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Corporate reputation in management research: a review of the literature and assessment of the concept



The study of reputation figures prominently in management research, yet the increasing number of publications makes it difficult to keep track of this growing body of literature. This paper provides a systematic review of the literature based on a large-scale bibliometric analysis. We draw on bibliographic data of 5885 publications published until 2016, inclusively, and combine co-citation analysis and bibliographic coupling with network visualization. Results show how research on corporate reputation is embedded in the broader field of scholarship on reputation in general. When zooming into the publication cluster on corporate reputation more closely, the concept’s origins in economics, organizational studies, and marketing as well as corresponding theoretical and methodological discussions are revealed. Beyond providing a structured overview of the field, the bibliometric analyses also reveal conceptual incoherencies that lead to ambiguities in research. Our assessment builds on the philosophy of science and is guided by the criteria of good concepts in social sciences. It shows that the concept of corporate reputation lacks internal coherence and could have more theoretical utility. We recommend focusing on corporate reputation as an attitudinal concept and thereby emphasizing the stakeholder who acts as an evaluator of the corporation.
Corporate reputation in management research:
a review of the literature and assessment of the concept
Annika Veh
Markus Go
Rick Vogel
Received: 22 December 2016 / Accepted: 10 October 2018
The Author(s) 2018
Abstract The study of reputation figures prominently in management research, yet
the increasing number of publications makes it difficult to keep track of this growing
body of literature. This paper provides a systematic review of the literature based on
a large-scale bibliometric analysis. We draw on bibliographic data of 5885 publi-
cations published until 2016, inclusively, and combine co-citation analysis and
bibliographic coupling with network visualization. Results show how research on
corporate reputation is embedded in the broader field of scholarship on reputation in
general. When zooming into the publication cluster on corporate reputation more
closely, the concept’s origins in economics, organizational studies, and marketing as
well as corresponding theoretical and methodological discussions are revealed.
Beyond providing a structured overview of the field, the bibliometric analyses also
reveal conceptual incoherencies that lead to ambiguities in research. Our assessment
builds on the philosophy of science and is guided by the criteria of good concepts in
social sciences. It shows that the concept of corporate reputation lacks internal
coherence and could have more theoretical utility. We recommend focusing on
corporate reputation as an attitudinal concept and thereby emphasizing the stake-
holder who acts as an evaluator of the corporation.
Keywords Bibliometrics Bibliographic coupling Co-citation analysis
Concept formation Corporate reputation
&Annika Veh
Department of Economics and Social Sciences, Helmut Schmidt University, Holstenhofweg 85,
22043 Hamburg, Germany
Department of Socioeconomics, University of Hamburg, Von-Melle-Park 9, 20146 Hamburg,
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1 Introduction
Since the 1990s, corporate reputation has figured prominently in management
research (Rindova et al. 2010). Researchers consider the reputation of a corporation
to be its overall appeal (Fombrun 1996), its fame and esteem (Hall 1992), a signal of
key characteristics (Fombrun and Shanley 1990), and attributes derived from past
actions (Weigelt and Camerer 1988, p. 443). Reputation matters also to corporate
practice (e.g., Alniacik et al. 2012; Deephouse and Carter 2005), because it is a
valuable intangible asset (e.g., Deephouse 2000) that may contribute to competitive
advantage (Hall 1992; for an overview of the competitive advantages that a good
reputation can offer to different stakeholder groups, see Schwaiger and Raithel
2014) and to superior financial performance (Roberts and Dowling 2002). Fombrun
et al. (2000) ascribe this dual interest—from both academics and practitioners—to
the popularity of the annual Fortune ranking. Despite being a practitioner’s rating
(Alniacik et al. 2012; Raithel et al. 2010), which was originally not intended for
scholarly study (Deephouse 2000), Fortune’s ‘America’s Most Admired Compa-
nies’’ (AMAC) measurement of reputation is popular among management scholars
too (van Riel and Fombrun 2007).
The importance of reputation in the management research is reflected in the
growing number of publications dealing with this topic. Figure 1shows the
distribution of related publications over the last decades. We performed a data query
in the Scopus
Database by entering the search term ‘‘reputation’’ in the fields of
title, abstract, and keywords of academic publications in the subject area of
Business,Management,and Accounting. The resulting growth curve of scholarly
publications on reputation underscores the popularity of the concept in recent
Fig. 1 Number of publications on reputation in the Scopus
Database, 1969–2016
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management research. As a consequence, it is increasingly difficult to obtain an
overview of the literature, the more so as corporate reputation is applied in several
subfields of management research, builds on different theoretical foundations, is not
clear-cut from similar concepts, and is operationalized in empirical studies in
various ways (e.g., Ali et al. 2015; Dowling 2016). Researchers acknowledge that
‘the concept of corporate reputation remains unclear’’ (Chun 2005, p. 92) and is
‘simple and complex’’ (Lange et al. 2011, p. 154) at the same time.
The vast and varied literature on corporate reputation, which was recently
considered to be in a state of paradigm development (Chun 2005), calls for a
systematic review. The previous qualitative reviews provide valuable insights into
the research field (e.g., Lange et al. 2011; Rindova et al. 2005), but they are
inherently limited, because they are subjective in the selection of relevant literature
and have a limited scope due to the method of narration (e.g., Walker 2010).
Systematic reviews can provide a reasonable alternative (Tranfield et al. 2003). The
advantage of those reviews lies in a ‘‘replicable, scientific, and transparent process’
(Tranfield et al. 2003, p. 209) that enables the researcher to provide ‘‘an audit trail,
justifying his/her conclusions’’ (Tranfield et al. 2003, p. 218). A particular approach
to systematic reviews is bibliometrics, i.e., the quantitative analysis of scholarly
communication through publication (Verbeek et al. 2002). To the best of our
knowledge, the present paper provides the first bibliometric review of corporate
reputation in the management research, thus complementing qualitative reviews and
updating them to the latest publications.
The aim of this review is to provide orientation in the extensive field of research
on corporate reputation and to advance the scholarly understanding of the concept.
For this purpose, we systematically structure the body of literature on corporate
reputation to detect its main trajectories. In contrast to the previous reviews, we
substantially extend the scope of the literature covered by the analysis. Our initial
data set for the bibliometric analysis comprises 5885 articles on reputation. These
data are reduced in a stepwise and systematic manner using the complementary
bibliometric methods of co-citation analysis and bibliographic coupling. At high
levels of abstraction, we detect clusters of foundational and current research on
corporate reputation and show how these strands of research are interconnected. To
further elaborate the conceptual incoherencies revealed by the bibliometric analysis,
we adopt a framework for the assessment of concepts from the philosophy of
science and evaluate the concept of corporate reputation against these criteria. On
this basis, we focus on the approach to conceptualize corporate reputation as an
attitude-like concept, i.e., a concept resulting from the evaluations of its
The remainder of this paper is structured as follows: the next section presents the
data and methods of our bibliometric review. In Sect. 3, we report and visualize the
results of the bibliometric analysis. We first analyze how research on corporate
reputation is embedded in the broader field of scholarship on reputation in general.
Then, we present the more detailed analyses by means of co-citation analysis and
bibliographic coupling. Section 4discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the
concept, substantiated with results of the previous analyses, and offers a
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recommendation on conceptualizing corporate reputation. The paper concludes in
Sect. 5with a discussion of limitations and implications for future research.
2 Data and methods
2.1 Data
We collected our data from Scopus
, which, according to the publisher, is the
largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. Since we were
primarily interested in the field of management research, we limited the query to the
subject area Business,Management,and Accounting. Furthermore, we focused on
publications in English language and included only published articles, articles in
press, conference papers, reviews, books, and book chapters while excluding other
items such as editorials, reports, or letters. With these specifications, we entered the
search term ‘‘reputation’’ in the fields of title, abstract, and keywords of documents
published until 2016, inclusively. This complies with the common practice to start a
bibliometric analysis in a rather broad search setting and to reduce the complexity at
later stages through increasing levels of aggregation. Our initial search resulted in
5885 hits for each of which we downloaded the full bibliographic record including
all references to other documents. Subsequently, these data were thoroughly
corrected, because they usually suffer from inconsistencies, such as contradictory
citation behaviors of authors. For example, books are cited in different languages
and editions, and references may be incorrect due to misspellings and other
mistakes. The corrected data set included 256,189 references to 155,880 different
2.2 Methods
We applied two complementary bibliometric methods. Both methods are used to
analyze co-occurrences in bibliographic data, yet at different levels and with
different implications for the results. First, co-citation analysis combines all
documents within the reference lists of academic publications with each other and
aggregates for each pair of documents within the number of co-occurrences (Small
1973). Documents are thus co-cited when they appear in the same bibliography. Co-
citation analysis is appropriate to uncover the traditions of a research area, because
highly cited documents have a higher probability of co-citation with the other
documents than less frequently cited works. Since the number of citations is to some
extent a function of time, the ‘classics’, which have provided foundations for
subsequent research, figure prominently in co-citation networks. Hence, co-citation
analysis is a ‘dynamic’ procedure, because the number of (co-) citations is not fixed
once the documents are published but may grow over time.
Second, bibliographic coupling counts the number of references that two (or
more) documents share in their bibliographies (Kessler 1963). As opposed to co-
citation analysis, which is conducted at the level of cited references, bibliographic
coupling is an attribute of citing documents: two documents are coupled when they
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have at least one reference in common. Since bibliographic coupling is independent
of the number of received citations, the method has a focus on the present and
covers more recent works than co-citation analysis. The procedure is ‘static’,
because the reference lists do not change once the documents are published. Hence,
the degree to which documents are coupled is definite at the time of publication.
Due to these differences, co-citation analysis and bibliographic coupling produce
different yet complementary results. However, the structure of the aggregated data
is the same: the raw data are reorganized in symmetric matrices with documents as
column and row headers and number of co-occurrences as values. This structure of
the data corresponds to the structure of networks: in the case of co-citation analysis,
the column and row headers (i.e., network nodes) are cited documents and the
values (i.e., network ties) are co-citations of each pair of documents. In contrast, the
method of bibliographic coupling results in network data with citing documents as
nodes and the number of couplings as ties. Accordingly, we used these matrices as
inputs to a network analysis with UCINET Version 6.581. For the detection of
subgroups within the networks, we applied the Girvan–Newman clustering
procedure (Girvan and Newman 2002) as well as categorical core/periphery
partition (Borgatti and Everett 1999). The network graphs were created with a
spring embedding algorithm as provided by the NetDraw software version 2.153.
