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A Stakeholders’ Perspective of Reputation Dimensions for Service Organisations: Evidence from a Developing Country Context

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Corporate reputation is widely acknowledged to contribute to business success by academics and business executives. Despite the importance of corporate reputation in all markets, we lack sufficient research into what reputation might mean in the context of companies in developing countries. This paper addresses this lingering gap in the literature by investigating the dimensions that make service organisations reputable from the perspective of four primary stakeholder groups of two large service organisations. The paper also sought to determine whether the same reputation dimensions apply to service organisations in general, or whether they differ according to the type of service organisation. Empirical data were sourced using the mixed-method approach, and analysis revealed 16 items across 6 dimensions that constitute the reputation of service organisations. The study also found that there is not much difference between the reputation dimensions of two organisations used in this study. However, it reveals major differences between the dimensions derived from the developing country context, and those derived from developed contexts. This illustrates that context-specific reputation measures can emerge which are important in understanding how reputation is created and can be managed. Consequently, it underscores the need for more scientific researches into reputation dimensions in different contexts (countries and organisations).
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Vol.:(0123456789)
Corporate Reputation Review
https://doi.org/10.1057/s41299-021-00128-2
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
A Stakeholders’ Perspective ofReputation Dimensions forService
Organisations: Evidence fromaDeveloping Country Context
OyindamolaAbiolaAjayi1· TsietsiMmutle1 · MphoChaka1
© The Author(s) 2021
Abstract
Corporate reputation is widely acknowledged to contribute to business success by academics and business executives. Despite
the importance of corporate reputation in all markets, we lack sufficient research into what reputation might mean in the
context of companies in developing countries. This paper addresses this lingering gap in the literature by investigating the
dimensions that make service organisations reputable from the perspective of four primary stakeholder groups of two large
service organisations. The paper also sought to determine whether the same reputation dimensions apply to service organi-
sations in general, or whether they differ according to the type of service organisation. Empirical data were sourced using
the mixed-method approach, and analysis revealed 16 items across 6 dimensions that constitute the reputation of service
organisations. The study also found that there is not much difference between the reputation dimensions of two organisa-
tions used in this study. However, it reveals major differences between the dimensions derived from the developing country
context, and those derived from developed contexts. This illustrates that context-specific reputation measures can emerge
which are important in understanding how reputation is created and can be managed. Consequently, it underscores the need
for more scientific researches into reputation dimensions in different contexts (countries and organisations).
Keywords Reputation dimensions· Service organisations· Corporate reputation· Stakeholders· Developing country·
Reputation measurement instruments
Introduction
The increased competition in today’s business environment
has made it imperative to identify the drivers of sustain-
able competitive advantage. These drivers are not limited to
tangible assets alone, but also include the intangibles such
as corporate reputation. More than ever before, organisa-
tions realise that stakeholders are more attracted to organi-
sations with a strong reputation; thus, corporate reputation
has become a must-have for any organisation that desires to
be profitable, competitive and sustainable.This is evident in
how organisations are increasingly investing in their prod-
uct/service quality, employee engagement, stakeholder rela-
tions and corporate communications activities, as part of the
efforts to boost their reputation.
Several empirical studies have explored the significance
of corporate reputation in different kinds of organisations
(products and services), as well as the factors that favourably
contribute to the reputation of these organisations. There is
an evidence that a positive reputation offers a competitive
advantage, increases patronage, encourages shareholders to
invest, attracts good staff, retains customers and protects the
organisation from excessive scrutiny by making the media
secondary definers (Bergh etal. 2010; Adeosun and Ganiyu
2013; Gardberg and Fombrun 2002; Carreras etal. 2013).
On the other hand, unfavourable reputation can decrease
stakeholders’ confidence in the organisation, which can
consequently threaten the organisation’s legitimacy and may
lead to reduced profit (Adeosun and Ganiyu 2013).
Although these studies indicate that a favourable reputa-
tion is significant in every organisation, they also suggest
that the impact of a favourable reputation is more significant
* Tsietsi Mmutle
tsietsi.mmutle@nwu.ac.za
Oyindamola Abiola Ajayi
abiolajayi@rocketmail.com
Mpho Chaka
mpho.chaka@nwu.ac.za
1 School ofCommunication Studies (Affiliated To: Social
Transformation Entity), Faculty ofHumanities, North-West
University, Mahikeng, SouthAfrica
O.A.Ajayi et al.
in certain types of organisations than others due to various
factors. For instance, some authors (Balan and Schiopoiu
2017; Trotta and Cavallaro 2012; Wang etal. 2003) believe
that the impact of corporate reputation is more significant
for service organisations due to the intangible nature of ser-
vices—a situation whereby stakeholders cannot feel, touch
or see services prior to patronage. Unlike product-based
organisations where stakeholders can physically inspect a
product before making a purchase, services are not physi-
cal. Hence, stakeholders have to rely on the organisation’s
reputation, which could be in terms of its media rankings/
ratings, testimonials or positive word-of-mouth, to inform
their patronage decision.
