
associated with personal brands, the conceptualization and
measurement of personal brand equity (PBE) have received
little attention. By drawing upon and integrating the mar-
keting and careers literatures on branding, we reconceptu-
alized the definition of PBE and delineated its dimensions
and conceptual boundaries. Furthermore, we developed a
12-item scale to measure PBE. Among seven different sam-
ples (total N=3,273), including two samples of employees,
this study tested the construct and criterion-related valid-
ity of the PBE scale. First, exploratory and confirmatory fac-
tor analyses supported a three-dimensional structure of PBE
(brand appeal, brand differentiation, and brand recognition).
In two samples, the convergent and discriminant validity of
the PBE scale was established. Finally, this study showed
that PBE predicts perceived employability, career success,
and job performance. The PBE scale offers new opportuni-
ties to understand and measure career behaviors by consid-
ering individuals’ personal brand positioning.
career success, personal brand, personal branding, personal brand
equity (PBE), self-presentation
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and repro-
duction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
© 2020 The Authors. Personnel Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC
Personnel Psychology. 2021;74:505–542. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/peps 505
506 GORBATOV ET AL.
Personal branding has become an important career tactic for contemporary workers (for review, see Gorbatov,
Khapova, & Lysova,2018). To be successful in the competitive world of employment, individuals are pressured to adopt
personal responsibility for their careers (Arthur, Khapova, & Richardson, 2017) and learn the craft of staying employ-
able. An important factor for job and career success is standing out from the competition in terms of professional
and personal qualities (Harris & Rae, 2011; Pagis & Ailon, 2017; Rangarajan, Gelb, & Vandaveer, 2017). By adopting
such a consumer-oriented outlook toward one’s professional image, individuals can proactively manage their job and
career success (Gandini, 2016; Vallas & Cummins, 2015). Indeed, promoting the professional self to develop greater
personal brand equity (PBE), or “the aggregation of all the attitudes and behavior patterns of the brand’s stakeholders”
(Bendisch, Larsen, & Trueman, 2013, p. 606), has become a career reality if not a career necessity (Gandini, 2016). Not
proactively managing one’s career may have deleterious effects, including lower employability and job performance
(Crant, 2000; Hall, 2004; Seibert, Kraimer, & Crant, 2001).
The fact that individuals increasingly craft personal brands is well documented in the practitioner literature (Clark,
2011; Montoya & Vandehey, 2002; Peters, 1997). However, thus far, the scholarly literature has largely ignored this
topic. Indeed, Gorbatov et al. (2018) note that while a search for “personal brand*” on Amazon.com returns over
300,000 results, only 100 relevant scholarly articles exist in academic databases when a search is conducted using the
same phrase. Moreover, most of these scholarly articles are either conceptual (Bendisch et al., 2013; Bridgen, 2011;
Hearn, 2008) or qualitative (Ottovordemgentschenfelde, 2017; Parmentier, Fischer, & Reuber, 2013; Tarnovskaya,
2017). Evans (2017) pointed out that “there has been virtually no empirical analysis of brand equity measures from
a self-branding perspective” (p. 304). Hence, there is a clear need for more quantitative research on the topic.
Despite the previous research efforts, there is no consensus on how to define PBE. This is an obstacle for conducting
empirical studies. Bendisch et al.’s (2013, p. 606) definition of PBE as “the aggregation of all the attitudes and behav-
ior patterns of the brand’s stakeholders,” relates to the personal brands of CEOs and lacks the specificity that would
enable PBE to be distinguished from other constructs in the same nomological field (Suddaby, 2010). Furthermore,
to propel the research in this area, a reliable and valid measure of PBE is needed. There have been some attempts to
measure constructs related to PBE, including professor brand equity (Jillapalli & Jillapalli, 2014), personal branding
and personal brand performance (Kucharska & Mikołajczak, 2018), a business CEO’s personal brand (Chen & Chung,
2016), and athlete brands (Arai, Ko, & Kaplanidou, 2013). However, these scales lack either generalizability (they are
too context-specific) or methodological rigor (they fail to meet several established scale development standards).
In this paper,we make three essential theoretical and empirical contributions to the literature on personal branding.
First, to advance contemporary career research, we draw on the marketing literature (J. L. Aaker, 1997; Keller, 1993)
to formulate a definition of PBE that encompasses three underlying dimensions: brand appeal, brand differentiation,
and brand recognition. Second, we answer calls for more empirical research on personal brands (e.g., Evans, 2017;
Shepherd, 2005) by providing a reliable scale to measure the strengths of one’s personal brand. We test the validity
of this scale in different cultural contexts and samples (students and employees), which illustrates the scale’s general-
izability across varying populations. Moreover, we show that PBE is related to, but conceptually different from, other
established constructs in the self-presentation and career literature (Evans, 2017; Zinko & Rubin, 2015). Third, we are
the first to empirically demonstrate the importance of PBE in today’s competitive work environment. Specifically, we
show that PBE can predict individuals’ perceived career success, perceived employability, and job performance (i.e.,
self-rated and other-rated) over and above other established career- and job-related constructs.
1.1 Defining personal brand equity
The PBE concept’s roots lie in the marketing literature that has established that a product’s brand equity is the
outcome of the process of creating and positioning a product’s brand and is reflected in consumers’ familiarity and
GORBATOV ET AL.507
perception of the brand (D. A. Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1993, 2001; Yoo & Donthu, 2001). In the marketing field, the con-
cept of brand equity can be approached from two perspectives: a financial and a consumer (or customer) perspective.
From a financial perspective, brand equity is the value of the brand. This is similar to the concept of financial equity,
which refers to the difference between the value of assets and the value of liabilities (Simon & Sullivan, 1993). From
the customer perspective (the perspective that this study builds on), brand equity is a brand’s value (Hoeffler & Keller,
2003; Schultz, 2016), which resides in being familiar with a brand and holding “favorable, strong, and unique brand
associations in memory” (Keller, 1993, p. 2). Keller and Lehmann (2006) considered customer-based brand equity as
“partoftheattractionto—orrepulsionfrom—aparticularproduct[...]generatedbythe‘nonobjective’ part of the prod-
uct offering and not by the product attributes per se” (p. 754). Thus, a brand may have attributes and associations that
are detached from the product itself and malleable depending on the target audiences’ needs.
Applying the branding principles to individuals, marketing scholars have studied the concept of a human brand,
or “any well-known persona who is the subject of marketing communications efforts” (Thomson, 2006, p. 104). This
spurred a stream of research on people as brands, exploring the human brands of, for instance, academics (Close,
Moulard, & Monroe, 2011), celebrities (Moulard, Garrity, & Rice, 2015), and politicians (Speed, Butler, & Collins, 2015).
However, this research only looked at select professional domains, while the agentic nature of personal branding indi-
cates that anyone can construct a personal brand (Lair, Sullivan, & Cheney, 2005; Shepherd, 2005).
It is not surprising that the careers literature has adopted the idea of people as brands. In fact, in the context of
increasingly flexible employment relationships, managing a personal brand has become a necessity for individuals to
promote themselves. The careers literature defines a personal brand as “a set of characteristics of an individual (e.g.,
attributes, values, and beliefs) rendered into a differentiated narrative and imagery with the intent of establishing a
competitive advantage in the minds of the target audience” (Gorbatov et al., 2018, p. 6). Although this definition allows
studying personal brands from a contemporary careers perspective (Arthur et al., 2017), it does not capture the equity
component of a personal brand. To be able to examine the effects of PBE on individuals’ career success and related
criteria, PBE needs to be conceptualized in terms of the perceived value of one’s personal brand, which is its equity.
Therefore, we reconceptualized PBE following Keller’s (1993) conceptualization of brand equity that comprises
three dimensions: consumer response to marketing,differential effect,andbrand knowledge. Extending the marketing
brand theory to personal branding, we relabeled Keller’s dimensions. The first dimension, a consumer’s response to
marketing, refers to the favorability of the reactions (i.e., perceptions, preferences, or behaviors) toward the brand,
and, thus, resembles the extent to which the features and characteristics of a personal brand are appealing. Hence,
we relabeled this dimension brand appeal. As marketers strive to elicit a positive response from consumers to product
stimuli (consumer response to marketing; Keller, 1993), individuals must emphasize the various traits and attitudes
that they want others to associate with their brand (J. L. Aaker, 1997). The personal branding research shows that in
their attempts to increase their PBE, individuals develop brand appeal based on the needs and preferences of their
distinct target audiences by emphasizing certain features and characteristics. These include, for example, friendliness
(Pagis & Ailon, 2017) or trying to come across as audience-oriented and networking (Hedman, 2017).