3 Results: mapping management research on corporate reputation
Our bibliometric analysis resulted in three separate yet interrelated networks. First,
we present the ‘big picture’ of research on reputation in management and business
studies and identify several clusters within this area (Sect. 3.1). The total network of
bibliographic couplings shows how research on corporate reputation is embedded
into, and interacts with, the broader field of related scholarship. Second, we zoom
into the initial network and focus on the main cluster that is concerned with
corporate reputation (Sect. 3.2). Since this is our overriding interest, we carry out
the analysis in greater detail and present networks that result from both co-citation
analysis and bibliographic coupling.
3.1 Reputation in business and management studies: bibliographic coupling
Figure 2shows the total network of bibliographic couplings. As explained in the
previous section, this method is particularly appropriate for mapping the research
front, because it is independent of received citations (which grow only over lengthy
periods of time). The nodes, representing citing documents, are connected to each
other if they share eight or more references with at least three other publications. We
applied this threshold to reduce the complexity of the network and to focus on
academic discussions with a critical level of interrelatedness. Within this still large
body of 786 publications, we extracted the eight clusters of research, which are
highlighted by different node colors. Below, we briefly describe each cluster.
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3.1.1 Cluster 1: corporate reputation
Cluster 1 is the main cluster in the network. It is not only located in the center of the
network, but it is also the largest in terms of assigned publications, accounting for
71% of all nodes in the network. The documents almost exclusively focus on the
analytical level of corporations as carriers of reputation. The cluster captures the
scholarly discourse on measuring and modelling corporate reputation (e.g., Rindova
et al. 2005; Ruiz et al. 2014; Sarstedt et al. 2013; Walsh and Beatty 2007), reviews
the literature (e.g., Ferris et al. 2014; Lange et al. 2011; Walker 2010), and
conceptualizes and defines the concept (e.g., Bitektine 2011; Chun 2005; Dowling
2016). This body of literature will be analyzed in greater detail in Sect. 3.2.
3.1.2 Cluster 2: auditing
Cluster 2 is rooted in accounting and revolves around the topic of auditing. The
concept of reputation is mainly applied in the context of auditing firms and
associated with quality (e.g., Bugeja 2011; Koh et al. 2013; Lim and Tan 2008;
Singh 2013). Auditor reputation proves to be linked to a high quality of auditing
(e.g., Lim et al. 2013; Swanquist and Whited 2015) and reporting (e.g., Cao et al.
2012; Cassell et al. 2016). A central issue is the auditors’ concern for reputation
losses and litigation risks (e.g., Lim and Tan 2008; Park 2015). These concerns can
influence the behavior of auditors (Duh et al. 2009; Larcker and Richardson 2004).
Accordingly, auditors may deal strictly with clients, e.g., leaving a little space for
earnings management (e.g., Hunt and Lulseged 2007), to protect their reputation. In
addition, the influence of the reputation of auditors on their clients is examined.
Auditor reputation can effect takeover premiums for a client’s shareholders (Bugeja
Fig. 2 Network of bibliographic couplings of documents on reputation
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2011), cumulative abnormal returns (Cahan et al. 2009), costs of debt (Cano-
´guez et al. 2015), and stock prices (Numata and Takeda 2010).
3.1.3 Cluster 3: initial public offerings
Cluster 3 is rooted in finance and focuses on the initial public offerings (IPOs).
Hence, most documents relate to the reputation of investment banks or other
underwriters (e.g., Agrawal and Cooper 2010;He2007; Dimovski et al. 2011;Jo
et al. 2007), while a small number of documents in this cluster deals with the
reputation of venture capital firms (e.g., Krishnan et al. 2011; Nahata 2008).
Underwriter reputation is most commonly measured with Carter and Manaster’s
(1990) tombstone ranking (Gygax and Ong 2011, p. 127) or Megginson and Weiss’
(1991) underwriter market share measure (e.g., Chen et al. 2013). Venture capital
firm reputation is most commonly measured by the firm’s backed IPOs (e.g.,
Krishnan et al. 2011; Nahata 2008). A central issue in this cluster is how underwriter
reputation (e.g., Deb 2013; Fernando et al. 2015; Su and Bangassa 2011) or venture
capitalists’ reputation (e.g., Krishnan et al. 2011; Nahata 2008) is related to the
success of IPOs.
3.1.4 Cluster 4: trust
Cluster 4 is concerned with the concept of trust. To a large extent, the documents
assigned to this cluster address the interrelation of corporate reputation—more
specifically, the reputation of sellers, vendors, or suppliers—and trust of consumers
or users. How does seller/vendor/supplier reputation in online markets and exchange
situations affect the formation of consumers’ trust (e.g., Ebert 2009; Kim et al.
2008; Koufaris and Hampton-Sosa 2004; Shareef et al. 2008; Teo and Liu 2007)? A
large amount of research in this area focuses on cases in which the consumer has no
experience with the seller and forms the initial trust (e.g., Chen and Barnes 2007;
Fuller et al. 2007; Koufaris and Hampton-Sosa 2004).
Most commonly, reputation is measured in surveys by a broad set of items (e.g.,
Burda and Teuteberg 2014; Kim et al. 2008; Teo and Liu 2007) and analyzed by
means of structural equation modelling (e.g., Burda and Teuteberg 2014; Kim and
Ahn 2007; Pennington et al. 2003). Beyond trust building, several studies also
address how reputation translates into a purchase intention of consumers (e.g., Dutta
and Bhat 2016; Ponte et al. 2015; Shareef et al. 2008).
3.1.5 Cluster 5: service industries
Cluster 5 focuses on reputation management in service industries. Authors in this
cluster, for example, investigate the relevance of word-of-mouth activities to the
reputational management of theater and music festivals (Luonila et al. 2016),
examine industry-specific dimensions of reputation in retailing services (Ja
and Suomi 2011), and analyze the management of reputation risks in higher
education and retailing services (Suomi and Ja
¨rvinen 2013; Suomi et al. 2014).
These studies are predominantly based on qualitative research designs, such as
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single- and multi-case analysis. The cluster does not encompass the further
operationalizations of reputation, with the exception of Ja
¨rvinen and Suomi’s (2011)
adoption of the RepTrak for private sector firms in a mixed methods approach.
3.1.6 Cluster 6: tourism and hospitality
Cluster 6 concentrates on the significance of online consumer reviews in the tourism
and hospitality industry. Online consumer reviews and ratings have become an
important driver of purchase intentions, especially for experiential goods such as
hotel stays (e.g., Liu and Park 2015; Viglia et al. 2016; Xie et al. 2014). Within this
cluster, researchers discuss two types of reputation: hotel reputation and reviewer
reputation. Hotel reputation is understood as being built through consumer online
reviews and ratings (e.g., Schuckert et al. 2015,2016a), while reviewer reputation is
built through the generated reviews of a consumer (Schuckert et al. 2016b). A high
number of generated reviews are associated with a high reputation of the reviewer
(Liu et al. 2016), because it reflects his or her experience (Schuckert et al. 2016b)
and thus serves as an indicator of the quality of the provided information (Liu and
Park 2015). The consumer-generated online reviews, as electronic word-of-mouth,
are essential to the reputation management of the respective hotel managers (e.g.,
Baka 2016). Accordingly, a central issue is the response management by hotels to
monitor and influence their reputation (e.g., Liu et al. 2015). A good reputation
management of online hotel review sites can, for example, result in a higher
occupancy rate (Viglia et al. 2016).
3.1.7 Cluster 7: electronic commerce
Cluster 7 deals with the online market. Publications assigned to this cluster explore
how reputation systems or mechanisms work in an online environment, most
commonly on the electronic commerce platform ebay (e.g., Bolton et al. 2013;
Hayne et al. 2015; MacInnes et al. 2005). Reputation systems provide information
about sellers and buyers and reduce asymmetric information between both through
feedback mechanisms (e.g., Li and Xiao 2014; Sun and Liu 2010; Zhang et al.
2012). The majority of publications in this cluster focus on how feedback or ratings
in an online market create the reputation of sellers or buyers (e.g., Cabral and
Hortacsu 2010;Li2010; Zhang 2006). For example, some studies regress auction or
transaction prices on feedbacks or ratings (Grund and Gu
¨rtler 2008; Jolivet et al.
2016; Sun and Liu 2010). Other authors apply reputation in experimental settings,
building on trust games as suggested by game theory (e.g., Abraham et al. 2016;
Lumeau et al. 2015) and analyzing the production of feedbacks as a public goods
problem (Bolton et al. 2013; Bolton et al. 2004). This indicates that a considerable
proportion of the allocated documents in this cluster consider how reputation
systems affect trust (e.g., Bolton et al. 2004; Dellarocas 2003; Li and Xiao 2014).
The proximity to Cluster 4 is also evident from the graphical representation of the
bibliographic network (Fig. 2).
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3.1.8 Cluster 8: entrepreneurial networks
Cluster 8 considers the embeddedness of entrepreneurial firms into relational
networks. Most authors in this cluster analyze how an entrepreneur’s success is
contingent on his or her professional network (e.g., Witt 2004). The focus is on how
networks and their reputation can positively influence an entrepreneurial business,
e.g., in terms of growth rates (e.g., Jack 2005; Lechner et al. 2006; Lechner and
Dowling 2003). The reputation of the network can also spill over to the entrepreneur
and enhance his or her personal reputation (e.g., Jack 2005; Witt 2004). Table 1
provides a brief overview of the eight clusters emerging from the bibliographic
coupling of reputation research in management and business studies.
The ‘big picture’ drawn from the analysis of the initial bibliographic network
reveals that reputation is investigated in several subfields of management and
business studies. Hence, we can support the previous reviews, suggesting that the
field is multifaceted (Highhouse et al. 2009). The predominant object as carrier of
reputation is the corporation (especially Clusters 1–4, 6, and 8). The concept also
Table 1 Overview of the clusters
Cluster Cluster
of nodes)
Share of nodes
(in %,
Reputation carrier Central topic regarding
561 71.4 Corporations Theoretical basis,
approaches, and related
concepts (Sect. 3.2.2)
2—Auditing 60 7.6 Corporations (auditing
Auditor’s concern for
reputation loss
3—Initial public
offerings (IPOs)
52 6.6 Corporations
(investment banks,
venture capital
Relation between
reputation and success
of an IPO
4—Trust 75 9.5 Corporations (seller,
vendor, supplier)
Reputation as an
antecedent of trust
4 0.5 Services Reputation management
6—Tourism and
9 1.1 Hotels and review
Customer ratings and
response management
21 2.7 Seller and buyer
Online reputation systems
4 0.5 Corporations and
Influence of network
reputation on
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matters to research on services (Cluster 5). In addition, there is a focus on the
formation of reputation through consumer ratings (Cluster 7). Accordingly, research
across clusters associates diverse attributes with reputation, e.g., quality (Cluster 2),
performance or market share (Cluster 3), prominence and honesty (Cluster 4), or
network capital (Cluster 8). The central Cluster 1 is thus embedded in a diverse field
of research with subject-specific approaches to the concept of reputation. The
distribution of the nodes between the clusters shows that there is a central corporate
reputation theme with corporate reputation being also discussed in specific business
contexts (except for Cluster 4). This can be associated with the phenomenon of
academic silos. Researchers within a silo are isolated in their academic neighbor-
hood naturally citing each other. Once established, the edges between the nodes of a
cluster are strengthened by means of a larger number of edges leading to a
compaction of the silo.