However, although the attention given to corporate repu-
tation has significantly increased over the years, research
into the dimensions of reputation has not evolved at the same
rate (Carroll 2016; Feldman etal. 2014; Kitchen and Lau-
rence 2003). Adding to this problem, the few studies on the
reputation dimensions of service organisations are usually
supported with evidence from developed countries, and rep-
utation scholars (Soleimani etal. 2014; Trotta and Cavallaro
2012; Kanto etal. 2015; Wang etal. 2003) have emphasised
how the dimensions of corporate reputation differ based on
the context within which they are being investigated. Hence,
generalising the findings from developed countries to devel-
oping countries may be inaccurate and problematic.
Based on this, this article investigates what constitute the
reputation dimensions of service organisations in a develop-
ing country context, Nigeria. It investigates these dimen-
sions from the perspective of four primary and relevant
stakeholder groups (customers, employees, regulators and
business communication executives) of two large service
organisations—a bank and a mobile service provider. The
outcome of this study is expected to reveal if/what difference
exists in the reputation dimensions contained in existing
instruments such as the AMAC, RQ and those derived from
this study context. The outcome of the study will be useful
to illustrate how context-specific reputation measures can
be. It identifies dimensions and measurement items not used
in other measures, a finding which may be useful to others.
The concept ofcorporate reputation
There are several perspectives towards corporate reputa-
tion, both in terms of its definition and its dimensions, so
much so that having a universal definition or dimensions
is almost impossible. This is mainly attributed to the fact
that corporate reputation draw attention from several aca-
demic disciplines. It is also attributed to the fact that dif-
ferent researchers investigate its dimensions in different
types of organisations. We see a difference in the reputation
dimensions and items derived from studies that explored
a product-based organisation when compared with those
derived from a service-based organisation or even studies
that used both product and service companies (see Wepener
and Boshoff 2015; Caruana and Chircop 2000; Ponzi etal.
2011; Davies etal. 2018; Trotta and Cavallaro 2012). This
may be tied to the fact that the different kind of organisations
have different offerings and missions, as well as different key
stakeholder groups.
It is, however, observed that despite the myriad of defini-
tions, most scholars seem to agree that corporate reputation
results from stakeholders’ collective perception or assess-
ment of an organisation. We adopt Olmedo-Cifuentes and
Martínez-León’s (2011) definition of corporate reputation
because it encapsulates the rationale of this study to iden-
tify the dimensions that create value for an organisation (in
this case, services) and favourably influence stakeholders’
perception. Olmedo-Cifuentes and Martínez-León (2011, p.
79), thus, define corporate reputation as follows:
“the estimate of the overall perception different stake-
holders have about a company, evaluated through a
set of dimensions and attributes that create value that
are linked to the organisation and distinguish it from
the rest”.
Given that a favourable corporate reputation can only be
achieved by stakeholders’ positive perception and evalua-
tion of an organisation, it becomes imperative to identify the
dimensions that influence these perceptions for organisations
to align their activities accordingly. The challenge, however,
is that the dimensions that make organisations reputable vary
based on several factors like the country within which the
investigation is conducted, cultural differences, the type of
organisation investigated, stakeholder groups used, etc. For
instance, Aperia etal. (2004) used the Reputation Quotient
(RQ) to investigate how citizens in each of the three Scan-
dinavian countries (Sweden, Norway and Denmark) will
assess the dimensions contained in the instrument. Despite
the cultural similarities in the Scandinavian countries, the
level of importance of each dimension contained in the RQ
varied across the countries.
Besides, Wepener and Boshoff (2015) and Trotta and
Cavallaro (2012) in their respective country context explored
the dimensions that make service organisations reputable
and they both had different outcomes. Using a bank and an
airline operating within the South African business context,
Wepener and Boshoff (2015) found ‘Emotional appeal, Cor-
porate performance, Social engagement, Good employer and
Service points’ as the reputation dimensions. While Trotta
and Cavallaro (2012) investigated the reputation dimen-
sions of a bank in the Italian business context and found
the dimensions to be ‘the organisation’s role (in terms of its
vision, mission, and leadership); its responsibility in soci-
ety; relationships with internal and external stakeholders;
A Stakeholders’ Perspective ofReputation Dimensions forService Organisations: Evidence…
its result (in terms of its financial performance and quality of
service); and regulatory compliance’. The difference in the
outcomes of the aforementioned studies, even though both
investigations focused on service organisations, support our
standpoint that reputation dimensions differ according to the
context within which they are being investigated.
The foregoing show that indeed, various factors influence
the dimensions of corporate reputation, and applying the
reputation dimensions derived from one context to another
context may not produce an accurate measure of corporate
reputation. Therefore, as is the case in this study, reputation
dimensions must be investigated in the context (industry and
country) within which the organisation is situated.