The second dimension, differential effect, indicates the extent to which the product stands out compared to other
products. Thus, within the context of personal branding, the differential effect indicates how much one’s professional
value is superior to others. Therefore, this dimension was relabeled brand differentiation. It concerns the perceived
superior benefits associated with the person’s work, and the strength of one’s PBE depends on the degree of differenti-
ationofsuchbenefits(Evans,2017). Keller (1993) viewed the differential effect of a brand as the consumer’s response
to a branded versus fictitiously named or an unbranded version of a product. An effective personal brand possesses
distinctive features and a sense of uniqueness (Pagis & Ailon, 2017). Such differentiation makes a personal brandcom-
petitive, ensuring greater advantages in a competitive labor market to achieve goals such as landing a job, being asked
to participate in a project, or receiving a promotion (Parmentier et al., 2013).
The last dimension, brand knowledge, refers to the descriptive and evaluative brand-related information that is
stored in one’s memory. Within the context of personal branding, this dimension is akin to being recognized in one’s
professional field. Hence, this dimension was relabeled brand recognition. This dimension relates to the perception of
508 GORBATOV ET AL.
the salience of one’s personal brand regarding an industry, type of work, or service. In marketing, brand recognition
is conceptualized as the ease of recognition and recall of a certain brand in the minds of the target audience (Keller,
1993). Hoeffler and Keller (2003) argued that increasing brand recognition should be a priority in brand building as
consumers are more attentive to familiar brands. By proactively providing a sense of one’s own appealing and superior
professional offer to a wide array of relevant others, individuals increase the salience and outreach of their personal
These three dimensions of PBE align with the competency-based view of careers (Arthur, Claman, & DeFillippi,
1995). This view suggests that throughout their career, individuals develop three career competencies: knowing-why,
knowing-how, and knowing-whom (DeFillippi & Arthur, 1994; Guan, Arthur, Khapova, Hall, & Lord, 2019). Knowing-
why captures an answer to the question of why do I work and refers to personal motivation, values, and identity.
Knowing-how captures an answer to the question of how do I work and refers to skills, competencies, and unique
ways of working. In turn, knowing-whom captures an answer to the question with whom do I work and refers to profes-
sional connections and networks (Arthur et al., 2017). Labeled as an “intelligent career” framework (Parker, Khapova,
& Arthur, 2009), this perspective builds on the resource-based view of careers (Inkson & Clark, 2010) as a conceptual
extension of the resource-based view of a firm (Barney, 1991). It suggests that careers can also be defined as dynamic
“repositories of knowledge” (Bird, 1996, p. 150). From this perspective, careers can be viewed as entailing the com-
petitive dynamics of resource acquisition and utilization, and resource characteristics such as rarity and inimitability
(Inkson & Clark, 2010).
Linking the competency-based view of careers to PBE, in this paper, we posit that knowing-whyinforms the desired
professional identity and image (i.e., brand appeal), knowing-how enables the individual to establish the points of parity
and points of differentiation in a professional field (Parmentier et al., 2013) (i.e., brand differentiation), while knowing-
whom enables the communication and engagement strategy to bolster recognizability in that field (i.e., brand recog-
nition). Thus, our PBE conceptualization is consistent with related career frameworks entailing three attributes with
similar and/or related meanings, which further emphasizes the value of the PBE construct for the careers literature.
Therefore, building on the marketing and careers literatures, we define PBE as “an individual’s perception of the
value of one’s personal brand derived from its appeal, differentiation, and recognition in a given professional field.”
Together, these three dimensions capture the essence of PBE and explain how the perception of the value of one’s per-
sonal brand is created through appealing features and characteristics (brand appeal), superior professional benefits
(brand differentiation), and outreach and awareness (brand recognition). It is expectedthat these three subdimensions
are correlated yet distinguishable, similar to the brand equity factors of product brands (Washburn & Plank, 2002;Yoo
& Donthu, 2001). On the one hand, the strategic nature of the personal branding process should ensure that the three
PBE subdimensions are balanced. For instance, if an individual perceives their personal brand as appealing and differ-
entiated, they are also more likely to be more recognizable in their professional area. On the other hand, the three PBE
subdimensions tap into the different attributes of PBE. As explained above, brand appeal concerns the positive reac-
tion toward the brand, brand differentiation concerns the positioning vis-à-vis the competition, and brand recognition
relates to the salience and outreach of the personal brand. As previous research has shown that individuals are gen-
erally accurate perceivers of their social status (Anderson, Srivastava, Beer, Spataro, & Chatman, 2006), a construct
from the same nomological field as PBE, we assert that self-reports can accurately measure an individual’s perception
of the value of their personal brand.
1.2 Relevance of personal brand equity in different occupations
Personal branding has been recognized as an important career competence to achieve success in the contempo-
rary work environment. The studies on personal branding have been conducted on various populations, includ-
ing CEOs (Bendisch et al., 2013; Fetscherin, 2015), sportspeople (Dumont & Ots, 2020; Lobpries, Bennett, &
Brison, 2018), politicians (Speed et al., 2015), journalists (Ottovordemgentschenfelde, 2017; Vallas & Christin, 2018),
GORBATOV ET AL.509
nurses (Trepanier & Gooch, 2014), gig workers (Gandini, 2016), and creatives (Scolere, Pruchniewska, & Duffy, 2018).
Although there is also some research on nonprofessional occupational groups, such as sex workers (Cunningham et al.,
2017; Phua & Caras, 2008), there is not enough evidence to claim that the concept of PBE would equally apply to those
occupational groups. Thus, while PBE can be applied to a wide range of worker populations, white-collar or gig workers
would probably benefit more from PBE than, for instance, blue-collar employees.
There is also evidence that PBE starts developing at very early career stages. Several universities offer personal
branding assignments to undergraduate students (Edmiston, 2014; Robson, 2019; Tymon, Harrison, & Batistic, 2019).
For instance, Tymon et al. (2019) described class assignments requiring students to deliver a “brand me” presentation,
while McCorkle and McCorkle (2012) reported on a personal branding assignment that involved creating a LinkedIn
account. Aside from specific personal branding assignments, students have ample other opportunities to increase their
human capital, including studying, participating in extracurricular activities, or taking up part-time employment (Don-
ald, Baruch, & Ashleigh, 2017). Indeed, Manai and Holmlund (2015) found that students engage in a wide range of
self-marketing activities. Often, such personal branding assignments and activities require students to reflect on their
professional strengths and their relative value in the labor market. Tymon et al. (2019) showed that such assignments
and activities could increase students’ employability-related self-confidence.
1.3 Personal brand equity and related constructs
To contextualize PBE in relation to other constructs, we first considered the self-presentation literature (Goffman,
1956;Leary&Kowalski,1990; Meyrowitz, 1990). Zinko and Rubin (2015) provided an overview of the constructs that
have been studied in the self-presentation literature: reputation, status, image, fame, celebrity, pedigree, legitimacy,
credibility, branding, and impression management.
Reflecting on constructs such as fame, celebrity, and pedigree, we argue that they are closely related to the brand
recognition dimension of PBE. However, these constructs can only be applied to a very narrow category of workers
at higher job levels, such as CEOs (Bendisch et al., 2013; Cottan-Nir & Lehman-Wilzig, 2018). In contrast, PBE offers
broader application possibilities across job levels, functions, and industries. This includes, for instance, self-employed
workers (Gandini, 2016), and academics (Noble, Bentley, Campbell, & Singh, 2010; Paivi & Back, 2017; Van Noorden,
2014) as well as precarious (Vallas & Christin, 2018; Vallas & Cummins, 2015) or stigmatized (Cunningham et al., 2017;
Phua & Caras, 2008) employees. Therefore, we posit that concepts such as popularity, admiration, and prestige are
more appropriate for the workplace context rather than fame, celebrity, and pedigree.
Popularity, admiration, and prestige highlight the same qualities of being known to others, and exhibiting positive
effects and can pertain to anyone, irrespective of organizational and social hierarchies. Popularity in the professional
setting is understood as “being generally accepted by one’s peers” (Scott & Judge, 2009, p. 21), admiration refers to
“an emotion elicited by individuals of competence exceeding standards” (Onu, Kessler, & Smith, 2016, p. 2), and pres-
tige is defined as the “social rank that is granted to individuals who are recognized and respected for their skills, suc-
cess, or knowledge” (Cheng, Tracy, Foulsham, Kingstone, & Henrich, 2013, p. 105). Acceptance or being known are
only some of the facets of the PBE construct, and the concept of popularity does not fully cover the idea of deliver-
ing value or differentiation, which are central to a strong personal brand. Admiration is similar to PBE in conveying
the idea of standing out and having differentiated value. However, admiration is an emotion, whereas PBE, in addition
to emotional factors, also includes cognitive and attitudinal factors. Further, admiration presupposes a degree of ela-
tion or adoration—qualities that are not necessarily associated with PBE. Prestige is concerned with attaining a higher
social rank, while, on the other hand, PBE is not necessarily related to social hierarchy but rather to visibility in the
employment market (Khedher, 2019). Finally, popularity, admiration, and prestige are distinct from PBE because they
can exist independently of the individual’s actions, whereas constructing a personal brand requires agency (Gorbatov
et al., 2018).