Although Clusters 2–8 refer to reputation, they do not have a narrow focus on
corporate reputation. Therefore, the bibliographic network primarily reveals how
the literature on corporate reputation is currently embedded into the broader field of
research and how closely it relates to other clusters within this field.
3.2 Corporate reputation in business and management studies
We subsequently focus on the first cluster in the total network, because research in
this cluster is more specifically concerned with corporate reputation. First, we
explore the origins and foundations of this research by presenting the results of a co-
citation analysis. And second, we map the research front with the network of
bibliographic couplings.
3.2.1 Co-citation analysis
Figure 3shows the co-citation network of management research on corporate
reputation. As explained in Sect. 2.2, co-citation analysis is appropriate for
exploring the structure of the field in terms of foundational works, because the focus
of this method is on frequently (co-) cited works that have gained the status of
‘classics’ over a long period of time. The diagram depicts the core of the co-citation
network, which we separated from the periphery by means of a categorical core/
periphery partition (Borgatti and Everett 1999). The nodes stand for cited
documents and the edges reflect co-citations. The size of the nodes is proportional
to their degree (i.e., the number of connections to the other nodes in the network).
For reasons of a better readability, we display only network ties that reflect more
than 13 co-citations. This threshold reduces the number of documents to 101 and
enables us to focus on the most central documents that constitute the foundations of
the research field. Although the network core is still very dense and, therefore, does
not subdivide into further clusters, distinct origins of research can be detected.
The network shows that research in the field of corporate reputation is
substantially built on works of a specific researcher: Charles Fombrun. The co-
citation network encompasses seven documents written by Fombrun and co-authors,
among which are the two by far most often cited documents in the center of the
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network (Fombrun 1996; Fombrun and Shanley 1990). The article by Fombrun and
Shanley (1990) has been referred to as a ‘‘tipping point’’ (Carroll 2013,p.2)and
being ‘‘foundational’’ (Walker 2010, p. 359) in research on corporate reputation.
Following this, the book by Fombrun (1996) has been acknowledged as ‘‘the next
major development in the scholarly business literature’’ (Carroll 2013,p.2)on
corporate reputation. It is famous for its definition of corporate reputation (Ruiz
et al. 2014; Wartick 2002), which is described as groundbreaking (Lange et al.
2011), and reads as follows: ‘‘A corporate reputation is a perceptual representation
of a company’s past actions and future prospects that describes the firm’s overall
appeal to all of its key constituents when compared with other leading rivals’
(Fombrun 1996, p. 72).
A closer inspection of the papers in the core of the co-citation network reveals
that three dimensions emerge inductively from the data: a theoretical, a method-
ological, and a conceptual dimension. In the following, we briefly introduce these
three dimensions and delineate how relevant discussions have paved the way for
corporate reputation research. Theoretical dimension The resulting network shows that the roots of
corporate reputation research are multi-theoretical. First, we can detect foundations
from economic game and signaling theory (Spence 1973,1974). Besides
foundational works on signaling theory, the network also contains studies linking
signaling theory with reputational aspects (e.g., Basdeo et al. 2006; Fombrun and
Shanley 1990; Rindova et al. 2005). From this theoretical perspective, corporate
reputation serves as a signal to a firm’s attributes or products (Shapiro 1983).
Weigelt and Camerer (1988) build on game theory and outline how reputation
Fig. 3 Network of co-citation analysis of documents in Cluster 1 (cluster core [13 co-citations)
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emerges from past actions of a party. These actions signalize the attributes of the
Second, corporate reputation research has origins in the resource-based view
(RBV). On one hand, the co-citation network contains seminal papers that have
been foundational to the RBV (Barney 1991; Dierickx and Cool 1989; Wernerfelt
1984). On the other hand, it includes studies that link the RBV with corporate
reputation (e.g., Flanagan and O’Shaughnessy 2005; Hall 1992,1993). For example,
Deephouse (2000) describes (media) reputation as an intangible strategic resource
that can lead to competitive advantage. Research building on the RBV hence
considers reputation as a valuable intangible resource with which superior financial
performance can be achieved (Roberts and Dowling 2002).
Third, the co-citation network reveals that research on corporate reputation has
origins in institutional theory, represented by foundational works (DiMaggio and
Powell 1983; Meyer and Rowan 1977) as well as basic research on legitimacy as a
core aspect of institutional theory (Suchman 1995). Furthermore, some studies in
the network link institutional theory with reputation research (e.g., Rao 1994; Rhee
and Haunschild 2006) and reveal that reputation is connected to social approval
(Staw and Epstein 2000). Thereby, institutional theory fosters an understanding of
how corporate reputation develops in social interactions and can be viewed as a
‘collective awareness and recognition that an organization has accumulated in its
organizational field’’ (Rindova et al. 2005, p. 1034).
The fourth theoretical origin of reputation research is provided by the literature
on social responsibility. The network comprises basic works on stakeholder theory
(Freeman 1984; Mitchell et al. 1997) as well as corporate social responsibility (e.g.,
McWilliams and Siegel 2001; Sen and Bhattacharya 2001) and corporate social
performance (e.g., Carroll 1979; Clarkson 1995; Wood 1991). The latter forms the
conceptual basis for empirical studies that show how corporate social performance
is related to performance indicators such as corporate reputation (Brammer and
Pavelin 2006; Turban and Greening 1997) and financial performance (Griffin and
Mahon 1997; Orlitzky et al. 2003; Waddock and Graves 1997). Methodological dimension Besides theoretically conceptualizing reputa-
tion, a central aspect of corporate reputation research is as to whether and how
reputation can be modelled and measured. Thus, the second foundational dimension
detected in the network relates to methodological issues. Corporate reputation
research draws on general statistical methods in psychology and marketing research
(Baron and Kenny 1986; Hair et al. 1999; Nunnally 1967) and also has
methodological origins in the marketing literature on structural equation models:
the network contains basic research on structural equation models (Anderson and
Gerbing 1988; Bagozzi and Yi 1988; Fornell and Larcker 1981) as well as studies
that apply structural equation models to corporate reputation (e.g., Schwaiger 2004;
Walsh et al. 2009; Walsh and Beatty 2007). Helm (2005) points out that researchers
need to understand the epistemic nature of reputation to model it meaningfully,
either formative or reflective.
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Besides these general methodological issues, the network comprises groundwork
on modelling corporate reputation measures: reputation Quotient
(Fombrun et al.
2000; Gardberg and Fombrun 2002), the Schwaiger model (Schwaiger 2004), and
customer-based reputation (Walsh and Beatty 2007). In addition to these modelling
approaches, foundational works predominantly rely on operationalizations of
reputation using the Fortune index (e.g., Black et al. 2000; Jones et al. 2000;
Srivastava et al. 1997). The main problem is that the Fortune index primarily
reflects reputation as a function of company performance (Fombrun and Shanley
1990; Fryxell and Wang 1994; McGuire et al. 1990). Accordingly, foundational
research deals with the approaches to the determination of a financial halo on
corporate reputation (Brown and Perry 1994; Roberts and Dowling 2002). Conceptual dimension The third foundational dimension of corporate
reputation research is characterized by concepts closely linked to corporate
reputation. The co-citation network comprises several works on the triad of identity,
image, and reputation, which illustrates that these concepts are related to but still
different from each other (Brown et al. 2006; Gioia et al. 2000; Gray and Balmer
1998; Whetten and Mackey 2002). This subject area shows that corporate reputation
research is to a large extent influenced by marketing literature, which describes the
three concepts as distinct mental associations of a corporation (Brown and Dacin
1997; Brown et al. 2006; Walsh et al. 2009). In particular, the network includes
basic works on organizational identity (e.g., Ashfort and Mael 1989; Dutton and
Dukerich 1991), which has been described as comprising the central character and
distinctiveness of the organization and as being relatively stable over time (Albert
and Whetten 1985). Organizational identity hence represents what organizational
members believe the organization to be (Brown et al. 2006).
The network also comprises foundational works on corporate image (e.g., Dutton
et al. 1994; Gatewood et al. 1993) and links it to reputation (e.g., Gotsi and Wilson
2001; Nguyen and Leblanc 2001). The image of a corporation is focused on its
external appearance, with image being an immediate impression (Gray and Balmer
1998). Reputation, in contrast, develops over time (Gotsi and Wilson 2001).
With regard to reputation, both identity and image emphasize that one
corporation is considered. In contrast, in the context of status and reputation,
interorganizational comparisons are fostered (Deephouse and Carter 2005). The
foundations of corporate reputation research address reputational status (Fombrun
and Shanley 1990), organizational status in exchange partner selection (Jensen and
Roy 2008), and the relation of a producer’s status and his product quality (e.g.,
Benjamin and Podolny 1999). In contrast to reputation, status sorts corporations into
high- and low-status groups (Podolny 1993).
The co-citation network systematically reveals the multidimensional origins of
corporate reputation research. While these origins can be traced back to economics
(i.e., signaling and game theory) and organizational science (i.e., RBV, institutional
theory, and stakeholder theory) in the theoretical dimension, they can be traced back
to marketing in the methodological dimension. To complete the bibliometric
analysis, we now move from the past traditions of research (as revealed by co-
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citation analysis) to the current trends (as detected by means of bibliographic
3.2.2 Bibliographic coupling
Figure 4shows the network of bibliographic couplings in the first cluster of the full
network (Fig. 2). This analysis directs the attention from foundational works to
more recent publications at the research front. Again, we separated the core of the
network (Borgatti and Everett 1999) and further reduced it to documents with more
than 13 couplings, which resulted in a network of 125 documents. Since
bibliographic coupling focuses on citing documents, the network represents more
recent research on corporate reputation. We outline these trends primarily along the
dimensions derived in the previous section (i.e., theoretical, methodological, and
conceptual). Theoretical dimension There are two prominent theoretical perspectives
of current research on corporate reputation: the RBV (e.g., De Castro et al. 2006;
Deephouse 2000; Rindova et al. 2010; Rindova and Fombrun 1999; Sur and Sirsly
2013; Toms 2002) and signaling theory (e.g., Basdeo et al. 2006; Delgado-Garcı
et al. 2010; Philippe and Durand 2011; Ponzi et al. 2011; Walsh et al. 2009). To
date, research on corporate reputation still lacks an indigenous theory of reputation
(Ferris et al. 2014).