Measuring corporate reputation
Given the significance of corporate reputation especially in
the service industry, identifying the dimensions that con-
tribute to, or influence a favourable reputation is of vital
importance. The establishment of the precise reputation
dimensions enables the accurate measurement of corporate
reputation, and Dowling and Gardberg (2012) emphasise the
importance of measuring corporate reputation in a scientific
way in order for organisations to know their reputation score.
Over time, some instruments for measuring corporate
reputation have been developed. The most popular ones
include the Fortune’s Most Admired Company (FMAC) List,
the Reputation Quotient (RQ), RepTrak, Corporate Person-
ality Scale, and the Stakeholder Performance Indicator and
Relationship Improvement Tool (SPIRIT). While some of
these instruments are often used (e.g. the RQ and RepTrak),
they have been criticised for (1) measuring reputation from a
single stakeholder perspective, e.g. the RQ (Wartick 2002).
(2) Focusing only on an organisation’s financial qualities,
e.g. the FMAC (Feldman etal. 2014) and (3) their inability
to provide ways to assess how an organisation can develop
its reputation (Money and Hillenbrand, 2006). Also, some
studies found that the dimensions in these existing instru-
ments do not have cross-cultural validity which would allow
for international comparability (Feldman etal. 2014, p. 59),
and they are also not industry specific (Dowling and Gard-
berg 2012; Trotta and Cavallaro 2012; Kanto etal. 2015;
Chun 2005). That is, they were developed for all types of
organisations (both product and services based such as
manufacturing, aviation, telecommunication, and non-profit
organisations).
Furthermore, although the RepTrak pulse (Ponzi etal.
2011) and three dimensions of Davies etal. (2018) affect-
based measure have been argued to be universally relevant,
dimensions such as ‘looks like a good investment’ or ‘seem
profitable’ are clearly not relevant to not-for-profit organisa-
tions. This dramatic difference is also evident in the criteria
used in measuring the reputation of tertiary institutions com-
pared with AMAC, RepTrak or the RQ.
The gaps in these instruments can lead to inaccurate meas-
urements of corporate reputation because various stakeholders
have different expectations and would assess an organisation
differently. This is evident in the 2013 South Africa RepTrak
survey that indicated ‘Products/Services and Innovation’ as the
most important dimensions of reputation, whereas the Global
survey indicated ‘Citizenship, Workplace and Governance’ as
the most important dimensions (Global RepTrak 2013; South
Africa RepTrak Pulse 2013). The difference or inaccuracy that
comes with using the generic measurement instruments is also
seen in the studies of Kanto etal. (2015) and Trotta and Caval-
laro (2012). Kanto etal. (2015, p. 414) examined the suitability
of the Reputation Quotient when applied to Malaysian banking
stakeholders and found that of the six dimensions of reputation
in the instrument, ‘workplace environment’ was not a dimen-
sion considered by stakeholders of Malaysian banks, whereas
Trotta and Cavallaro (2012, p. 28) found the ‘workplace envi-
ronment’ to be a key reputation dimension to stakeholders of
Italian banks.
The difference in the reputation dimensions considered by
stakeholders is not unique to the banking industry, as it is also
evident in the telecommunication industry. Shamma and Has-
san (2009) explored the reputation dimensions in the United
States telecommunication industry and found corporate social
responsibility (CSR) to be an insignificant dimension to stake-
holders, while Yasin and Bozbay (2011) and Awang and Jusoff
(2009) found CSR to be a significant dimension for the tel-
ecommunication industry in Turkey and Malaysia respectively.
More so, if reputation dimensions varied among employ-
ees and customers of the same organisation (see Chun and
Davies 2006) and even among types of employees (see
Olmedo-Cifuantes etal. 2014), how much more the reputa-
tion dimensions that will be derived from different countries.
The different outcomes of the aforementioned studies
validate scholars’ (Davies 2011; Balmer and Greyser 2006)
assertion that a scale developed in one context (e.g. in one
type of industry, with one stakeholder group, or one country)
should not be considered valid in different contexts with-
out a thorough investigation. Corporate reputation must be
measured based on the dimensions identified in the industry
and country the companies operate. “Doing so may limit
generalisability, but it will improve validity” (Feldman etal.
2014, p. 59).
Research questions
Based on the discussions in the preceding sections, this
study investigates what constitute the dimensions of reputa-
tion for service organisations in a developing country con-
text, Nigeria, and poses the following research question:
O.A.Ajayi et al.
What are the dimensions considered by stakeholders of
the selected service organisations when evaluating cor-
porate reputation?
To further determine whether the same reputation dimen-
sions are applicable to service organisations in general, or
whether they also differ according to the type of service
organisation, the following research questions were posed:
What are the reputation dimensions considered by stake-
holders of a bank?