510 GORBATOV ET AL.
The same reasoning applies to reputation, that is, “a perceptual identity formed from the collective perceptions of
others” (Zinko, Ferris, Blass, & Laird, 2007, p. 165). PBE is similar in some respects to reputation (Noble et al., 2010;
Schlosser,McPhee, & Forsyth, 2017); however, reputation can existindependently of any conscious attempt to manage
it while deliberate effort is required to create the desired PBE.
Self-promotion is concerned with highlighting one’s “abilities or accomplishments in order to be seen as competent”
(Bolino & Turnley, 1999, p. 190). It is another construct that must be considered as PBE can be seen as a specific type
of self-presentation behavior. Although PBE and self-promotion overlap significantly, self-promotion does not neces-
sarily capture the differentiated nature of PBE, which requires a strategic approach to projecting one’s professional
Finally, PBE is also different from dominance, which is defined as the “induction of fear, through intimidation and
coercion, to attain social rank” (Cheng et al., 2013, p. 105), and it is a socially constructed perception of the self in the
minds of others as a result of self-presentation. However, whereas the goal of PBE is to increase others’ perceptions
of one’s professional value, the goal of dominance is to gain a share of voice or social hierarchy. Although the tactics
to obtain these goals differ, the outcomes of PBE and dominance may be similar (e.g., career success: Parmentier et al.,
2013; Pratto, Stallworth, Sidanius, & Siers, 1997).
PBE is expected to be positively correlated with all these constructs but also to be distinct from them. Therefore,
our first hypothesis is:
Hypothesis 1:PBE is positively related to, but distinct from popularity, admiration, prestige, reputation, self-
promotion, and dominance.
There is also some overlap between PBE and personality based on socioanalytic theory, which views personality
in two ways: from the position of the actor and the position of the observer (Hogan, 1982; Hogan, Hogan, & Roberts,
1996). Hogan et al. (1996) argued that this latter understanding of personality is most pertinent to the study of self-
presentation behaviors. Using the HEXACO model as the conceptual framework for understanding personality (Ash-
ton & Lee, 2005, 2008), we expect that PBE will demonstrate a negative relationship with honesty-humility. Personal
branding requires the proactive promotion of the self vis-à-vis the referent group, while individuals scoring high on
honesty-humility are less preoccupied with using social relationships for personal gain or promoting the self. Indeed,
Bourdage, Wiltshire, and Lee (2015) found a significant negative relationship between self-promotion and honesty-
humility. Extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness to experience should be positively related to PBE as people
who are more ambitious, confident, organized, and imaginative are more likely to engage in proactive career behav-
iors related to the design, promotion, and maintenance of their personal brand (Chiaburu, Stoverink, Li, & Zhang,
2015; Judge & Kammeyer-Mueller, 2012). At the same time, the emotionality and agreeableness factors of person-
ality should not relate to PBE because qualities such as being able to adjust, controlling one’s temper, or being lenient
to others are not associated with one’s personal branding effectiveness. Indeed, previous research has shown that
emotionality is not correlated with self-promotion (Bourdage et al., 2015). Based on these arguments and the previ-
ous empirical findings, we formulated the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2:PBE is (a) positively related to extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness to experience, and (b)
negatively related to honesty-humility.
Considering PBE’s specific focus on achieving success in one’s career, it should also be related to career achieve-
ment aspiration, which is concerned with professional growth and advancement in one’s field (Gray & O’Brien, 2007).
For example,Gregor and O’Brien (2016) found that young women with high career achievement aspirations prioritized
their careers over their partners, giving prominence to recognition in their career and further education. The need for
self-esteem and rewards, which in the career context could be understood as, for example, the desire to be among
the best in one’s field and to obtain promotions in one’s organization, has been recognized as a driver of personal
GORBATOV ET AL.511
branding behaviors (Gioia, Hamilton, & Patvardhan, 2014; Zinko & Rubin, 2015). Thus, to provide further evidence
for the construct validity of the PBE scale, we also tested the relationship between PBE and career achievement
Hypothesis 3:PBE is positively related to career achievement aspiration.
1.4 Personal brand equity, career-related criteria, and job performance
As PBE is a career construct, we expect it to impact several career success indicators, such as subjective career suc-
cess (e.g., perceived career success), employability, and objective career success (e.g., salary progression) as well as
individual job performance. In this paper, we define career success after Arthur, Khapova, and Wilderom (2005)asthe
“accomplishment of desirable work-related outcomes at any point in a person’s work experiences over time” (p. 179),
and it entails both subjective and objective criteria.
Specifically, we expect perceived (or subjective) career success, defined as “appraisals by individuals of their career
success” (Wolff & Moser, 2009, p. 197), to be positively related to PBE. By building PBE, an individual engages in a
variety of activities to analyze and distill personal and professional qualities to create a desired personal brand and
communicate it to the target audience. When individuals understand their personal and professional strengths and
limitations, they have clarity of one’s professional identity, which is associated with subjective career success (Hall,
2002;Ibarra,1999). Personal branding activities also presuppose reflexivity and lead to a better understanding of
one’s professional self, both perceived and desired (Adams, 2003; Wee & Brooks, 2010). Strauss, Griffin, and Parker
(2012) found that the clarity of “future work selves” is positively related to engaging in proactive career behaviors,
which, in turn, have a positive effect on career success (Crant, 2000). Creating PBE isa proactivecareer behavior char-
acteristic of individuals with a boundaryless mindset, which is positively related to the self-perception of career suc-
cess (Guan et al., 2019). Therefore, our fourth hypothesis is:
Hypothesis 4:PBE is positively related to perceived career success.
PBE is also expected to relate to employability, which is defined as “work specific active adaptability that enables
workers to identify and realize career opportunities” (Fugate, Kinicki, & Ashforth, 2004, p. 16). According to Fugate
et al. (2004), employability comprises three components: personal adaptability, career identity, and social and human
capital. These three components are closely linked to PBE. First, individuals with stronger PBE signal a higher degree of
personal adaptability because personal branding requires agency and proactivity (Gorbatov et al., 2018), and, arguably,
those who engage in personal branding are more adaptable to the needs of the ever-changing labor environment.
Second, PBE is likely to be related to career identity because, by its virtue, a personal brand “identifies, clarifies, and
communicates a professional identity” (Cederberg, 2017, p. 183). Indeed, Brooks and Anumudu (2016) demonstrated
how creating one’s personal brand leads to the development of a more coherent professional identity. Finally, PBE is
positively related to an individual’s social and human capital because professional identity is a form of human capi-
tal (Becker, 1993). PBE, as a positive image in the minds of others, constitutes an individual’s social capital, and the
self-promotional activities employed in the creation of that image have been shown to lead to increased employability
(Hazer, 2003). Previous studies have already demonstrated that personal branding is positively related to employabil-
ity (Khedher, 2019; Tymon et al., 2019). Thus, because PBE is the outcome of the personal branding process, it is also
likely to be positively related to employability. Taken together, these arguments lead to the following:
Hypothesis 5:PBE is positively related to perceived employability.
512 GORBATOV ET AL.
Next, it is hypothesized that PBE relates to salary progression, which is one of the indicators of objective career
success. The human (Becker,1993) and social (Seibert, Kraimer, & Liden, 2001) capital theories of success explain how
accumulation of professional knowledge, skills, and experience (i.e., human capital), on the one hand, and information,
resources, and sponsorship embedded in one’s social network (i.e., social capital), on the other hand, lead to higher
earnings. Meta-analytical evidence suggests that social and human capital are significant predictors of an individual’s
salary (Ng, Eby, Sorensen, & Feldman, 2005; Ng & Feldman, 2014; Wolff & Moser, 2009). As explained above, having
PBE implies having high social and human capital that are important for salary progression. This leads us to believe
that PBE is also positively related to salary progression.
Hypothesis 6:PBE is positively related to salary progression.
Finally, we expect PBE to be positively related to both self-rated and other-rated job performance for two reasons.