All documents of the bibliographic coupling network deal with the definition of
corporate reputation to some extent. However, the current research shows that there
is no agreement on one definition (e.g., De Castro et al. 2006; Dowling 2016; Lange
et al. 2011; Walker and Dyck 2014). Within the theoretical dimension of the
Fig. 4 Network of bibliographic couplings of documents in Cluster 1 (cluster core [13 couplings)
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foundations of corporate reputation research (Sect., we found that there is a
multi-theoretical basis, which eventually causes the multitude of definitions in more
recent research (Lange et al. 2011). The results of the bibliometric analysis show
that Fombrun’s (1996) definition is the most popular (e.g., Moura-Leite and Padgett
2014; Reuber and Fischer 2011; Roberts and Dowling 2002). Most of the works in
the network add further aspects to this definition: Fombrun and Shanley’s (1990)
emphasis on the signaling effect of reputation (e.g., Devers et al. 2009) or Hall’s
(1992) resource-oriented perspective on reputation as an intangible asset that
represents fame and esteem (e.g., Deephouse 2000; Deephouse and Carter 2005).
The bibliographic network of the current research also comprises publications
with extant reviews on the variety of definitions of reputation (e.g., Bitektine 2011;
Chun 2005; Dowling 2016; Srivoravilai et al. 2011). Based on their reviews, some
authors develop their own concept of reputation. Lange et al. (2011) describe three
conceptualizations: being known, being known for something, and generalized
favorability. Rindova et al. (2005) describe the two dimensions of reputation:
perceived quality and prominence. Walker (2010) adds the two attributes stability in
time and a positive to negative spectrum to Fombrun’s (1996) central attributes of
reputation: perception, aggregate of all stakeholders, and comparability.
The multitude of definitions of corporate reputation is also apparent with regard
to stakeholders. The definition of Fombrun (1996) emphasizes that reputation is the
sum of all stakeholder perceptions (Walker and Dyck 2014). In contrast, there are
definitions, stating that reputation differs depending on the stakeholder group (e.g.,
Mishina et al. 2012; Ruiz et al. 2014). In this context, the recent studies emphasize
that different groups of stakeholders evaluate different reputational aspects (Ertug
et al. 2016) and that different stakeholders form different judgements on the same
attributes based on their fundamental beliefs (West et al. 2016).
Scholarly research also discusses how corporate reputation may emerge (e.g.,
Fischer and Reuber 2007, Petkova et al. 2008, Rindova et al. 2007) antecedents and
consequences of reputation (see Sect. for more details), which also finds
ground in the commonly used resource-based perspective. While the current
research does not provide a standard definition of corporate reputation, reference to
intangible assets is common (e.g., Chun 2005; Deephouse 2000; Eberl and
Schwaiger 2005; Pfarrer et al. 2010; Ponzi et al. 2011; Rindova et al. 2005,2010;
Roberts and Dowling 2002). Considering reputation as an intangible asset puts
emphasis on the value and performance effect of reputation for the corporation
(Roberts and Dowling 2002). Consequently, perceiving reputation as an intangible
asset is inevitably linked to the RBV (Rindova et al. 2010). Although this
interpretation is widely spread and the performance impact is thoroughly studied
(Rindova et al. 2005), little is known about the attributes that make reputation an
intangible asset (Rindova et al. 2010). The characterization of reputation as such an
asset thus refers to the consequences arising from reputation, but not to the
definitional essentials of reputation. The lack of clarity about what reputation is per
se also leads to problems in operationalizing and measuring reputation (Ponzi et al.
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123 Methodological dimension Closely related to the definition of reputation
is its empirical measurement (Walker 2010); both should correspond to each another
(Kraatz and Love 2006). However, due to the ambiguous nature of the definition of
corporate reputation, there is also pluralism and uncertainty about its measurement
(Chun 2005; Clardy 2012; Dowling 2016; Eberl and Schwaiger 2005). Hence, the
question of how to reasonably measure reputation is still of high interest in the
recent research. This applies all the more as the current discourse on corporate
reputation is dominated by empirical studies (Table 2).
The dominant method—used by more than half of the empirical documents—is
regression analysis followed by structural equation modelling (e.g., Ponzi et al.
2011; Ruiz et al. 2014; Sarstedt et al. 2013; Walsh et al. 2009; Table 2). Researchers
employ various operationalizations to measure corporate reputation: the Fortune
ranking is most frequently used (e.g., Basdeo et al. 2006; Chandler et al. 2013; Love
and Kraatz 2009; Musteen et al. 2010; Pfarrer et al. 2010), followed by the
Reputation Quotient
(e.g., Baldarelli and Gigli 2014), the RepTrak
Pulse (Ponzi
et al. 2011), and the Schwaiger model (Raithel et al. 2010; Eberl and Schwaiger
2005) (Table 2). Reputation is also measured by means of alternative approaches,
such as the coding of news articles (Deephouse 2000; Petkova 2014; Van den
Bogaerd and Aerts 2015), customer satisfaction ratings (Jarmon 2009), or a
corporate credibility index (Zhang and Rezaee 2009).
Although the Fortune ranking is popular in the current research, it is also broadly
criticized (for an overview see e.g., Deephouse 2000). Given the popularity of this
ranking, the subject of a financial halo–detected in the co-citation analysis (Sect.—is also relevant to more recent research on corporate reputation. In this
respect, Roberts and Dowling (2002) differentiate between financial reputation and
residual reputation that includes all non-financial reputation. Consequently, most
up-to-date research that relies on the Fortune ranking controls for the past financial
performance influence (e.g., Basdeo et al. 2006; Musteen et al. 2010; Soana and
Schwizer 2013). By contrast, Eberl and Schwaiger (2005) make the case for
applying a measure of reputation that is free from a financial halo. They construct
one part of corporate reputation as influenced by the past performance and another
part as idiosyncratic.
Another critical aspect of the dominant use of the Fortune ranking can be found
in a comprehensive study by Sarstedt et al. (2013). The authors analyze the top three
of the measurement approaches mentioned above (i.e., Fortune AMAC, Reputation
, and Schwaiger model) and two additional measurement approaches.
They compare these measures in terms of convergent validity, which is part of
construct validity, and criterion validity. Since construct validity assesses whether
the analysis studies the ‘‘correct operational measures for the concept’’ (Yin 2014,
p. 46), this analysis seems particularly interesting in light of the conceptualization
and operationalization of the corporate reputation concept. When comparing the
convergent validity of the models, the Schwaiger model emerges as the best, the
Reputation Quotient
achieves a similar result, but the Fortune AMAC falls
behind (Sarstedt et al. 2013). The Schwaiger model and the Reputation Quotient
also perform better than the Fortune AMAC in terms of criterion validity (Sarstedt
et al. 2013, p. 336). Furthermore, in their study on the RepTrak System, Fombrun
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et al. (2015) reveal the validity of their measure across different stakeholder groups.
For further insights on the pros and cons of reputation measures, see Dowling and
Gardberg (2012).
Regarding the wide dissemination of the Fortune ranking, it should be noted that,
despite all criticism, its popularity is based on the lack of alternatives. For a long
time, no other databases for reputation research have been publicly (free of charge)
available. With regard to the variables employed in the analyses, corporate
reputation is commonly related to performance indicators. For example, the
influence of analyst, CEO, and corporate reputation on cumulative abnormal returns
of a corporation’s stock is analyzed both separately and jointly (Boivie et al. 2016),
or the influence of corporate reputation on net income after tax and depreciation is
examined (Eberl and Schwaiger 2005). Deephouse (2000) analyzes the influence of
media reputation on return on asset, and Raithel et al. (2010) examine the influence
of both cognitive and affective reputation components on the market to book value
as a proxy for firm value. Further influences of reputation that are analyzed are, for
example, related to customer behavior such as loyalty (Badri and Mohaidat 2014;
De Leaniz and Rodrı
´guez 2016; Echchakoui 2016), word-of-mouth (Ruiz et al.
2014; Walsh et al. 2009), and customer support (Srivoravilai et al. 2011). The
influences of customer satisfaction and corporate social responsibility (CSR) on
reputation are frequently analyzed (see below), as are country factors such as the
Table 2 Overview of research in the core of Cluster 1
Number of documents
Type of publication
Empirical 96
Other 29
Type of empirical publication
Quantitative 83
Qualitative 5
Mixed 8
Quantitative analyses
Regression 43
SEM/path models 19
Other 21
Fortune ranking 19
Reputation Quotient
Pulse 8
Schwaiger model 4
Other 42
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country-of-origin (Reuber and Fischer 2011) or institutional development and
national culture (Deephouse et al. 2016).
The analysis of the bibliographic coupling network reveals that customers are one
group of stakeholders on which the current research focuses (e.g., Jarmon 2009;
Rhee and Haunschild 2006; Walsh and Beatty 2007). Dimensions, antecedents, and
consequences of customer-based reputation are theorized and accordingly opera-
tionalized in different ways. For instance, research finds reliability as an antecedent
(e.g., Ruiz et al. 2014) and dimension (Walsh and Beatty 2007) of customer-based
reputation and customer loyalty as a consequence (e.g., De Leaniz and Rodrı
2016; Ruiz et al. 2014; Walsh et al. 2009). Customer satisfaction is theorized as an
antecedent to reputation (e.g., Ruiz et al. 2014; Walsh et al. 2009), as an outcome
variable (Walsh and Beatty 2007), as mediated by reputation (Ganesan and Sridhar
2016), or as a mediator—alongside reputation—between CSR and performance
(Galbreath and Shum 2012; Saeidi et al. 2015). Corporate reputation is also
theorized as a mediator for the relation of CSR or social performance to financial
performance (e.g., Neville et al. 2005; Saeidi et al. 2015). In contrast, the extensive
research on CSR or social performance as drivers of corporate reputation is
consistent (e.g., Brammer and Pavelin 2006; Galbreath 2010; Melo and Garrido-
Morgado 2012; Walker 2010).