What are the reputation dimensions considered by stake-
holders of a service provider?
Methodology
The mixed-method approach (MMA) was used for data col-
lection and the design followed the exploratory sequential
mixed method. That is, the qualitative data collection and
analysis were first conducted and its outcome informed the
quantitative data collection and analysis. The qualitative
method, using face-to-face semi-structured interviews, pro-
vided a thorough understanding of the dimensions stake-
holders consider when evaluating the service organisations
and led to the identification of the reputation dimensions.
Before then, an extensive review of literature on existing
corporate reputation measurement instruments, as well as
a review of studies that explored reputation dimensions in
service organisations was conducted.
The dimensions identified from literature and interviews
then led to the quantitative enquiry that used questionnaire as
the instrument for data collection. The quantitative method
was used to streamline the dimensions and determine the
most relevant to stakeholders. It also eliminated the issue
of bias by providing results that did not only emanate from
the researcher’s interpretation of interviewees’ responses,
but results that are backed by a rigorous, objective scientific
process and analysis.
Two large service organisations in Nigeria, a commercial
bank and a mobile service provider were used as the sample
organisations because they are highly patronised and used
by stakeholders almost on a daily basis. Hence, stakeholders
are well informed of these organisations. Data were sourced
from four primary stakeholder groups of both organisations
namely customers, employees, regulators, and business com-
munication executives. The selected stakeholder groups
for the study are crucial because they are primary stake-
holder groups of both organisations, and their perceptions
and evaluations have the most influence on the corporate
reputation. Also, using multiple stakeholder groups in this
investigation is hinged on the study’s standpoint that reputa-
tion results from the aggregate perception and evaluation of
all stakeholders; hence, investigating corporate reputation
dimensions from the perspective of only one stakeholder
group is inadequate.
Stakeholders for the face-to-face semi-structured inter-
views were selected using the purposive, non-probability
sampling technique. This technique was appropriate for
the study as the importance of choosing respondents who
will provide intelligent and detailed responses to questions
is well emphasised by Creswell (2014). Interviewees were,
thus, selected based on certain features like their knowledge
of corporate reputation, as well as their knowledge of, and
affiliation with the selected organisations in order to provide
in-depth and relevant answers to questions.
Selection of interviewees for this study was done in three
stages. In the first stage, the authors consulted with the con-
tact person in each organisation (one human resource staff,
and one settlement and reconciliation staff) to compile a list
of willing interviewees after briefing them on the research
topic and purpose of the interview. After that, the authors
evaluated the suitability of the potential interviewees for the
study and made a shortlist based on their work experience,
expertise, and knowledge of corporate reputation in order to
have rich data. In the third stage, formal interview request
emails were sent to shortlisted interviewees detailing the
nature of the interview, its purpose, timing, and their role in
the research process. A list of confirmed interviewees was
then derived.
A total of fifteen (15) interviews were conducted. The
interviewees consisted of two customers of each organisation
(total = 4); two employees of each organisation (total = 4),
2 communication staff of each organisation (total = 4); two
regulators of a bank and one regulator of a mobile service
provider (total = 3).
On the other hand, respondents for the quantitative study
were selected using the stratified random sampling since the
study specifically sought to investigate the dimensions of
reputation from the perspective of only the selected four
stakeholder groups, and the sample size was specified. Using
other sampling techniques might make those who are not the
target stakeholders fill the questionnaire; hence, this tech-
nique was, therefore, appropriate as it ensured the question-
naire was filled by those it was intended for, while giving
each stratum an equal chance of being selected, and by so
doing, eliminated bias.
For instance, in the case of ‘employees’, regulators and
communication staff, the questionnaire was taken to their
respective organisations and distributed to those who were
present and willing to take the survey. Administering the
questionnaires to customer was, however, more tasking as
the authors had to first enquire whether or not they patron-
ised the selected organisations. To simplify this process, the
questionnaires were taken to a university that had within her
premise, a branch of the bank, and a customer service centre
A Stakeholders’ Perspective ofReputation Dimensions forService Organisations: Evidence…
of the mobile service provider. This means that the bank and
the MSP have a large subscriber base in this location. The
questionnaires were then distributed to masters’ students at
the University who are customers of the bank and mobile
service provider. This method was used in the two phases
of the quantitative process.
Qualitative result
As stated earlier, an in-depth review of literature that
explored what constitutes reputation in service organisations
was first conducted prior to conducting the interviews. 12
reputation dimensions and 26 items explaining the dimen-
sions were derived from literature namely: ‘Quality of ser-
vice, Employee welfare, Corporate social responsibility,
Compliance with regulatory standards, Ethical culture, man-
agement and leadership, Trustworthiness, Media relations,
Corporate communication, Governance, Corporate brand,
Emotional appeal, and Workplace environment’.