First, the theory of the reflected best self, which is “based on our perceptions of how others view us” (Roberts, Dutton,
Spreitzer, Heaphy, & Quinn, 2005, p. 712), illuminates how clarity regarding one’s strengths helps individuals perform
at their best and realize their professional potential. PBE, as an outcome of personal branding, is a product of the
internal work of reflecting on one’s personal strengths and the external work of positioning the professional self on
the labor maker. Roberts et al. (2005) argue that the internal work of defining the reflected best self and comparing it
to multiple possible selves, which is part of the personal branding process, leads to optimal functioning at work. Hence,
higher PBE is likely to be associated with higher evaluations of one’s performance.
Second, socioanalytic theory posits that job performance is evaluated through the lens of “rewardingness” or meet-
ing the supervisor’s performance expectations (Hogan & Shelton, 1998, p. 135). Therefore, performance evaluations
are often influenced by how employees are seen by others (Bolino, Long, & Turnley, 2016). Indeed, there is substan-
tive evidence that self-presentation behaviors have a positive impact on job performance ratings (Barrick, Shaffer, &
DeGrassi, 2009). For instance, Hochwarter, Ferris, Zinko, Arnell, and James (2007) found that reputation was posi-
tively related to performance ratings, while Wayne and Liden (1995) demonstrated how impression management had
a positive effect on performance ratings through the supervisor’s liking of the subordinate and the supervisor’s percep-
tions of his or her similarity to the subordinate. PBE is a type of self-presentation behavior that is focused on shaping
others’ perceptions of one’s professional and personal qualities and belongs to the same nomological field as con-
cepts such as impression management and reputation. Consequently, PBE is likely to be associated with other-rated
Hypothesis 7:PBE is positively related to (a) self-rated and (b) other-rated job performance.
In this paper, we aim to develop a reliable and valid measure of PBE that could advance the research in the field. We
followed established procedures for construct measurement and validation (DeVellis, 2012;Hinkin,1998;MacKenzie,
Podsakoff, & Podsakoff, 2011). Based on the PBE definition, in Phase 1, we generated a pool of potential items that was
reviewed by a panel of experts for its face and content validity. In Phase 2, we factor-analyzed the new 12-item scale
and tested its reliability and stability. In Phase 3, we examined the psychometric properties of the new scale, and in
Phase 4, we assessed the convergent and discriminant validity of the PBE scale. Finally, in Phase 5, we established
the criterion-related validity of the PBE scale. Table 1presents an overview of the samples and the key demographic
details, together with the key measured variables. For this study, we performed the online ethics self-assessment of
the School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Based on the outcome of this self-assessment,
no further ethical screening was required. All studies were carried out in accordance with the ethical guidelines of
the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, and the European Union
General Data Protection Regulation. Furthermore, we obtained informed consent from all study participants.
GORBATOV ET AL.513
TAB L E 1 Overview of the study samples and their key demographic characteristics
Sample Description Key demographics Employment status Measures collected
1 Prolific, employed population. N=707; Mage =37.91 (SD =10.28);
female (%) =52.5; 55.3 the UK,
19.8 the USA, 3.8 Canada.
678 (95.9%) employed at an
36 items from the original pool
2MTurk, generalpopulation. N=1,017; Mage =32.69
(SD =10.00); female (%) =46.9;
54.8 the USA, 32.2 India; 2.5
810 (79.6%): employed full-time;
149 (14.7%): part-time; the rest
are unemployed or retired
36 items from the original pool
3 Convenience sample. This sample
was used for another study, so the
measure of PBE was collected for
this paper’s psychometric
N=263; Mage =27.25 (SD =9.49);
female (%) =58.6; 71.9 Dutch,
120 (45.6%): employed part-time; 79
(30%): full-time; 39 (14.8%): not
employed and not looking for
work; and 22 (8.4%): not employed
but looking for work
4Student sample, large public
university in the Netherlands;
2-week time lag.
T1: N=278; Mage =19.53
(SD =1.43); female (%) =30.9;
86.3 Dutch. T2: N=247;
Mage =19.53 (SD =1.46); female
(%) =32.8; 86.6 Dutch.
Students. Work experience (in
years): M=3.10, SD =1.45 at T1
and M=3.14, SD =1.92 at T2.
PBE, career achievement aspiration,
popularity, reputation, prestige,
514 GORBATOV ET AL.
TAB L E 1 (Continued)
Sample Description Key demographics Employment status Measures collected
5 MTurk, employed; 6-week time lag. T1: N=603; Mage =37.81
(SD =10.13); female (%) =44.8;
90.5 USA, 6.0 India. T2: N=349;
Mage =38.44 (SD =10.41); Female
(%) =45.3; 88.8 USA, 7.4 India.
All full-time employed. 96.5% with
3 years of work experiences or
PBE, perceived employability,
perceived career success, job
popularity, reputation, prestige,
6Professional sample; multinational
N=405; Mage =43.80 (SD =9.04);
female (%) =64.9; 56 from the
USA., 4.9 from Germany, the rest
are from 42 different countries
(frequencies <3.5%). Regarding
their educational level, 9.88% had
a Ph.D. degree, 28.15% had a
master’s degree, and 25.43% had a
bachelor’s degree. For the other
participants, data were not
obtained on their educational
All participants were full-time
employed in the firm with a mean
tenure of 8.58 years (SD =7.38).
The mean time in their position
was 2.78 years (SD =2.05).
Seniority-wise: 60.3% were at
supervisory or managerial levels.
Job roles: 42.47% of the
respondents belonged to the
research and development
department, 27.90% were in
commercial, 17.28% were in
support functions, and 12.35%
were in manufacturing.
PBE, perceived employability,
perceived career success,
performance rating, talent
committee performance rating,
Note.PBE=personal brand equity.
GORBATOV ET AL.515
3PHASE 1: ITEM DEVELOPMENT AND CONTENT VALIDITY ASSESSMENT
The items to measure PBE were constructed using a deductive approach (Hinkin, 1998). Drawing on the three facets
of PBE (brand appeal,brand differentiation,andbrand recognition), a pool of 36 items was constructed to capture those
three dimensions (see the Appendix). For example, to measure personal brand recognition, items such as “I am known
outside of my immediate network” and “An expert in my professional field would not think of me first” (reverse-coded)
The items were reviewed for clarity and content validity by an industrial and organizational psychologist and a
marketing professor, which resulted in a few enhancements to the wording to avoid unnecessarily lengthy items, jar-
gon, redundancy, or ambiguity (DeVellis, 2012; MacKenzie et al., 2011). Subsequently, 15 Ph.D. students in the field of
management were asked to complete an electronic survey to test the readability and face validity of the items. Seven
responses were received (a 46% response rate) with minor suggestions for revisions in wording, and all 36 items were
deemed fit for factor and reliability analyses.
4 PHASE 2: FACTOR STRUCTURE
To assess the factor structure and reliability of the PBE scale, a two-step approach was used with two different sam-
ples. Based on Sample 1, the dimensionality of the PBE scale was assessed by submitting the 36 items to an exploratory
factor analysis (EFA), which enabled the composite reliability (CR) of the scale to be tested and a parsimonious set of
items to be established. Sample 2 was then used to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA)of the retained items.
This was done to test the multidimensional nature of the personal brand construct and compare the first-order and
second-order models for fit and parsimony (Johnson, Rosen, & Chang, 2011).
4.1 Phase 2 method
As Fokkema and Greiff (2017) warned against performing the exploratory and confirmatory analyses on the same
sample, we collected two samples for the factor analyses using Prolific and Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Crowd-
sourced samples are now widely used for academic research and are considered reliable and valid, especially for
exploratory research and pilot studies (Buhrmester, Kwang, & Gosling, 2011). All items were rated on a 5-point Lik-
ert scale (1 =strongly disagree,5=strongly agree). In general, scale simplicity is preferred when a new measurement
is developed (Dawis, 1987). Hinkin (1998) advocated for using a 5-item Likert-type scale for such purposes as it
allows for capturing sufficient variance in responses while increasing the number of scale points beyond five does
not result in meaningfully greater coefficient alpha reliability. In Sample 1 (see Table 1for demographic characteris-
tics), 714 responses were collected via Prolific. As much attention in the personal branding literature has been paid
to establishing professional personal brands to gain employment or advance one’s career in an organizational setting
(Evans, 2017), we collected these responses among employed respondents. We removed seven responses that con-
tained missing values. The boxplot and visual analyses did not indicate any further issues. Therefore, the final sample
consisted of 707 respondents. In Sample 2, responses (1,081) were collected using MTurk. After boxplot and visual
analyses, 64 responses were removed (due to outliers, acquiescing answering, and missing values), resulting in a total
sample of 1,017 respondents. No boundary conditions were imposed on the participants as personal branding is not
necessarily specific only to those who have employment (Gandini, 2016; Pagis & Ailon, 2017).