The multifaceted discussion about antecedents and consequences goes beyond
customer-based reputation and the relationship of CSR and corporate reputation. In
a meta-analysis, Ali et al. (2015) find that relationships involving antecedents and
consequences of corporate reputation are moderated by country, by the stakeholder
group that is investigated, and by the reputation measure that is employed.
The analysis of the moderating variables is diverse. One moderating variable is a
company’s past reputation. Love and Kraatz (2009) show that higher prior
reputation reduces the loss of reputation in the course of downsizings. Philippe and
Durand (2011) find that corporations with lower prior reputation receive higher
rewards for certain norm-conforming behaviors. Another study analyzes the impact
of product recalls on corporate reputation, which is moderated by the intensity of
competition and the degree of specialization of the corporation (Rhee and
Haunschild 2006).
To summarize, the theoretical uncertainty about the concept of corporate
reputation, as described in the previous section, is also reflected in the efforts of
current research to develop and empirically test measurement models (e.g., de
Castro et al. 2006; Ponzi et al. 2011; Rindova et al. 2005; Walsh and Beatty 2007). Conceptual dimension The conceptual dimension outlined above—focus-
ing on the concepts closely linked to corporate reputation—is no longer a central
issue in the current discourse. Among the few exceptions are Chun’s (2005) review,
making an explicit distinction between reputation, image, and identity, as well as
Balmer’s study (2009), distinguishing reputation from image and identity in light of
corporate marketing. In addition, reputation serves to explain other concepts such as
organizational stigma (Devers et al. 2009).
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It becomes apparent that the current research is characterized by a close
interaction of the theoretical and the methodological dimension. These dimensions
show disagreement on what the definitional aspects of the concept are as well as on
what its antecedents and consequences are. The variety of definitional approaches to
reputation translates into a pluralism also in the methodological dimension. In face
of these conceptual ambiguities, the question arises as to what constitutes a good
concept and how the development of such a concept can be fostered.
4 Discussion: assessment of the corporate reputation concept
The proof of the pudding is in the eating! If this statement is the cornerstone for the
assessment of a concept (Bjørnskov and Sønderskov 2013), corporate reputation
certainly is a successful concept. Our bibliometric analyses underscore this fact. The
initial growth curve (Fig. 1) shows the increasing popularity of reputation in the
management and business literature. However, a more detailed picture of the
theoretical and methodical status quo of the concept (Sects.,
underlines that members of the scholarly community hold heterogeneous percep-
tions about how corporate reputation should be defined and operationalized. In the
other words, reputation means different things for different researchers and proves
to be a ‘moving target’. Not surprisingly, the concept is repeatedly criticized for
lack of a uniform definition and a corresponding operationalization (e.g., Dowling
2016; Eberl and Schwaiger 2005). To date, it remains unclear what corporate
reputation really is. The central dimensions—definition and measurement—of a
popular concept are called into question repeatedly. Therefore, it is necessary to
consider whether reputation is not only a successful but also a ‘good’ concept.
Gerring (1999) derives an evaluation system from the philosophy of science that
he explicitly suggests for the evaluation of concepts in social sciences. The previous
studies have already applied this framework to such concepts (e.g., Bozeman and Su
2015, Bjørnskov and Sønderskov 2013; Hilgers 2011). In the latest publication,
Gerring and Christenson (2017) present a revised version of the framework. In the
present study, we adopt this latest version, because it makes an explicit distinction
between concept formation and empirically oriented operationalization.
Gerring and Christenson’s (2017) evaluation system consists of five criteria for
assessing a concept: (1) resonance; (2) internal coherence; (3) external differen-
tiation; (4) consistency; (5) theoretical utility (for an overview, see Gerring and
Christenson 2017, p. 31–35). For most concepts, a trade-off between individual
criteria is unavoidable (Gerring 1999). ‘‘Concept formation is a fraught exercise—a
set of choices which may have no single ‘best’ solution, but rather a range of more-
or-less acceptable alternatives’’ (Gerring 1999, p. 367). Essentially, concepts are
linguistic instruments whose terms need to be defined (Gerring and Christenson
2017). Only then is a concept applicable to an empirical context by indicators that
enable operationalization (Gerring and Christenson 2017). Suddaby (2010) argues
similarly and emphasizes the necessity of clarity of concepts in the management and
organizational theories: before being concerned with issues of validity, which are
‘empirical questions of operationalization and measurement’’ (Suddaby 2010,
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p. 346), a clear concept is required. The emphasis on the distinction between
definition of concept and operationalization appears reasonable against the backdrop
of the reputation concept. For these reasons, and based on the results of the
bibliometric analyses, we discuss the concept of corporate reputation in two steps:
first, we apply Gerring and Christenson’s (2017) criteria on the status quo of
corporate reputation. Second, we discuss attempts by scholars to clarify the
distinction between definition and operationalization and offer conceptual grounds
following Gerring and Christenson’s (2017) advice to give priority to the theoretical
4.1 Criteria for a good concept
4.1.1 Resonance
The first criterion, resonance, is concerned with the familiarity of a concept
(Gerring and Christenson 2017). This criterion differentiates between two aspects of
a concept, the text of the definition and the label of the concept. Regarding the first
aspect, the corporate reputation concept appears to be comprehensible (Table 3)as
researchers use common language to define it. This is also true for the second
aspect, since the label corporate reputation is a familiar and common term.
Accordingly, it can be concluded that corporate reputation is ‘‘intuitive and simple
in its common usage’’ (Lange et al. 2011, p. 153) and causes a ‘‘cognitive click’
(Gerring 1999, p. 370). Thus, resonance provides the basis for a concept to become
popular. In the context of considerable scholarly work, the popularity of corporate
reputation seems to be given.
4.1.2 Internal coherence
The second criterion, internal coherence, is concerned with the conformability of
attributes ascribed to a concept in the scholarly discourse (Gerring and Christenson
2017). Accordingly, the coherence of attributes of different definitions has to be
considered. The criterion also comprises the depth of a concept (Gerring and
Christenson 2017), which refers to the extent of attributes comprised by a concept
(Gerring 1999). Such attributes are, for example, emotions (Hall 1992) and feelings
(Ferguson et al. 2000), which refer to an affective part of reputation, and knowledge
of (Hall 1992) and thinking (Ferguson et al. 2000) done by stakeholders, which refer
to a cognitive part of reputation (Table 3). In this regard, the concept of corporate
reputation appears to have a certain depth.
Incoherencies between different conceptualizations of corporate reputation in the
research are outlined in Sects. and The results of the bibliometric
analyses show that there is incoherency concerning the scope of corporate
characteristics, the scope of stakeholders whose perceptions create reputation, and
between what reputation is and what its antecedents and consequences are.
Fombrun’s (1996) definition (Table 3)—widely used in the current research on
corporate reputation—refers to general actions of a corporation (Table 3). This
general formulation implies that every action of a corporation contributes to its
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reputation—a fact that has already been criticized by Deephouse and Carter (2005).
Empirical work shows that, in the end, not all actions have implications for
reputation. For example, Karpoff et al. (2005) show that not all actions (in their case
environmental violation) influence a corporation’s reputation, but that it depends on
whether the stakeholder groups are affected by the action. Reuber and Fischer
(2011) analyze discreditable actions of the reputation effects of which depend on
perceived control, certainty, and threat or deviance. In addition, external stakeholder
motivation and media coverage moderate the probability of a loss of reputation.
A further aspect concerning the internal coherence of corporate reputation
concerns coherency within theoretical streams. Rindova and Martins (2012)
demonstrate a certain coherence for the definitions of reputation within beliefs of
reputation as signals, collective perceptions, or positions in rankings, but less across
these streams. In addition, Dowling (2016) provides a comprehensive analysis of
definitions of corporate reputation. It shows the incoherent conceptualizations that
either take reputation as a belief or an evaluation, as a signal about certain aspects,
or as the status of an organization (Dowling 2016). These groupings show that there
is considerable coherence within certain theoretical streams but little coherence
across them.
Table 3provides an overview of definitions of corporate reputation with an
emphasis on evaluations by stakeholders. The definitions focus on the emotions
(Hall 1992), feelings (Ferguson 2002), judgments (Boivie et al. 2016), and
admiration (Dowling 2016) of the evaluator. The definition by Fombrun (1996) also
comprises the company’s past actions, which are criteria for the evaluation by
stakeholders. This may be a reason for the diverse operationalizations of corporate
reputation based on this definition (Sect. 4.1.5). The evaluator’s perspective will be
discussed in more detail in Sect. 4.2.
The internal incoherency of the corporate reputation concept appears to be a
critical factor in the discussion of whether it is a good concept. A concept with high
Table 3 Definitions of corporate reputation
Study Definition
Hall (1992, p. 138; italics
‘Reputation, which represents the knowledge and emotions held by
individuals about, say, a product range, can be a major factor in
achieving competitive advantage through differentiation [].’’
Fombrun (1996, p. 72; italics
‘A corporate reputation is a perceptual representation of a company’s
past actions and future prospects that describes the firm’s overall
appeal to all of its key constituents when compared with other
leading rivals.’
Ferguson et al. (2000, p. 1196;
italics added)
‘In essence, reputation reflects what stakeholders think and feel about a
Boivie et al. (2016, p. 188) ‘We define reputation as a collective social judgment regarding the
quality or capabilities of a focal actor within a specific domain [].’
Dowling (2016, p. 218) ‘A corporate reputation is the admiration and respect a person holds of
an organization at a point in time.’’
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internal coherence bundles characteristics that differentiate it from others (Gerring
and Christenson 2017). Accordingly, the complementary counterpart of this
criterion is external differentiation.
4.1.3 External differentiation
The third criterion, external differentiation, addresses the distinctiveness from the
other closely related concepts and is thus concerned with the boundaries of a
concept (Gerring and Christenson 2017). This study showed that the concept of
corporate reputation is integrated into the field of research with concepts such as
image, identity, and status, and is differentiated from these neighboring concepts
(Sect. The boundaries of the concept remain vague as corporate reputation
is characterized in different ways (Sect. 4.1.2) and is thus not differentiated per se.
This conceptual weakness is directly linked to issues of operationalization: a
concept that lacks a clear differentiation will potentially have multiple operational-
izations (Bjørnskov and Sønderskov 2013; Gerring 1999). As shown in
Sect., this applies to corporate reputation. This diversity reflects uncertainty
about what corporate reputation is all about. Another challenge is that an imprecise
definition of reputation can lead to confusion as to what its antecedents and
consequences are. Ponzi et al. (2011, p. 16) claim ‘‘that the definition of the
construct has been obscured with measurement of its drivers, and antecedents have
been regularly used to measure the construct itself.’’