From the 15 semi-structured interviews conducted
with stakeholders, 13 reputation dimensions and 38 items
emerged. The dimensions and their assigned codes are
Service quality (SEQ), Issue management (ISM), Corpo-
rate Communication (COC), Branding (BRA), Customer
Relations (CRL), Financial Performance (FIP), Employee
Engagement and Welfare (EEW), Innovation (INN), Social
Responsibility (SOR), Empathy (EMP), Risk Management
(RIM), Regulatory Compliance (REC) and Trustworthiness
(TRT).
Some of these 13 dimensions derived from the interviews
bore similarities with those identified from literature. How-
ever, 4 new dimensions that are not contained in the lit-
erature emerged from the interviews as important potential
contribution. They are Risk management, Empathy, Issue
management, and Customer relations. Also, three dimen-
sions identified from literature were not mentioned in any
way or form by any stakeholder interviewed in this study.
The dimensions are Governance and Leadership (GOL),
Emotional Appeal (EMA), and Media Relations (MER).
These 3 dimensions were, however, still included in the
study, and in total, 16 dimensions and 64 items emerged
following the lead from the literature and interviews.
Quantitative result—phase 1
A close-ended 5-point Likert scale questionnaire was
developed based on the outcome of the qualitative study.
The response scale included strongly agree, agree, neutral,
strongly disagree and disagree. The questionnaire was pre-
tested among 100 respondents of both organisations, which
is 50 copies were administered to the bank’s respondents
and 50 copies to respondents of the MSP. The questionnaire
distribution breakdown for both organisations was 15 copies
to customers (total, 30), 15 to employees (total, 30), 10 cop-
ies to regulators (total, 20) and 10 copies to communication
staff (total, 20). Based on the context within which the study
was conducted, self-administration of the questionnaire was
most appropriate as it ensured a high response rate and quick
return. It was also appropriate since the sample size was
manageable.
Eighty-eight copies of questionnaires were recovered, and
this signified an 88% return rate which is considered very
high and the data derived are also considered useful. A reli-
ability test was conducted on the recovered questionnaires
using the Cronbach alpha. The Cronbach coefficient alpha
(α) is generally regarded as the basic statistical technique
for evaluating a measure’s reliability based on its internal
consistency (Taber 2018). Internal consistency is the average
correlation of a set of items measuring a construct. That is,
it specifies the degree to which the items adequately cap-
ture or explain the construct. The Cronbach alpha can be
between 0.0 and 1.0, but the rule of thumb is that a construct
(dimension) must have a coefficient alpha of 0.70 or higher
to be considered reliable (Taber 2018; Cooper and Schin-
dler 2007). Most of the dimensions in the questionnaire had
a coefficient alpha greater than the acceptable mark, 0.70,
which indicates that the items adequately explain the dimen-
sion. Those that had a low coefficient were either restruc-
tured or eliminated.
The modified version of the questionnaire was then sent to
industry practitioners working in top organisations and sen-
ior academics in the corporate communication and corporate
reputation field. This was done to ensure that the question-
naire was suitable for the intended investigation and also to
get expert recommendation on the dimensions or items to
include, regroup, merge or delete. One of the recommenda-
tions was that the ‘media relations’ dimension be changed
to ‘media reputation’ since its underlying items describe the
latter construct better. The feedback from these experts aided
in further modifying the questionnaire, and this process is
used to achieve face validity in scientific research (Bolar-
inwa 2015; Mohajan 2017). Overall, the refined question-
naire contained 48 items across 16 dimensions.
Quantitative result—phase 2
The refined questionnaire was re-administered to a larger
population of 220 respondents (customers, employees, reg-
ulators and communication staff) and was equally shared
among respondents of both organisations. That is, 110 cop-
ies for the bank and 110 for the mobile service provider.
Due to the stakeholders’ dynamics, the questionnaire was
not equally shared among the four stakeholder groups since
some stakeholder groups were naturally greater in number,
and more accessible than others. 50 copies of questionnaire
O.A.Ajayi et al.
were administered to customers of the bank, 50 copies to
employees and 5 copies each to regulators and corporate
communicators of the bank. The same distribution method
was used for stakeholders of the mobile service provider.
A total of 106 questionnaires were recovered from
respondents of the bank and 102 from respondents of the
mobile service provider. Cumulatively, all the questionnaires
were recovered from regulators and corporate communica-
tors, 92 copies were recovered from customers and 96 from
employees. This brought the total number of recovered ques-
tionnaires to 208, signifying a 94.5% response rate.
To streamline and identify the dimensions and items to
those that are most relevant, Exploratory Factor Analysis
(EFA) using the Principal Axis Factoring (PAF) was con-
ducted. One of the rules for conducting exploratory factor
analysis is that there must be a minimum sample of 150
(Kyriazos 2018; Izquierdo etal. 2014), and the recovered
data from the sample population surpassed this condition.
Prior to conducting the EFA, the KMO and Bartlett’s
Test of Sphericity was used to determine the suitability of
factor analysis based on the sample responses. This is the
required first step when conducting EFA (Izquierdo etal.