The 36 items generated in Phase 1 were submitted to a series of EFAs to uncover the underlying factor struc-
ture of the PBE scale using the SPSS v.26 software. As several EFAs had to be performed because of the large initial
number of items, Sample 1 was randomly split in half (Sample 1a, N=351; Sample 1b, N=356). These sample sizes
were guided by the conservative advice of Nunnally (1978) that the ratio for EFA should be at least 10:1; another
516 GORBATOV ET AL.
rule-of-thumb suggests the use of 300 cases (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007). The principal axis factoring was applied with
Promax rotation as recommended by Floyd and Widaman (1995). We used the eigenvalue and scree plot methods to
determine the number of factors to be retained (Zickar, 2020).
The CFA tests were performed on Sample 2 (N=1,017) using AMOS v24. Eight models were tested to identify the
model with the best fit: (1) the null baseline model, (2) a one-factor model, (3-5) three different two-factor models,
(6) the uncorrelated factors model, (7) the correlated factors model, and (8) the hierarchical model. Seven indices were
employed to assess model fit (Noar,2003; Schreiber, Nora, Stage, Barlow,& King, 2006). These were chi-square/df ratio
(χ2/df); relative fit indices, including the normed fit index (NFI), incremental fit index (IFI), and Tucker Lewis index (TLI);
the comparative fit index (CFI); and parsimony-adjusted measures, including root mean square error of approximation
(RMSEA) and pof close fit (Pclose). For the χ2/df, which indicates the closeness of fit of the model, a score of 3 or less
indicates a good fit (Kline, 2011). NFI, TLI, and CFI values greater than .95, IFI values greater than .90, and RMSEA
values less than .06 indicate a good fit (Bentler, 1990; Hooper, Coughlan, & Mullen, 2008;Hu&Bentler,1999). Pclose
is a p-value test on RMSEA that must be greater than .05 to reject the null hypothesis that the computed RMSEA is
greater than .06 (indicating a poor fit).
4.2 Phase 2 results
After the first EFA on Sample 1a, we removed 12 (of the 36) items that had loadings <.40 or cross-loadings with less
than .15 difference from the item’s highest factor loading (Worthington & Whittaker, 2006). Then, we removed two
reverse-coded items that loaded on a separate factor and two items with loadings <.40. After removing two more
items with loadings <.40 in two additional EFA iterations, we moved to Sample 1b and proceeded with EFAs on the 18
remaining items. The first EFA with Sample 1b revealed five factors. Based on these results, we removed one item with
a loading <.40 and four additional items that loaded on two separate, nonhypothesized, factors (Items 4, 9, 11, 21, and
22; see the Appendix for the list of items). Next, we removed item 31 “I am frequently contacted by others for advice
or services” (loading .53) that conceptually did not belong to the brand recognition factor that it loaded on, as it did
not measure recognition but the action taken by others based on that awareness. The final EFA with the remaining 12
items resulted in 3 factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0, and four items loading on each factor (see Table 2). The
three factors explained 67% of the total variance in the items. All the loadings were above the minimum cutoff value of
.40 and the highest cross-loading was .21 (Hinkin, 1998). Cronbach’s alpha of the overall scale was .89, and the alphas
for the brand appeal, brand differentiation, and brand recognition subscales were .85, .86, and .93, respectively. These
are all above the minimum cutoff value of .70 (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955).
Ta b l e 3presents the results of the CFAs on the five tested models, using Sample 2. The standardized regression
weights for all the items were above .60 (Table 2). The correlated factors model and the hierarchical model showed
a better model fit than other models, including the one-factor model and all two-factor models, indicating that the
three underlying dimensions are distinguishable. The correlations among the subdimensions for Samples 1 and 2 were
significant (all p’s <.001): appeal and differentiation (r=.62 and r=.60, respectively); differentiation and recognition
(r=.50 and r=.62, respectively); and appeal and recognition (r=.35 and r=.44, respectively).
With a three-factor model, the number of parameters in a correlated factors and a hierarchical model is identical.
Therefore, to be able to compare the two models, we followed Byrne’s (2005) approach and added an equality con-
straint to the residuals of two of the first-level latent factors. Results showed a slightly better fit for the correlated
factors model, ∆χ2(1) =39.68, p<.001. Nevertheless, there are several theoretical arguments for why ahierarchical
model is preferred over a correlated factors model when the first-order factors are substantially correlated (Byrne,
2005). Advocates of hierarchical construct models argue that “they allow for more theoretical parsimony and reduce
model complexity” (Wetzels, Odekerken-Schröder, & van Oppen, 2009, p. 178). According to Bollen (1989), hierar-
chical models allow the first-order factors to covary and account for the corrected errors but provided only that the
model fits the data. Assessing the PBE model fit across the samples, we found that the first-order constructs (brand
GORBATOV ET AL.517
TAB L E 2 Personal brand equity scale items, their factor loading (Sample 1), and standardized regression weights (Sample 2)
Sample 1 Sample 2F1 (brand appeal)
differentiation) F3 (brand recognition)
MSDMSDloading βloading βloading β
I have a positive professional image
4.16 .71 4.04 .79 .95 .64
I have a positive professional
4.24 .68 4.00 .81 .84 .68
I am appealingto workwith. 4.15 .65 4.00 .82 .68 .64
My professional strengths are clear. 4.14 .73 4.03 .81 .57 .62
I am considered a better
professional compared to others.
3.52 .88 3.71 .93 .88 .68
I am regarded as delivering higher
professional value compared to
3.57 .89 3.78 .89 .86 .73
I am a preferred candidate for
projects and tasks.
3.76 .87 3.85 .89 .69 .71
I have a reputation for producing
high value results.
4.02 .84 3.85 .90 .52 .72
My name is well known in my
2.70 1.17 3.54 1.06 .93 .80
I am known in my professional field. 2.96 1.17 3.74 .99 .90 .79
I am known outside of my immediate
2.70 1.19 3.54 1.02 .87 .71
I am often recommended by others
to their professional contacts.
2.85 1.16 3.61 1.00 .81 .71
Cronbach’s alpha .85 .86 .93
Note. The reported EFA loadings are from the pattern matrices (Sample 1b; N=356). Extraction Method: Principal Axis Factoring. Rotation Method: Promax with Kaiser Normalization.
Loadings <.35 are suppressed for better visualization. The reported standardized betas are obtained from a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) (Sample 2; N=1,017).
Addressing the concern of an anonymous reviewer about the similarity of items “I am known in my professional field” and “My name is well known in my professional field,” this study
examined their correlations, variance inflation factors (VIFs), and tolerance across the samples. The VIFs ranged from 1.47 to 3.15, which is below the conservative threshold of 5 (Menard,
1995), suggesting inconsequential collinearity.Thus, it was decided to retain both items as the difference between knowing someone’s name and knowing the person is akin to the difference
between being aware of a brand and having experienced the product.
518 GORBATOV ET AL.
TAB L E 3 Goodness-of-fit indices of the confirmatory factor analysis on the personal brand equity scale (Sample
Models χ2df χ2/df ratio CFI NFI IFI TLI RMSEA Pclose
1. Null 4,693.31*** 66 71.12 – – – – .26 .000
2. One factor 835.31*** 54 15.47 .83 .82 .83 .79 .12 .000
3. Two factors (appeal,
531.59*** 53 10.03 .90 .89 .90 .87 .09 .000
4. Two factors (differentiation,
740.81*** 53 14.00 .85 .84 .85 .82 .11 .000
5. Two factors (recognition,
369.37*** 53 7.00 .93 .92 .93 .92 .08 .000
6. Uncorrelated three factors 583.80*** 54 10.81 .89 .88 .89 .86 .10 .000
7. Correlated three factors 181.21*** 51 3.55 .97 .96 .97 .96 .05 .47
8. Hierarchical three factors 220.89*** 52 4.25 .96 .95 .96 .95 .06 .08
Note.CFI=comparative fit index; NFI =normed fit index; IFI =incremental fit index; TLI =Tucker Lewis index; RMSEA =root
mean square error of approximation; PCLOSE =pof close fit. Model 1, the correlations among the observed variables are
constrained to be 0; Model 2, the personal brand equity (PBE) scale measures one overall factor; Models 3–5, all possible
combinations of two-factor models; Model 6, the three factors of the PBE scale are independent constructs, that is, orthogo-
nal; Model 7, the three factors of the PBE scale are related to one another; and Model 8, a second-order factor accounts for
relations among the three PBE scale factors. In Model 8, the additional degree of freedom results from including an equality
constraint to two of the residuals.