4.1.4 Consistency
The fourth criterion, consistency, refers to the uniform usage of a concept within one
study (Gerring and Christenson 2017). Concerning the concept of corporate
reputation, this, again, seems to be problematic especially for the relation of
defining and measuring the concept. The operationalization of the corporate
reputation concept into empirically measurable indicators implies a lack of
consistency. An example for the mismatch between defining and measuring
corporate reputation is the combination of Fombrun’s (1996) definition and the
operationalization by means of the Fortune ranking (see, e.g., Moura-Leite and
Padgett 2014; Roberts and Dowling 2002). On one hand, Fombrun’s definition
emphasizes that reputation is the sum of all stakeholder evaluations. On the other
hand, the Fortune index is generated by surveying a certain group of stakeholders
(managers and analysts) (e.g., Deephouse 2000; Ponzi et al. 2011). Therefore, the
empirical focus on only one group appears contradictory, because it conveys a
different theoretical understanding of the concept of corporate reputation. This is an
inconsistency in what Dowling (2016) calls the rater entity of reputation.
4.1.5 Theoretical utility
According to Gerring and Christenson (2017), concepts are the components of
theories. Hence, they ‘‘play a key role within a theory (or theories)’’ (Gerring and
Christenson 2017, p. 34) and are, especially, important for theory development in
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management (Suddaby 2010). In this respect, it is important to ‘‘think about their
function within that theory—its theoretical utility—when choosing terms and
definitions’’ (Gerring and Christenson 2017, p. 34). The utility of the concept of
reputation for a theory finds a little attention in the research. There are a multitude
of different theories with different paradigmatic origins that contribute to the
understanding of reputation (Sects., Some of the studies that review
and integrate various definitions of corporate reputation make first steps towards the
unification of different theoretical perspectives (Ferris et al. 2014; Lange et al. 2011;
Rindova et al. 2005; Walker 2010). However, these attempts do not focus on how
the concept of reputation may contribute to a higher order theory.
Among a few approaches that take the theoretical utility of the concept of
corporate reputation into account is Bitektine’s (2011) social judgment theory.
Reputation—just as legitimacy and status—is a form ‘‘of social judgment that
stakeholders can render with respect to an organization’’ (Bitektine 2011, p. 152). In
a similar vein, Boivie et al. (2016, p. 188) defined reputation as ‘‘collective social
judgment’’ by referring to the generalized favorability of a corporation (Lange et al.
2011). A social judgment is ‘‘an evaluator’s decision or opinion about the social
properties of an organization’’ (Bitektine 2011, p. 152). In this respect, the
assignment of the concept to this theory emphasizes the evaluator’s perspective–
reputation results from a judgment formation of the stakeholder. The judgmental
orientation can already be found in seminal works in the field (Fombrun 1996;
Fombrun and Shanley 1990). It can also be found in the definition on customer-
based reputation, which is defined as an ‘‘attitude-like evaluative judgment of firms’’
(Walsh and Beatty 2007, p. 129). Therefore, the following discussion on the
formation of a reputation concept is guided by theoretical utility.
As our discussion on the status quo of the corporate reputation concept shows,
the criterion internal coherence exhibits the greatest weaknesses. Moreover, a lack
of consistency of the reputation concept arises from extant research, and the
theoretical utility of corporate reputation has not yet been widely reflected. Two
promising approaches—a current review (Dowling 2016) and a conceptual and
empirical approach (Schwaiger 2004)—thoroughly examine the issue of lacking fit
between definition and measurement of corporate reputation and are discussed in
Sect. 4.2. Our discussion is guided by the aim of increasing internal coherence. We
also respond to Gerring and Christenson’s (2017) recommendations according to
which a purely conceptual view, free from empiricism, is the first necessary step in
the formation of a concept. A focus on the evaluator’s perspective seems a
promising approach towards a better conceptualization.
4.2 Conceptualizing corporate reputation from an evaluator’s perspective
We draw on the two studies by Dowling (2016) and Schwaiger (2004), because
Dowling’s approach resonates with Gerring and Christenson’s (2017) proposed
process for concept formation, and the definition by Schwaiger is close to Dowling’s
results and, in addition, has already been operationalized.
The recommendation is to begin the process of concept formation by reviewing
several definitions and to extract repeated ‘‘standard elements’’ (Gerring and
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Christenson 2017, p. 35). A comprehensive review of definitions of corporate
reputation shows that this holds true for the attributes ‘‘beliefs’’ and/or ‘‘evaluation’
(Dowling 2016, p. 213). Thus, most definitions see reputation as cognitive or
affective evaluations, which, when they coincide, correspond to an attitude
(Dowling 2016). Schwaiger (2004) already stresses this aspect by referring to the
definition of Hall (1992), who refers to reputation as ‘‘knowledge and emotions held
by individuals’’ (Hall 1992, p. 138). Schwaiger (2004, p. 49) puts an emphasis on
conceptualizing ‘‘corporate reputation as an attitudinal construct’’ that combines
affective and cognitive components ‘‘where attitude denotes subjective, emotional,
and cognitive-based mindsets’’.
After reviewing the existing definitions, Dowling (2016, p. 217) ‘‘backwards
engineer[s]’’ a definition with attributes from the RepTrek Pulse measure. However,
this backward direction contradicts the recommendation of concept formation
(Gerring and Christenson 2017). After extracting the most common attributes of a
concept, it is a common approach to formulate a minimal definition with the
‘specific component of the term that nearly everyone agrees upon’’ (Gerring and
Christenson 2017, p. 37). Hence, this again leads to the idea of the attitudinal
construct by Schwaiger (2004). Based on the recommendations for concept
formation by Gerring and Christenson (2017), we would advise to adhere to the
definition of reputation as an attitudinal construct (with a cognitive and an affective
component) that a person holds of an organization. Only after operationalizing and
empirically measuring corporate reputation, Schwaiger (2004) reifies the cognitive
component as competence and the affective as likeability. Referring to a person,
places the concept on an individual level. Dowling (2016) discusses how this
resonates with a collective level.
Conceptualizing corporate reputation as an attitudinal concept places a clear
focus on the evaluator perspective (Sects. 4.1.2,4.1.5). An important but
underrepresented aspect in the research on corporate reputation is the theoretical
utility of this concept. With emphasizing the evaluator perspective, corporate
reputation is linked to social judgement theory (Sect. 4.1.5). The focus on attitudinal
aspects puts an emphasis on the evaluator at the conceptual level. Reputation results
from an evaluation. This evaluation is about the attributes of the corporation. The
separation of the attributes of the corporation and the attitudes of the evaluator
should positively contribute to the coherence and differentiation of the concept. This
makes it easier to distinguish between antecedents and the actual concept. The
attributes of the corporation act as evaluation criteria. Corporate reputation,
however, is an attitudinal construct resulting from evaluation.
Based on the above reasoning, consistency should be improved. If the concept is
more precise (improved internal consistency), it should also be easier to arrive at an
operationalization. Therefore, our proposal is to follow Gerring and Christenson
(2017) and to make a clear distinction between conceptualization and operational-
ization with an initial emphasis on issues of conceptualization. In summary, we
argue that the emphasis on the theoretical embedding of the concept with a focus on
the evaluator can increase the coherence and differentiation and, in turn, the overall
consistency of the corporate reputation concept.
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5 Conclusion
The aim of this paper was to review research on corporate reputation within
management and business studies and to advance the scholarly understanding of the
concept. The mere extent of research on reputation in management and business
studies suggests that this concept has much resonance in the scholarly community.
While available reviews take qualitative approaches with narrative methods, we
applied bibliometric methods to arrive at a systematic review. This approach is
especially useful when extensive bodies of literature challenge researchers to keep
pace with an ever-increasing amount of publications. This is clearly the case with
corporate reputation. With a focus on both past traditions and current trends, and
supported by network visualizations, we extracted the several maps of research that
offer orientation for both experienced scholars in and newcomers to the field.
However, despite the higher objectivity and replicability as compared to qualitative
reviews, bibliometric methods do not substitute for careful interpretations and
evaluations of the findings.
Beyond pioneering bibliometric analyses of the literature on corporate reputation
and providing an updated review by including publications until 2016, inclusively,
our study also contributes to research in more conceptual terms. While the existing
reviews integrate a diversity of different theoretical perspectives (Ferris et al. 2014;
Lange et al. 2011; Rindova et al. 2005; Walker 2010), we focus on the utility of the
corporate reputation concept for theory building (Sect. 4.1.5). While the misfit
between conceptualization and operationalization has already been stressed in the
previous studies (e.g., Chun 2005), we offer criteria for concept evaluation from
social sciences—which is also in contrast to the review by Dowling (2016)—to
advance the concept. Another approach to concept evaluation is taken by Sarstedt
et al. (2013), who make use of criterion and convergence validity that focuses on
evaluating measurement approaches on reputation, and who also favor the
Schwaiger Model (see Sect. for respective results). In their most recent
work, Gerring and Christenson (2017) emphasize the distinction between the
description of a theoretical concept and the subsequent empirical focus, which
seems important for corporate reputation. We suggest re-focusing on the concept
itself and addressing potential operationalization only in a second step. In contrast to
the previous reviews, we contribute a conceptualization that is guided by theory on
the assessment of concepts and concept formation.
Several findings of our bibliometric analysis are worth highlighting. First, we find
that corporate reputation research is embedded in a diverse field of research with
subject-specific conceptualizations. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to
reveal and visualize the ‘big picture’ of research on reputation in the management
and business studies.
Second, while our analysis updates and expands on qualitative reviews in terms
of covered literature, some of our results confirm the previous findings and
assumptions. For example, the results of co-citation analysis reveal the disciplinary
origins of corporate reputation research in economics, organizational science, and
marketing research, as well as the theoretical heritage of signaling and game theory,
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RBV, institutional theory, and stakeholder theory. Since this resonates with the
reviews by Bergh et al. (2010) and Walker (2010), we are confident that the results
of the bibliometric analyses have a high validity. The co-citation method does not
only reveal the theoretical foundations but also the importance of neighboring
concepts such as image, identity, and status. This is important for the discussion of
the differentiation of the corporate reputation concept.