2014). The value ‘Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin Measure of Sam-
pling Adequacy’ is expected to be greater than 0.5, anything
higher than 0.5 is better. The test result returned a KMO
of 0.585 which established that conducting the exploratory
factor analysis was appropriate (see Table1). Both the Bar-
tlett’s Test and the KMO results also indicated that there was
appropriate correlation (covariance) in the data to proceed
with the factor analysis. The last value in the table is the
significance which is expected to be a value lower than 0.001
as we have it in Table1.
The EFA using the Principal Axis Factoring technique
and an orthogonal rotation (varimax) was then performed on
the data. Factor analysis generates factor loadings (commu-
nalities) that signify the relationships between an item and
each factor (dimension). Factor loadings 0.50 are essential
in factor analysis to ensure that the variance from the item
loads primarily onto the factor being considered (Hair etal.
2010).
Table2 shows the factor loadings of each of the 48 items
across the 16 dimensions. Only factor loadings 0.5 were
extracted and considered relevant to the corporate reputation
of service organisations. Based on this, ‘Empathy’ and ‘Risk
management’ dimensions were eliminated since their items
loading was 0.5. Thirteen other items were also eliminated
since their factor loadings were below the minimum accept-
able value. This brought the total number of significant cor-
porate reputation items to 31 across 14 dimensions.
The Eigenvalue criteria were then used to determine the
most relevant reputation dimensions out of the 14 dimen-
sions that emerged after the EFA. Dimensions with initial
Eigenvalues 1.0 are considered significant and retained,
while those with Eigenvalues less than 1.0 are eliminated
(Hair etal. 2010). 6 out of the 14 dimensions emerged as the
final reputation dimensions for service organisations. The
dimensions in their respective order are issue management,
service quality, corporate communication, social responsi-
bility, branding and trustworthiness.
The first dimension, issue management, returned an initial
Eigenvalue of 2.837, and this explained 21.823% of the vari-
ance in the data (see Table3). This is the most significant
reputation dimension for service organisations based on the
analysis of stakeholders’ responses. The second dimension,
service quality, had an initial Eigenvalue of 1.678, which
explains 12.905% of the variance in the data. Dimensions
3, 4, 5 and 6 had initial Eigenvalues of 1.330, 1.251, 1.119
and 1.033, and they explained 10.231%, 9.624%, 8.607%
and 7.945% of the variance, respectively. The six dimen-
sions and their corresponding items explain 71.136% of the
variance in the data.
Extraction Sums of Squared Loadingsin Table3 are cal-
culated in the same way as the ‘Initial Eigenvalues’, except
that the extracted sums values are based on the common
variance. Hence, the extracted sum will always be lower
than the initial values since they are based on the common
variance, which is always lower than the total variance. The
6 reputation dimensions and their corresponding items are
presented in Table4.
Reputation dimensions forbanks andMSPS
To determine whether the same reputation dimensions
can be applied to both banks and mobile service provid-
ers, a Multiple Regression Analysis (MRA) was performed
using the result of the EFA. Multiple regression analysis is
the most suitable technique for analysing the relationship
between a single dependent variable (e.g. corporate repu-
tation) and several independent variables (e.g. the dimen-
sions of corporate reputation). The result of the MRA (see
Tables5 and 6) shows the significance and effect of each
dimension to the corporate reputation of each service organi-
sation used in this study. The rule of thumb is when the
‘significance’ (p value) is < 0.05, there is significant relation-
ship between the dimension and corporate reputation. The
‘Beta’ in the table informs us of the contribution/impact of
Table 1 KMO and Bartlett's test of sphericity
Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin measure of sampling adequacy .585
Bartlett's test of sphericity
Approx. Chi-square 2271.285
Df 1128
Sig .000
A Stakeholders’ Perspective ofReputation Dimensions forService Organisations: Evidence…
Table 2 Factor loading of items Dimensions Codes Loading (communali-
ties)
Variance
Service quality (SEQ) SEQ 1 .616 9.248
SEQ 2 .561
SEQ 3 .578
SEQ 4 .311
Issue management (ISM) ISM 1 .512 6.511
ISM 2 .665
Corporate communication (COC) COC 1 .545 4.922
COC 2 .629
COC 3 .185
COC 4 .553
Media reputation (MER) MER 1 .567 4.264
MER 2 .277
Emotional appeal (EMA) EMA 1 .698 4.113
EMA 2 .387
EMA 3 .670
EMA 4 .115
EMA 5 .352
EMA 6 .282
Branding (BRA) BRA 1 .609 3.706
BRA 2 .615
BRA 3 .632
BRA 4 .237
Customer relations (CRL) CRL 1 .617 3.414
CRL 2 .688
CRL 3 .678
Employee engagement and welfare (EEW) EEW 1 .731 3.287
EEW 2 .361
EEW 3 .335
EEW 4 .520
EEW 5 .579
EEW 6 .328
Financial performance (FIP) FIP 1 .518 3.135
FIP 2 .330
Innovation (INN) INN 1 .599 2.974
INN 2 .700
Social responsibility (SOR) SOR 1 .645 2.854
SOR 2 .594
SOR 3 .643
SOR 4 .250
Governance and leadership (GOL) GOL 1 .688 2.710
GOL 2 .672
Empathy (EMP) EMP 1 .221 2.602
Risk management (RIM) RIM 1 .354 2.551
RIM 2 .397
Regulatory compliance (REC) REC 1 .679 2.402
Trustworthiness (TRT) TRT 1 .624 2.337
TRT 2 .341
TRT 3 .627
O.A.Ajayi et al.