***p<.001; two-tailed tests.
appeal, brand differentiation, and brand recognition) demonstrated adequate internal validity (Table 4presents the
statistics) to be aggregated into a second-level construct. Additionally, a hierarchical model satisfies the compatibility
principle, that is, it allows us to match predictor and outcome variables in the model (Johnson, Rosen, Chang, Djurdje-
vic, & Taing, 2012). These reasons led us to choose the hierarchical construct model for PBE over the correlated factors
5PHASE 3: PSYCHOMETRIC PROPERTIES OF THE SCALE
The goal of Phase 3 was to provide further evidence of the psychometric properties of the PBE scale by testing its
factor structure, reliability, stability, and internal structure.
5.1 Phase 3 method
5.1.1 Participants and procedure
Analyses were conducted on data from 3,273 participants from seven separate samples. Data were collected via
an electronic survey containing the PBE measure, demographic questions, and other measures (see Table 1for an
overview) to examine the psychometric properties of the PBE scale.
Samples1and2. As described in Phase 2.
Sample 3. Three-hundred and forty-three responses were collected via an online survey by emailing a link to
the researchers’ contacts and posting the link on social media. After the initial data analysis, 80 responses were
removed (due to outliers, acquiescing responding, and missing values in key variables), resulting in a total sample of
GORBATOV ET AL.519
TAB L E 4 Personal brand equity model internal validity measures (Samples 3–6)
CR AVE MSV MaxR(H) 1 2 3
Brand appeal .79, .66, .50, .35, .21, .57, .81, .74, .70, .59,
.85, .82 .60, .54 .57, .53 .88, .85 .77, .73
Brand differentiation .82, .79, .54, .49, .48, .57, .83, .82, .57*,.75
.84, .83 .574, .55 .567,.53 .85, .84 .75*,.73
Brand recognition .86, .81, .61, .53, .48, .27, .89, .88, .22** ,.40
.90, .87 .69, .64 .42, .21 .92, .92 .49*,.44
Note. CR =composite reliability; AVE =average variance extracted; MSV =maximum shared variance; MaxR(H) =maximum reliability. The square roots of the AVE values are in bold on
the diagonal. A set of four numbers in each cell refers to the four samples in exactly the same sequence, that is, the first number in each cell relates to Sample 3, second – Sample 4, third –
Sample 5, and fourth – Sample 6. In Samples 4 and 5, Time 1 measures are reported.
*p<.001; two-tailed tests; **p<.10.
520 GORBATOV ET AL.
263 participants (see Table 1for demographic characteristics). This sample was used for another study (Gorbatov,
Khapova, & Lysova, 2019); thus, this paper’s psychometric analyses focused on the measure of PBE.
Sample 4. The responses in this sample were collected at two times, 2 weeks apart from business administration
bachelor’s degree students at a large public Dutch university. The students received research credit for their partici-
pation. As the goal was not to measure the change in the variables but to mitigate common method bias by measuring
the independent and dependent variables separately,2 weeks is a reasonable time difference (Johnson, Rosen, & Djur-
djevic, 2011). At Time 1, 284 responses were received, six of which were duplicates. In each instance, the first response
received was retained. Then, six other responses were deleted that contained missing values. This decision resulted in
a total sample of 278 students. At Time 2, the number of responses collected was 280, of which 33 were duplicates.
Again, only the first responses were retained. The final sample at Time 2 consisted of 247 cases (see Table 1for demo-
Sample 5. The responses in this sample were collected at two times, 6 weeks apart, via the MTurk platform. As
PBE might be affected by work experience, only employed workers were invited for this specific sample. At Time 1,
the number of responses collected was 683. Forty-nine responses were incomplete and therefore removed. Although
only employed MTurk workers were invited, 20 of them reported not being employed and, hence, their answers were
omitted. As an attention check, the scores on the opposite items “I am popular” and “I am not popular” (reverse-coded)
from the popularity scale were compared. Twelve respondents had a difference of three or higher, which was consid-
ered a clear sign of inattentive responding; therefore, those responses were removed. This resulted in 603 complete
responses. At Time 2, the number of responses collected was 349 responses (42% attrition), all of which were complete
(see Table 1for demographic characteristics).
Sample 6. This sample’s data were collected at a large multinational firm. A total of 572 responses were received,
which were then matched with archival data (see the Sample 6 measures section in Phase 5 for details) by a company
representative. As the archival data did not contain full information on all the respondents, the final matched dataset
consisted of 405 cases. To ensure confidentiality, the company representative did not have access to the employees’
responses, and the researchers did not have access to the employees’ identities.
In Samples 3–6, PBE was measured using the 12-item scale developed in the previous phases. To examine its factor
structure in these new data sets, its model fit was determined. The results confirmed adequate fit to the data, with
the CFI statistics ranging from .91 to .95 (average CFI =.93). All items consistently loaded significantly on the respec-
tive latent factor (p’s <.001), and the factor loadings ranged from .46 to .93 across the samples (average factor load-
ing =.74). Again, the fit of the hierarchical model was significantly better than the fit of the one-factor model, where
the CFI statistics ranged from .65 to .72 (average CFI =.70). All the χ2tests comparing the hierarchical and one-factor
models were significant at p<.001. These results supported the hierarchical three-factor structure of the PBE scale
across Samples 3–6, including the two measurements in Samples 4 and 5.
5.2 Phase 3 results
Internal consistency reliability, or the homogeneity of the items within the scale, was assessed by examining the coef-
ficient alpha (DeVellis, 2012) in Samples 3–6. The coefficient alpha estimates of the reliability of the overall PBE scale
ranged from .84 to .91 (M=.88), which can be considered “very good” or “excellent” (DeVellis, 2012). The alphas for
the subscales ranged from .59 to .77 for brand appeal (M=.71), .71 to .76 for brand value (M=.73), and .73 to .83 for
brand recognition (M=.78).
GORBATOV ET AL.521
The stability of the PBE scale was assessed in the short term (two-week time interval) using Sample 4 and in the longer
term (six-week time-interval) using Sample 5. In Sample 4, PBE at Time 1 was significantly correlated with PBE at Time
2(r=.70, p<.001). Sample 5 showed similar results (r=.79, p<.001). Taken together,these results show that the PBE
scale is stable over time (test–retest reliability).
5.2.3 Internal validity
To further establish the construct validity of the PBE scale, we tested the internal convergent and discriminant validity.
To test for internal convergent validity, the average variance extracted (AVE) was calculated, which should be higher
than .50 to demonstrate convergent validity (MacKenzie et al., 2011). Malhotra and Dash (2011) consider AVE to
be a strict conservative measure, claiming that convergent validity can be established statistically through CR val-
ues alone (>.70). Similarly, Fornell and Larcker (1981) asserted that “on the basis of [reliability] alone, the researcher
may conclude that the convergent validity of the construct is adequate, even though more than 50% of the variance
is due to error” (p. 46). Except for the brand appeal and brand differentiation factors in Sample 4, the AVE values for
the three PBE subdimensions met or exceeded the required value of .50 (Table 4). The CR measures for the three sub-
scales were also higher than the cutoff value of .70 or very close to it (CR =.66 in one case). Based on these AVE and
CR values across the three samples, the internal convergent validity of the PBE scale can be established.
For a scale to demonstrate discriminant validity, its maximum shared variance (MSV) must be lower than the AVE,
and the square root of the AVE must be greater than the interconstruct correlations (Hair, Black, Babin, Anderson, &
Tatham, 2014). Table 4shows that, with the exception of brand appeal and differentiation in Sample 4, the MSVs for
all of the PBE scale’s factors are lower than the respective AVE values, and the square root of the AVE exceeds the
correlations between the scales, proving discriminant validity. Therefore, the internal discriminant validity of the PBE
scale is established, which suggests that response biases are likely to be insignificant.
6PHASE 4: CONVERGENT AND DISCRIMINANT VALIDITY EVIDENCE FOR THE
PERSONAL BRAND EQUITY SCALE
To establish external convergent validity, the relationships between PBE and constructs that should be significantly
related to it were examined. Conversely, external discriminant validity is established when PBE has low or null corre-
lations with conceptually dissimilar constructs (Campbell & Fiske, 1959;Hinkin,1998). This study’s convergent valid-
ity analyses centered on the concepts in the nomological field of PBE. It was expected that PBE would be positively
related but distinct from self-promotion, popularity, reputation, prestige, dominance, and admiration (Hypothesis 1).
The convergent and discriminant validity of the PBE scale was also considered using the HEXACO model of person-
ality (Hypothesis 2) and the correlations between the PBE scale and career achievement aspiration (Hypothesis 3).