Third, the bibliographic coupling analysis enables us to reveal the core and
forefront of research on corporate reputation in a structured manner. The network of
bibliographic couplings displays that the current research is predominantly
empirical, resulting in evermore new empirical results. On one hand, this leads to
an accumulation of attributes and perceptions related to corporate reputation, but, on
the other hand, it also leads to a less precise notion of what constitutes corporate
reputation as a whole. More theoretically, derived conceptual work could help to
advance research on corporate reputation towards integration.
We find that the criterion internal coherence reflects the detected ambiguities in
the theoretical and methodological dimension of corporate reputation, while the
criterion theoretical utility reveals that reputation as a concept in the field of a
higher order theory is less studied. The combination of both allows for a simple yet
important conclusion for future research: scholars should clearly distinguish
between the attributes of the corporation, on one hand, and the evaluations of the
stakeholders, on the other hand. By following Gerring and Christenson’s (2017)
advice on concept formation, we recommend focusing on corporate reputation as an
attitudinal concept and thereby emphasizing the evaluator’s perspective as
theoretical ground. This represents an attempt to overcome deficiencies in
coherence, differentiation, consistency, and theoretical utility of the corporate
reputation concept. If the reputation concept itself is approached in this manner, a
clear distinction should be made in that the attributes of the corporation are not part
of the concept itself but rather the criteria of evaluation.
While this is important to achieve the aim of increasing the scholarly
understanding of what reputation is, future research can be inspired to investigate
how evaluations are formed. For example, Mishina et al. (2012) seek to explore the
‘socio-cognitive processes that shape the formation of organizational reputations’
(p. 460), which is a central aspect in social judgment theory (Bitektine 2011).
Furthermore, we recommend future research to also consider the consistency
between the concept of reputation and its operationalization more carefully (see
Sect. 4.1.4). The popular definition by Fombrun (1996) combined with the equally
popular operationalization based on the Fortune ranking leads to a mismatch.
Limitations should be taken into account for the conceptual evaluation as well as
for the bibliometric method. It should be noted that Gerring and Christenson’s
(2017) criteria for the assessment of a concept represent a positivistic approach.
Gerring admits that ‘‘overlapping definitions, internal contradictions between
definitional properties, and imprecise operationalizations’’ (Gerring 1999, p. 392)
may be inherent to the formation of concepts in social sciences. Nevertheless, his
proposed set of criteria reduces the uncertainty in concept formation.
Although bibliometric methods provide a systematic approach to reviewing
literature, they have some limitations worth acknowledging. First, the raw data of
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bibliometric analyses have to be successively reduced to arrive at high levels of
aggregation, which requires researchers to define and apply selection criteria and
thresholds. Accordingly, the extracted clusters—and those that remain invisible—in
part depend on such technical parameters that are determined by the researchers.
Second, bibliometric methods quantify citations without accounting for the
intention of the authors’ citation behavior. For example, no distinction can be
made between positive (i.e., confirmative) and negative (i.e., critical) citations.
However, on a large-scale database and at high levels of aggregation, deviant
citation behaviors tend to be marginalized, and positive citations for the purpose of
substantiating arguments prove to be predominant. And third, the method of
bibliographic coupling tends to overstate works with relatively extensive bibliogra-
phies. This is due to the fact that the probability of intersections with other papers
(i.e., bibliographic couplings) increases with the amount of references. Another
limitation lies in the Scopus Database itself, which predominantly comprises journal
articles but less books or book chapters.
Despite these limitations, we believe that our bibliometric review is a reasonable
complement to qualitative reviews, because it provides structured and replicable
insights into, and overviews of, the foundations and trends in the management
research on corporate reputation. Overall, our review shows that corporate
reputation is still far from being a uniform concept, leading to a variety of—
sometimes unsuitable—operationalizations. Guided by the bibliometric analyses,
we provide future research with inspiration to improve conceptual clarity and help
in overcoming deficiencies in operationalization.
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Business Research
... Following corporate scandals at the beginning of the millennium (e.g., Enron, Worldcom) the importance of a good corporate reputation has never been greater (Smith et al. 2010;Veh et al. 2019). When a corporation faces suspicious behaviour or allegations of business misconduct and fraud, one of the most important intangible assets the company might have to lose is its reputation, which is fundamental to its business activities and to the firm's stakeholders including customers, suppliers, investors, and lenders, among others (Hemphill 2006;Gottschalk 2011;Aguilera-Caracuel and Guerrero-Villegas 2018). ...
... Until now, there is no commonly accepted definition of corporate reputation (See Veh et al. 2019). Fombrun (1996, p. 72) contends that corporate reputation is "a perceptual representation of a company's past actions and future prospects that describe the firm's overall appeal to all its key stakeholders when compared to other leading rivals". ...
... Higher scores represent better reputation. The "World's Most Admired Companies" list is by far the most widely-used measure of company reputation in academic research, presumably because it is an independent, publicly available 10 measure that covers a large number of companies and embodies the construct of "reputation" (Fombrun and Shanley 1990;Roberts and Dowling 2002;Smith et al. 2010;Veh et al. 2019). ...
Prior studies on the relationship between ESG information and cost of debt have found mixed results. They conclude that this relationship may be affected by some characteristics or attributes of the company. In this study, we examine whether corporate reputation mediates the relationship between ESG information and cost of debt. In other words, this study explores how ESG information influences corporate reputation, and how, in turn, corporate reputation affects the cost of debt financing. Data for corporate reputation were obtained from the Fortune "World's Most Admired Companies" List, whereas data on ESG information were extracted from two sources: ESG performance were obtained from Sustainalytics database and ESG disclosure were obtained from Bloomberg database. Data on cost of debt and other control variables were also collected from Bloomberg database. Using structural equation models, we report a positive effect of both ESG performance and disclosure on corporate reputation. We also find that a good corporate reputation reduces the cost of debt financing and mediates the relationship between ESG performance/disclosure and cost of debt. We therefore conclude that firms that manage and disclose information on ESG issues have a better reputation, which in turn reduces their debt financing costs.
... For a recent literature review, see, for example, [134,135]. ...
... The authors of [139] used four dimensions (performative, ethical, procedural, and technical) for measuring reputation in public administrations. A detailed literature review is covered, among others, by [134,[140][141][142][143][144]. ...
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Quality of life (QoL) is both a main concern of good local governance and an indicator of city performance. A key question to answer is that of what resources have the potential to enhance city performance, thus providing added value to stakeholders. By adopting a resource-based view (RBV), this paper explores the relationships between a group of strategic resources (e-government, transparency, and reputation) and QoL in a sample of 78 Spanish municipalities. Our study makes a contribution by providing an original design of a set of relations among our own selected resources and between them and quality of life. In order to test those relations, we define and create four constructs by using four different data sources and structural equation modeling (SEM). The results show a positive influence of resources on QoL, which is supported by a number of positive direct and indirect interactions among them. This means that municipalities with better strategic resources in local governments exhibit a higher level of quality of life.
... e edge computing device is featured with low data transmission delay and strong computing power. It can quickly calculate the supply chain, help the terminal device to generate encrypted data, and back up the corresponding data [26][27][28]. Each piece of data will be stored in the blockchain to achieve the functions of decentralization, tamper-proof, and traceability, thereby ensuring the security of supply chain data. ...
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Aiming at improving the enterprise performance and venture capital management, the edge computing is combined with blockchain technology in the construction of the supply chains so as to improve the stability and security of raw material supply chains of venture capital enterprises. Firstly, the relationships among venture capital, enterprise performance, and supply chain integration are analyzed, and the positive impacts of optimization and innovation of supply chain technology and venture capital on enterprise performance improvement are discussed. Secondly, the edge computing and blockchain technology are adopted to optimize the supply chain, and a protocol model is established to improve the security of supply chain information transmission. In addition, the supply chain Internet of Things (IoT) system is designed in layers based on blockchain and edge computing technology. Finally, the designed protocol model is applied to the supply chain and the supplier performance is evaluated by using the fuzzy analytic hierarchy process (FAHP). The results show that the gas value of the designed protocol model is stable at 104,000∼116,000 in blockchain transactions, and the execution time of a single blockchain transaction fluctuates between 4,300 and 6,100 ms. Therefore, the designed protocol model can effectively ensure the security of supply chain data during the transmission. The evaluation results of supplier performance suggest that the cooperative relationship between venture capital enterprises and suppliers is affected by many factors. Optimizing the supply chain structure and production activities can improve the performance of suppliers and venture capital enterprises. This work provides a reference for analyzing the performance of blockchain technology on venture capital enterprises and suppliers.
... Corporate reputation has been studied from different perspectives which has led to different definitions and measures (Lange et al., 2011;Schaarschmidt and Könsgen, 2020;Veh et al., 2018;Walker, 2010). Here, reputation is defined as 'a set of attributes ascribed to a firm, inferred from the firm's past actions' (Weigelt and Camerer, 1988, p. 443). ...
Prior work suggests that employee views of corporate reputation can influence a firm’s future financial performance and that previous financial performance can also influence employee views of reputation. What is not known is which is the greater effect, or whether the virtuous circle this implies might exist, particularly in smaller firms. The aim of this paper is to test the idea of a virtuous circle linking employee views of reputation (at two levels in the organization, senior managers and front-line employees) to firm performance. Data from a survey of employees in SME Spanish accounting audit firms were used to test a model derived from theory and prior work. We find that managers’ and employees’ views of reputation are each influenced by prior financial performance, employees more indirectly via the views of their managers. The influence of managers’ views on those of employees was in turn significant. However, the influence of both on future performance was less significant, with the views of managers having the greater effect.
... This is in addition to its role in retaining distinguished employees, the ability to attract the best talent, raising morale, and expansion in the work environment (Kingsley & Onuoha, 2019;Aula & Mantere, 2020;Waeraas & Dahle, 2020). Interestingly, the importance of organizational reputation lies in improving customer satisfaction and increasing their awareness and understanding of the products offered by companies (Croucher et al., 2019;Veh et al., 2019). It also contributes to preserving the company's resources and forming a network of relationships that support the success of the company. ...
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This study aimed to assess the impact of strategic renewal on both organizational identification and organizational reputation. It also aimed to explore the mediating role of organizational identification in the relationship between strategic renewal and organizational reputation in Egyptian travel agents. Partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) was employed to analyze the perceptions of 404 managers in Egyptian travel agents. The findings indicated that strategic renewal affects significantly and positively both organizational identification and organizational reputation. Moreover, organizational identification affects significantly and positively organizational reputation. The findings also showed that organizational identification plays a mediating role in enhancing the link between strategic renewal and organizational reputation in travel agents.