each of the independent variable to the dependent variable
(Corporate Reputation).
The result as shown in Table5 indicates that stakeholders
of the bank consider all but one (Governance and leader-
ship) of the dimensions in their evaluation of the corporate
reputation. Although 13 out of 14 reputation dimensions
are significant to corporate reputation, regulatory compli-
ance (beta = 2.703, p value = < 0.05) has the most impact
on the reputation of a bank. This is followed by trustwor-
thiness (beta = 1.640, p value = < 0.05), service quality
(beta = 1.342, p value = < 0.05), corporate communica-
tion (beta = 1.316, p value = < 0.05) and thereafter, social
responsibility (beta = 1.296, p value = < 0.05).
This indicates that a drop in regulatory compliance, trust-
worthiness, service quality, corporate communication and
social responsibility efforts of a bank as perceived by stake-
holders can lead to a corresponding reduction of the bank’s
reputation by 2.703, 1.640, 1.342, 1.316 and 1.296 units,
respectively. In other words, the corporate reputation of a
bank is significantly reduced following stakeholders’ nega-
tive perception or evaluation of its regulatory compliance,
trustworthiness, service quality, corporate communication
and social responsibility efforts.
On the other hand, all the reputation dimensions except
‘media reputation’ (MER) are considered relevant by stake-
holders of the MSP since its p value is greater than 0.05
(see Table6). The Beta in the table indicates that service
quality (beta = 0.283, p value = < 0.05) has the most impact
on the reputation of mobile service providers. This is fol-
lowed by employee engagement and welfare (beta = 0.281,
p value = < 0.05), emotional appeal (beta = 0.199, P
value = < 0.05), social responsibility (beta = 0.185, P
value = < 0.05) and customer relations (beta = 0.172, p
value = < 0.05).
This also indicate that a decrease in stakeholders’ per-
ception of a mobile service provider’s quality of service,
employee engagement and welfare, emotional appeal, social
responsibility and customer relations, can lead to a decrease
in the organisation’s reputation by 0.283, 0.281,0.199, 0.185,
and 0.172 units, respectively. Therefore, the corporate repu-
tation of a mobile service provider is greatly reduced fol-
lowing stakeholders’ negative perception or evaluation of
Table 3 Eigenvalues and variance of the six reputation dimensions
Dimensions Initial Eigenvalues Extraction sums of squared loadings Rotation sums of
squared loadings
Total % of Variance Cumulative % Total % of Variance Cumulative % Total
Issue management 2.837 21.823 21.823 2.439 18.760 18.760 2.018
Service quality 1.678 12.905 34.728 1.124 8.648 27.408 1.670
Corporate communication 1.330 10.231 44.959 .863 6.635 34.043 1.009
Social responsibility 1.251 9.624 54.584 .705 5.426 39.469 .969
Branding 1.119 8.607 63.190 .639 4.912 44.381 .717
Trustworthiness 1.033 7.945 71.136 .515 3.965 48.346 .668
Table 4 The six reputation dimensions for service organisations
Dimensions Items
Issue management The organisation quickly responds to, and resolves complaints
The organisation responds well in a crisis (that is, dealing with negative publicity)
Service quality The service is reliable
The organisation offers a timely and fast service offering
The organisation has easily accessible service points e.g. ATMs or customer service points
Corporate communication The organisation provides useful information to stakeholders
The organisation consistently engages with stakeholders
The organisation has an online presence
Branding The organisation can be easily differentiated from its counterparts
The organisation has a good culture
The organisation projects itself in a clear and consistent manner
Social responsibility The organisation gives back to people and its local community
The organisation conducts its business in an ethical and fair manner
The organisation adheres to the principle of good governance
Trustworthiness The organisation is transparent in its activities
The organisation has no secret charges
A Stakeholders’ Perspective ofReputation Dimensions forService Organisations: Evidence…
its service quality, employee engagement and welfare, emo-
tional appeal, social responsibility and customer relations.
