Internal promotion of Islamic banking offerings at a South African traditional bank: An action research study
This master's thesis report is a record of my action research study conducted at a traditional bank in South Africa. The report follows a narrative writing style. It contains my personal learnings and reflections. In it I record my practices aimed at promoting Islamic banking products of a traditional bank. In undertaking this action research, I employed interventions whereby I improved my own learning and behaviour through practice. This action research took place within the customer facing division of a national traditional bank in the Western Cape. While conducting my situational analysis, I found that front-line employees lacked knowledge and awareness about Islamic banking products, which negatively impacted their attitude and willingness to promote the Islamic banking offering. As the action research progressed, another concern was identified, namely, the lack of awareness of Islamic banking by customers. In order to guide activities that are directed at improving the behaviour of front-line employees and customers, I drew insights from the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) by Icek Ajzen (1991) for my theoretical framework. Observations, interviews and interview schedules were used to collect data and continuously analysed using content analysis and univariate analysis for the respective data types. Evidence was generated by measuring the data against a standard of judgments as required for an action research project. This resulted in the identification of key factors that influence front-line employees' willingness to promote the Islamic banking products. These factors were their attitudes and perceived behavioural control. It was further identified that the lack of awareness by customers had a negative impact on their attitudes towards using the Islamic banking offering. Both issues were addressed, by following the cyclical approach of action research. In order to influence front-line employees' behaviour, with the support of the necessary stakeholders, I implemented internal marketing programmes such as training and development. To increase the level of customer awareness, I implemented activities directed at external customers such as brochures and poster displays within branches. The study finds that through my ethical and political practices, front-line employees were motivated and stakeholders actively participated in planning and executing interventions designed to improve the performance of Islamic banking sales. The practices implemented by myself, as an Islamic banking product champion, were identified as a key influence in the promotion of Islamic banking. I also identified that senior management and middle management influenced front-line employees' acceptance and implementation of internal marketing practices.