PBE was not expected to be related to demographic characteristics such as gender or age. However, work experience
should be positively related to PBE.
6.1 Phase 4 method
6.1.1 Sample and measures
The analyses in this phase were performed on Samples 4 and 5. In these samples, the following measures were
collected at Time 1: self-promotion, popularity, reputation, prestige, dominance, admiration, personality, and career
522 GORBATOV ET AL.
achievement aspiration. PBE was measured at both times with the Time 2 measure used for these analyses. The tem-
poral separation mitigates the common method bias that is potentially present when measures are collected in the
same survey (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003). All the responses were collected using a 5-point scale
ranging from 1 (strongly disagree)to5(strongly agree).
Self-promotion was measured with the 6-item scale of Bolino and Turnley (1999).Anexampleitemis“Imakepublic
my talents or qualifications.” Cronbach’s alphas for this scale in Samples 4 and 5 were .81 and .91, respectively.
Popularity was measured using the 8-item scale developed by Scott and Judge (2009). An example item is “I am
socially visible.” Cronbach’s alphas for this scale in Samples 4 and 5 were .83 and .89, respectively.
Reputation was measured with the 12-item scale of Hochwarter et al. (2007). A sample item is “I have a good repu-
tation.” Cronbach’s alphas for this scale in Samples 4 and 5 were .83 and .93, respectively.
Prestige was measured using the 8-item scale of Cheng, Tracy,and Henrich ( 2010). A sample item is “Othersseek my
advice on a variety of matters.” Cronbach’s alphas for this scale in Samples 4 and 5 were .69 and .87, respectively.
Dominance was measured using the 8-item scale of Cheng et al. (2010). A sample item is “I am willing to use aggres-
sive tactics to get my way.” Cronbach’s alphas for this scale in Samples 4 and 5 were .81 and .89, respectively.
Admiration was measured with the 7-item skill subscale of the multidimensional admiration scale from Sarapin,
Christy, Lareau, Krakow, and Jensen (2015). A sample item is “I am outstanding in my field.” Cronbach’s alphas for
this scale in Samples 4 and 5 were .81 and .91, respectively.
Personality (Sample 4 only) was measured with the 24-item Brief HEXACO Inventory developedby De Vries (2013),
which consists of six factors: honesty-humility, emotionality, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and
openness to experience. Cronbach’s alphas for the six factors of the HEXACOscale were, respectively, .40, .49, .53, .41,
.50, and .58. The factors of this brief personality inventory are known to have relatively low alpha reliability because
the items measure different facets within the same broad personality domain. Yet, the test–retest reliability coeffi-
cients and self-other agreement are adequate (de Vries, 2013).
Career achievement aspiration (Sample 4 only) was measured with an 8-item scale developed by Gregor and O’Brien
(2016). An example item is “I plan to obtain many promotions in my organization or business.” Cronbach’s alpha for
this scale was .73.
Participants were asked to indicate their work experience(number of years). The demographic data were retrieved
from the research database using the participants’ unique research number (Sample 4), thus preserving their
anonymity. In Sample 5, the participants reported those data and provided their MTurk ID to allow us to match the
Time 1 and Time 2 data. All Sample 5 measures were presented to the participants in a randomized order.
6.2 Phase 4 results
The bivariate correlations between PBE (measured at Time 2) and other variables (measured at Time 1), presented in
Ta b l e 5, provide evidence of convergent and discriminant validity. In Sample 4, PBE was significantly related to pop-
ularity (r=.38, p<.001), admiration (r=.60, p<.001), prestige (r=.53, p<.001), reputation (r=.52, p<.001),
self-promotion (r=.29, p<.001), dominance (r=.28, p<.001), honesty-humility (r=−.14, p=.02), extraversion
(r=.22, p=.001), conscientiousness (r=.20, p=.002), openness to experience (r=.17, p=.007), and career achieve-
ment aspiration (r=.39, p<.001). Furthermore, PBE was significantly related to work experience (r=.17, p=.008)
but unrelated to age (r=.08, p=.21), gender (r=−.02, p=.82), emotionality (r=−.08, p=.23), and agreeableness
The data from Sample 5 reflected similar findings (Table 6). PBE was significantly related to popularity (r=.65,
p<.001), admiration (r=.72, p<.001), prestige (r=.68, p<.001), reputation (r=.64, p<.001), self-promotion (r=.29,
p<.001), and dominance (r=.14, p=.01). It was unrelated to age (r=.01, p=.92) and gender (r=−.01, p=.85). Thus,
Hypotheses 1–3 were supported.
GORBATOV ET AL.523
TAB L E 5 Means, standard deviations (SD), correlations, and Cronbach’s alphas of the study variables (Sample 4; T1 n=278, T2 n=247)
1. Age 19.53 1.43 278 –
2. Gender 0.69 0.46 278 −.01 –
3. Work experience 3.10 1.92 278 .08 .02 –
4. PBE T1 3.26 0.52 278 .08 −.02 .21** .84
5. PBE T2 3.32 0.52 247 .08 −.01 .17** .70** .86
6. Career achievement
3.89 0.51 278 .09 .08 .10 .42** .39** .73
7. Self-promotion 2.85 0.76 278 −.04 −.01 −.06 .44** .29** .22** .81
3.53 0.60 247 .04 −.03 .19** .50** .63** .32** .24** .71
9. Popularity 3.68 0.53 278 .02 −.01 .24** .39** .38** .21** .35** .39** .83
10. Reputation 3.56 0.46 278 .06 .00 .12 .58** .52** .39** .33** .42** .44** .83
11. Prestige 3.73 0.43 278 .02 .06 .10 .46** .53** .36** .16** .48** .43** .55**
12. Dominance 2.90 0.71 278 .01 .01 .09 .34** .28** .27** .45** .22** .19** .35**
13. Admiration 3.15 0.58 278 .00 −.01 .14*.61** .60** .41** .33** .44** .33** .57**
14. Honesty-humility 3.25 0.70 278 −.04 .08 −.03 −.24** −.14*−.13*−.36** −.13*−.14*−.05
15. Emotionality 2.54 0.75 278 −.01 −.07 −.06 −.08 −.08 −.10 −.04 −.10 −.13*−.17**
16. Extraversion 3.95 0.59 278 −.06 .04 .15*.21** .22** .22** .16** .34** .43** .23**
17. Agreeableness 2.94 0.61 278 −.03 −.08 .09 −.11 −.10 −.24** −.24** −.10 −.08 −.19**
18. Conscientiousness 3.37 0.63 278 −.04 .00 −.05 .20** .20** .21** .05 .13*−.02 .22**
19. Openness to
3.53 0.74 278 .11 .06 .00 .19** .17** .26** .14*.28** .06 .23**
524 GORBATOV ET AL.
TAB L E 5 (Continued)
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
11. Prestige .69
12. Dominance .15*.81
13. Admiration .51** .30** .81
14. Honesty-humility −.06 −.42** −.21** .40
15. Emotionality −.26** −.01 −.21** .10 .49
16. Extraversion .35** .09 .12*.00 −.17** .53
17. Agreeableness −.18** −.47** −.08 .15*−.10 −.06 .41
18. Conscientiousness .16** .01 .11 .05 .11 .12 −.04 .50
19. Openness to
.24** .21** .17** −.14*.05 .19** −.16** .23** .58
Note.PBE=personal brand equity. T1 =Time 1; T2 =Time 2. Cronbach’s alphas are on the diagonal (in bold). Gender is coded as 1 =female and 0 =male.
*p<.05; **p<.01; two-tailed tests.
GORBATOV ET AL.525
TAB L E 6 Means, standard deviations (SD), correlations, and Cronbach’s alphas of the study variables (Sample 5; T1 n=603, T2 n=349)
MSDN1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
1. Age 37.81 10.13 603 –
2. Gender 1.45 .50 603 .16** –
3. PBE T1 3.85 0.69 603 .05 .01 .91
4. PBE T2 3.90 0.65 349 .01 −.01 .79** .90
5. Self-promotion 2.66 1.06 603 −.19** −.16** .33** .29** .91
6. Popularity 3.67 0.78 603 .02 −.03 .68** .65** .34** .89
7. Reputation 4.09 0.61 603 .12** .04 .73** .64** .12** .58** .93
8. Prestige 3.93 0.68 603 .11** −.02 .72** .68** .15** .67** .75** .87
9. Dominance 2.49 0.88 603 −.23** −.18** .19** .14** .59** .21** .06 .06 .89
10. Admiration 3.83 0.79 603 .06 −.01 .76** .72** .33** .68** .69** .69** .22** .91
11. Perceived career success 3.51 0.72 349 −.04 −.01 .54** .63** .30** .51** .39** .43** .18** .59** .84
12. Perceived employability 3.87 0.80 349 −.09 −.06 .64** .72** .28** .57** .51** .60** .17** .60** .63** .86
13. Self-rated job performance 4.28 0.61 349 .18** .06 .57** .51** .01 .42** .70** .59** −.07 .53** .29** .36** .84
Note.PBE=personal brand equity. T1 =Time 1; T2 =Time 2. Cronbach’s alphas are on the diagonal (in bold). Gender is coded as 1 =female and 0 =male.