... Given this literature and the extensive damage that reputational scandals can impose on individual insurers, as well as the overall insurance industry, the lack of academic research on the reputational risks in financial industries and especially in insurance is quite surprising (Veh et al., 2019;Zaby and Pohl, 2019;Will et al., 2017;Schanz, 2006). The critique of Overbay (2003, p. 1) still holds that "reputational risk management (RRM) is poorly understood in the risk management and insurance community". ...
Purpose This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms that evolve during reputational scandals and lead to changes in industry regulation. It explores the processes by which a demand for external industry regulation evolves, also addressing the consequences of firms’ competitive behaviors which lead to substantial misbehavior and the destruction of reputational capital. The authors are interested in whether and how regulatory activities – in the case analyzed here, changes in insurance regulation regarding sales commissions for insurance brokers – are used as a costly, external behavioral control mechanism (third-loop learning) to terminate a reputational scandal that cannot be stopped by internal controls at a firm level (first-loop and second-loop learning) anymore. Design/methodology/approach The paper explores a real-life case in the German insurance industry that peaked in 2012 and has been well documented by broad media coverage, complemented by interviews with leading industry representatives. Using causal process tracing as a methodology, the authors study the factors in the case that led to an industry scandal. The authors further analyze why the insurance firms involved were not able to limit the scandal’s impact by internally controlling their behaviors, but had to call for external regulation, thus imposing costly restrictions on sales and contract processes. To identify the mechanisms underlying this result, theories from the fields of economics (game theory) and sociology (vicious cycle of bureaucracies), as well as organizational learning theory, are used. Findings The authors find that individual rationality does not suffice to prevent insurance firms from scandalous business practices, e.g. via implementing appropriate internal behavioral control measures within their organizations. If, as a result, misbehavior leads to reputational scandals, and the destruction of reputational capital spills over to the whole industry, a vicious cycle is set in motion which can be terminated by regulation as an externally enforced control mechanism. Research limitations/implications This study is limited to the analysis of a single case study, combining published materials, e.g. broad media coverage, with interviews from representatives of the insurance industry. Nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms that have been identified can be used in other case studies as well. Practical implications The paper shows that if firms want to avoid increasing regulation, they must implement strong reputational risk management (RRM) to counteract short-term profit pressure and to avoid restrictive regulation imposed on the industry as a whole. Furthermore, it sheds light on the relevance of spillover effects for RRM, as not only employee behavior within an organization might lead to the destruction of reputational capital but also that from other firms, e.g. from elsewhere within an industry. Originality/value The paper contributes by emphasizing a direct causal link between corporate scandals, loss of reputation and regulatory change within the insurance industry. Furthermore, the paper contributes by combining economic theories with organizational theories to understand real-life phenomena.
... Nevertheless, branding and reputation are seen as essential aspects of SME strategies to cope with the existent market conditions (Abimbola and Kocak 2007) and strategic CSR, implicating a reliable and strong sustainability attitude with associated organizational change, opens up competitive advantages for SMEs (Gelbmann 2010, 95 Within this thesis, CR is viewed as a theoretical construct and the primary focus lies in utilizing these insights to arrive at a credible standing, rather than its measurement. Veh, Göbel, and Vogel (2019) provide a comprehensive systematic literature review on CR and find following diverse theoretical origins of the concept in economics, organizational science and marketing research (ibid. pp.339), more precisely in: (a) game and signaling theory, where CR serves as a signal to an organization's attributes or products, (b) resource-based view, where CR is seen as an intangible strategic resource that can lead to competitive advantage, (c) institutional theory, which argues that the concept is connected to social approval and frames it as collective awareness and recognition that an organization has accumulated in its field, and (d) social responsibility, stemming from stakeholder theory and CSR, focusing on an organization's social performance (ibid. ...
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This thesis approaches sustainability integration in European SMEs from multiple disciplines and adopts an evolutionary perspective of organizations. As SMEs account for the majority of businesses globally and within the European Union they are seen as decisive contributors for sustainable development. Much research focuses primarily on middle-sized and larger organizations, leaving out a graspable understanding of which organizational traits are paramount to integrate sustainability in small organizations. First, a comprehensive literature review was performed to assess the theoretical background. Second, a semi-structured interview guideline was derived from theory and subsequently, four interviews with experts from the field of sustainability integration were conducted and analyzed with Thematic Qualitative Text Analysis (Kuckartz 2014). Overall, the empirical data strongly supports and adds to the presented theoretical evidence. The synopsis of theoretical and empirical evidence led to valuable insights regarding (a) the understanding of sustainability in SME context, (b) the evolutionary and maturity perspective of organizations, (c) investments in learning capabilities, (d) the importance of strategic adaptability, (e) how responsible management could be implemented, (f) how expressive innovativeness could be unleashed, (g) on proactively including stakeholders as well as (h) discussing future opportunities and challenges, accompanied with (i) advice for SMEs and (j) remarks for owners/managers. Thereby, SMEs in the EU are in the best position to make use of initiatives towards sustainability. Paramount is to develop a proactive attitude throughout an organization and to invest significantly in learning capabilities and human talent. This must be focus-guided and based on shared values and objectives to arrive at transformative sustainability innovations. Therefore, strategy as an inclusive and adaptive process is found decisive for alignment and coordination, fostering commitment and motivation. Developing responsible leadership promotes dialogue and reflexivity on all levels and supports to anchor shared values in actions and to excel VUCA conditions. Innovativeness can be cultivated and is necessary to create authentic, expressive and sustainable values. Valuing diverse stakeholders as partners and embracing business diversity unleashes (1) invaluable potential for development and collaboration and (2) enhances resilience through fostering strong relationships. Especially in SMEs, owners/managers are in a decisive position to enable and empower colleagues.
In recent decades, the company’s reputation has become an important signal and a decision-making stimulus for one of the key stakeholder groups—investors. Reputation includes both cognitive and affective aspects that investors may be more or less guided by. The article examines the importance of selected aspects of reputation for individual stock market investors on the capital market in Poland. The research used the method of an internet survey addressed to 417 individual investors, and the survey results allowed the answering of five research questions. The research results showed that from the point of view of individual investors operating on the Polish capital market, the informational aspects of companies’ reputations are slightly more important than the financial and growth aspects, and the least important are the social aspects, although a considerable internal differentiation of the significance of individual sub-criteria was noted. This study is the first to examine the importance of various aspects of reputation among Polish individual investors and one of the few such studies on an international scale.
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Published research on corporate reputation has increased in the last 10 years in various sectors. The higher education sector is no stranger to this growth; however, theoretical developments and empirical research have been conducted across various disciplines of knowledge and theoretical approaches, which has made it difficult to theorize about it. In addition to this, the dimensionality of the construct, its dependence on the perception of public interest, and the difficulty of its measurement have made it a challenge for universities. This article develops a systematic review of reputation in higher education institutions. While there is evidence of contributions in the development of the theory and its conceptualization, these have occurred in other sectors such as banking, service industries, retailing, tourism and hospitality, and are not specifically focused on the higher education sector. As such, we seek to identify and characterize how reputation has been studied in this sector, highlighting conceptual and theoretical approaches that have supported the studies, which will help to overcome the fragmentation of the same from an integral definition applied to the education service.
Reputation is an important strategic resource. The aim of this work is to develop a structural model to measure reputation specific to horticulture. Based on a literature analysis, the terms image, identity and reputation are first defined before compiling a basis of knowledge relating to reputation measurement approaches from different fields (e.g., companies, industries). The measurement of “reputation” requires indicators whose epistemic relations (formative vs. reflective) need to be analyzed in order to avoid misspecification. Indicators were established from different research approaches, combined in a “multiple indicators and multiple causes” (MIMIC) model and supplemented through the influence of moderating variables.
This unique book written by four world leaders in reputation research, presents the latest cutting-edge thinking on organizational improvement. It covers media management, crisis management, the use of logos and other aspects of corporate identity, and argues the case for reputation management as a way of overseeing long-term organizational strategy. It presents a new approach to managing reputation, one that relies on surveying customers and employees on their view of the corporate character and in harmonizing the values of both. This approach has been trialled in a number of organizations and here the authors demonstrate how improving reputation, merely by learning more about what a company is already doing, is worth some five per cent sales growth. The book is a vital, up to date resource for specialists in corporate communication, public relations, marketing, HRM, and business strategy as well as for all senior management. Highly illustrated with over eighty diagrams and tables, it includes up to the minute illustrative case studies and interviews with leading authorities in the field. © 2003 Gary Davies, Rosa Chun, Rui Vinhas da Silva and Stuart Roper. All rights reserved.
Current models of competitive advantage emphasize economic factors as explanations for a firm’s success but ignore sociocognitive factors. This paper integrates economic and cognitive perspectives, and shows how firms and constituents jointly construct the environments in which firms compete. We argue that competitive advantage is a systemic outcome that develops as firms and constituents participate in six processes that entail, not only use and exchange of resources, but also communication about and interpretations of those exchanges. The interpretations that firms and constituents make of competitive interactions affect decisions about how to exchange and use resources. As interpretations and evaluations of a given firm fluctuate, so do the resources the firm has access to and its competitive advantage in the marketplace. The actions and interpretations of constituents and rivals produce the shifting terrain on which competition unfolds. We illustrate these dynamics with a discussion of IBM’s changing competitive advantage in the computer industry in the 1980s. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This study examines the impact of underwriter reputation on IPO underpricing and long-run performance in the China stock market over the period 2001 to 2006. This sample period is notable for the implementation of a verification and approval system that occurred during it, which provided underwriters more freedom to price IPOs. We develop two alternative proxies to measure underwriter reputation based on either the ratio of the total gross proceeds raised or the number of IPOs managed by each underwriter. We find that underwriter reputation does not affect the level of underpricing, but that the level of long-run underperformance is significantly mitigated when IPOs are managed by more prestigious underwriters. KeywordsInitial public offerings (IPOs)–Underwriter reputation–Underpricing–Long-run performance–China stock market
The authors examine whether reputation concerns affect how manufacturers structure their sales organization. Using reputation theory, they examine whether reputation-related perceptions and beliefs affect whether a manufacturer that currently uses an outside selling organization (i.e., a “rep”) intends to vertically integrate the selling function or switch to a new rep. In particular, they propose that a manufacturer's intentions to replace its current manufacturers’ rep with a company sales force or a different rep is a function of its perceptions of the reputation of itself and the rep and its beliefs about how high-reputation manufacturers in the industry typically organize their selling function. Survey data support the plausibility of these reputation-based arguments as factors that influence sales organization structure decisions. These results provide some important extensions to reputation theory. The authors discuss the study's implications for both managerial behavior and the literature on channels and organizational governance.