**p<.01; two-tailed tests.
526 GORBATOV ET AL.
Finally, χ2difference tests were performed via CFA on Sample 4 to determine whether PBE can be distinguished
from popularity, reputation, prestige, dominance, admiration, honesty-humility, extraversion, conscientiousness, and
openness to experience. A lower χ2value for the one-factor model or a nonsignificant χ2difference indicates that the
two constructs may be redundant (Anderson & Gerbing, 1988). As expected, for all the constructs, the two-factor mod-
els (i.e., when the covariance between PBE and the related construct was freely estimated) showed a better fit to the
data than the one-factor models (i.e., when the covariance between PBE and the related construct was set to 1.00):
popularity, ∆χ2(1) =262.38; reputation, ∆χ2(1) =136.24; prestige, ∆χ2(1) =240.31; dominance, ∆χ2(1) =196.31;
admiration, ∆χ2(1) =225.72; honesty-humility, ∆χ2(1) =333.07; extraversion, ∆χ2(1) =251.83; conscientiousness,
∆χ2(1) =246.58; and openness to experience, ∆χ2(1) =242.99 (all p’s <.01). These results provide evidence that PBE
is a construct that is distinct from popularity, reputation, prestige, dominance, admiration, honesty-humility, extraver-
sion, conscientiousness, and openness to experience.
6.2.1 Comparison of personal brand equity levels
The level of PBE was expected to be lower in the student sample (Sample 4) than the employedsamples (Samples 5 and
6) as PBE presupposes the collection of social and human capital, which requires work experience. To test this assump-
tion, an analysis of variance was performed on Samples 4–6 (PBE measures at Time 1 were used in Samples 4 and 5).
There was a significant difference in PBE among the groups: F(2, 1283) =100.37, p<.001, η2=0.14. Tukey’s HSD pair-
wise comparisons with adjusted p-values showed that there were significant differences between the student sample
and the employed Sample 5 (Mean difference =0.59, p<.001, d=0.97) and the employed Sample 6 (Mean differ-
ence =0.58, p<.001, d=1.08). The difference between Samples 5 and 6 was not significant (Mean difference =0.01,
p=.97, d=0.02). These significant differences between groups that theoretically should have distinct levels of PBE
provide further evidence for the construct validity of the PBE scale.
7PHASE 5: CRITERION VALIDITY EVIDENCE FOR THE PERSONAL BRAND EQUITY
The purpose of this phase was to test Hypotheses 4–7 regarding the relationships among PBE, career-related criteria,
and job performance.
7.1 Phase 5 method
7.1.1 Sample and measures
These analyses were performed on Samples 4–6. In all instances, the participants were asked to respond on a 5-point
scale with answers ranging from 1 (strongly disagree)to5(strongly agree), unless indicated otherwise.
Perceived employability was measured in Samples 4–6 with the 5-item scale developed by Berntson and Marklund
(2007). An example item is “My experience is in demand on the labor market.” Cronbach’s alphas were .71 (Sample 4,
T2), .86 (Sample 5, T2), and .83 (Sample 6).
Perceived career success was measured in Samples 5 and 6 with the 4-item scale as used by Turban and Dougherty
(1994). Three items, for example, “How successful has your career been?” had to be answered on a 5-point scale rang-
ing from 1 (very unsuccessful)to5(very successful). The item “Given your age, do you think that your career is ‘on sched-
ule’, or ahead or behind schedule?” was answered on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (behind schedule)to5(ahead of
schedule). Cronbach’s alphas were .84 (Sample 5, T2) and .79 (Sample 6).
GORBATOV ET AL.527
Self-rated job performance was measured in Sample 5 (T2) with a 3-item scale based on Goris, Vaught, and Pettit
(2003). The items were: “How would you rate the quality of your own performance in your job?” “How do you think
your supervisor would rate the quality of your performance?” and “How do you think your colleagues would rate the
quality of your performance?” The responses were collected on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (very poor)to5(excellent).
Cronbach’s alpha was .84.
Performance ratings and salary progression. Supervisor-rated performance ratings, talent committee performance
ratings, and salary progression were collected for Sample 6 through the company’s human resources management
(HRM) system provided to us fully anonymized. The supervisors evaluated the performance of their employees on an
annual basis using a 5-point system, where 1 means “does not meet expectations” and 5 means “exceedsexpectations.” The
supervisors’ ratings were then discussed in a talent committee with other managers, superiors, and human resources
representatives. The employee’s performance is compared to the performance of other employees at a similar level
and, subsequently, deemed high, average, or low. The dummy variables “3″,“2″,and“1″, respectively, were created to
reflect those ratings. Salary progression was operationalized as a percentage change in salary over the past 3 years.
Control variables in Sample 6
The participants’ gender, age, job level, and tenure with the company were provided to the study as demographic vari-
ables. Gender was coded as 0 =female and 1 =male. Age and tenure were indicated in years. The respondents were at
20 different job levels, reflecting the complexity of the job and the degree of accountability for outcomes. For ease of
analysis, those levels were recoded to range from 1 to 20, where 1 would approximately relate to a junior intern and
20 to a senior director. The survey was administered after the performance ratings were entered into the company’s
HRM system (both the ratings from the supervisors and the talent committee ratings), but before they were communi-
cated to the employee, thus preventing any contamination effect. Table 7details the means, standard deviations, and
the correlations among the variables in Sample 6.
7.2 Phase 5 results
Tables 5–7 present the bivariate correlations between PBE and the criterion variables in Samples 4–6. To test the
criterion-related validity of PBE, a series of hierarchical regression analyses were performed. Table 8reports the
results obtained in Samples 4 and 5. In these samples, we examined whether PBE is able to explain a significant part of
the variance in the dependent variables after controlling for age, gender, and the constructs from the same nomologi-
cal field (self-promotion, popularity, reputation, prestige, dominance, and admiration).
Controlled for age and gender, self-promotion, popularity, reputation, prestige, dominance, and admiration
explained a significant part of the variance in perceived employability (Sample 4: ∆F=18.84, p<.001, ∆R2=.32;
Sample 5: ∆F=49.36, p<.001, ∆R2=.46); perceived career success (Sample 5: ∆F=36.03, p<.001, ∆R2=.39); and
self-rated job performance (Sample 5: ∆F=58.44, p<.001, ∆R2=.49). In line with Hypotheses 4 and 5, PBE explained
a significant part of the variance in perceived employability (Sample 4: β=.26, p<.001, ∆F=11.32, p<.001, ∆R2=.03;
Sample 5: β=.26, p<.001, ∆F=12.78, p<.001, ∆R2=.02) and perceived career success (Sample 5: β=.18, p=.02,
∆F=5.38, p=.02, ∆R2=.01) over and above age, gender, and the constructs from the same nomological field. Fur-
thermore, PBE explained a significant part of the variance in self-rated job performance (Sample 5: β=.19, p=.007,
∆F=7.45, p=.007, ∆R2=.01) over and above age, gender, and the constructs from the same nomological field, sup-
porting Hypothesis 7a.
Ta b l e 9reports the results obtained in Sample 6. The results of the regression analyses on Sample 6 further sup-
ported Hypotheses 4 and 5, as PBE explained a significant part of the variance in career success (β=.50, p<.001,
∆F=133.55, p<.001, ∆R2=.25) and perceived employability (β=.49, p<.001, ∆F=132.64, p<.001, ∆R2=.24)
over and above age, gender, and tenure.
528 GORBATOV ET AL.
TAB L E 7 Means, standard deviations (SD), correlations and Cronbach’s alphas of the study variables (Sample 6; n=405)
MSD1 2 3 45678 910
1. Age 43.80 9.04 –
2. Gender .35 .48 .04 –
3. Tenure 8.58 7.38 .49** .07 –
4. Job level 13.13 3.21 .30** .09 .23*** –
5. PBE 3.84 0.55 .02 .06 .06 .05 .88
6. Perceived employability 3.99 0.69 .02 .11*−.10*.17** .49** .83
7. Perceived career success 3.73 0.64 −.03 .03 .03 .22** .50** .42** .79
8. Performance rating 3.24 0.57 −