The foregoing shows that there is minimal difference
in the reputation dimensions considered by stakeholders
of a bank and stakeholders of a mobile service provider,
where the difference lies is in the order of importance and
impact level of the reputation dimensions to each organisa-
tion. Thus, based on the findings, it can be concluded that
the reputation dimensions for a service sector like banks
can be applied to another service sector like mobile service
providers.
Discussion
The macro-economic setbacks of the last two decades
came with a broadening of responsibilities that forced
organisations to look beyond their product/service offer-
ing, to a more stakeholder approach in order to be reputa-
ble. Insights from existing studies emphasise how crucial
it is for organisations, especially service organisations to
identify its reputation drivers in order to manage it suc-
cessfully. To assist such organisations, this study identified
Table 5 Dimensions for the
bank
a Dependent Variable: Corporate Reputation
b Sig = p value
Model Unstandardised coef-
ficients
Standardised
coefficients
t Sig
B SE Beta
Service quality (SEQ) 1.112 .159 1.342 5.912 .000
Issue Management (ISM) .543 .132 .734 4.560 .000
Corporate communication (COC) 1.155 .135 1.316 5.913 .000
Media reputation (MER) .793 .159 1.105 5.051 .000
Branding (BRA) .982 .178 1.157 7.231 .000
Customer relations (CRL) .431 .100 .864 4.855 .000
Employee engagement and welfare (EEW) .371 .219 .995 9.943 .000
Financial performance (FIP) .120 .243 .736 3.316 .000
Innovation (INN) .873 .167 1.259 5.144 .000
Social responsibility (SOR) 1.027 .266 1.296 7.728 .000
Governance and leadership (GOL) .304 .286 .271 1.006 .322
Regulatory compliance (REC) 1.218 .177 2.703 5.409 .000
Trustworthiness (TRT) .176 .384 1.640 9.262 .000
Emotional appeal (EMA) .148 .217 .782 4.561 .000
Table 6 Dimensions for the
MSP Model Unstandardised Coef-
ficients
Standardised
Coefficients
t Sig
B Std. Error Beta
Service quality (SEQ) .231 .124 .283 4.343 .000
issue management (ISM) .043 .201 .084 5.125 .000
Corporate communication (COC) .122 .276 .149 7.326 .000
Media reputation (MER) .254 .612 .044 1.241 .244
Branding (BRA) .156 .114 .166 4.512 .000
Customer relations (CRL) .142 .223 .172 8.674 .000
Employee engagement and welfare (EEW) .158 .182 .281 5.677 .000
Regulatory Compliance (REC) .020 .391 .074 4.892 .000
Innovation (INN) .079 .167 .109 9.223 .000
Social responsibility (SOR) .098 .129 .185 5.926 .000
Governance and leadership (GOL) .174 .243 .125 3.980 .000
Financial performance (FIP) .032 .164 .102 3.454 .000
Trustworthiness (TRT) .091 .121 .126 7.362 .000
Emotional appeal (EMA) .139 .101 .199 4.368 .000
O.A.Ajayi et al.
16 items across 6 reputation dimensions for service organi-
sations following an extensive mixed-method investigation
among four primary stakeholder groups.
The outcome of this study illustrates the benefits of deriv-
ing context-specific reputation measures. For example,
‘issue management’ emerged as the most important reputa-
tion dimension for service organisations even though it is
not seen in any existing study on reputation dimensions. The
closest to it is seen in Trotta and Cavallaro’s (2012) study
in which ‘complaints management’ is identified as an item
under ‘regulatory compliance’. Since no explanation was
given about the item or dimension, it is uncertain whether
the ‘complaint management’ refers to how the bank deals
with complaints raised by the regulators, or how regulators
perceive the bank’s effort in managing complaints raised by
stakeholders. Exploring context-specific reputation meas-
ures, therefore, allowed for the identification of a crucial
dimension that otherwise, would have been absent if reputa-
tion was solely measured with any of the widely used meas-
urement instruments (e.g. RepTrak and RQ).
The strength of the issue management dimension may
be explained by the increasing poor management of most
organisations in this study context. Several reports (Ben-
son 2019; NairaMetrics 2018; Akintade 2019; Pulse 2019),
including social media, reflect how customers are dissatis-
fied with how most organisations manage issues and com-
plaints from stakeholders. This has even led to the collapse
of some of these organisations (Pulse 2019; TheGuardian
2018; Fakoyejo 2019). Hence, it is not surprising that the
issue management dimension alone accounts for 21.823%
of corporate reputation, while the other five dimensions
account for 49.313% of corporate reputation. The strength
of the issue management dimension may also be explained
by the unique nature of service organisations. Zeithaml etal.
(2009) describe it as a situation whereby service provision
(production) and service experience (delivery) are experi-
enced concurrently, and stakeholders may even be co-pro-
ducers or co-creators of services. Thus, issues may arise in
the co-production process, and the organisation’s ability and
approach to managing such issues become a critical factor
that determines its reputation.
Furthermore, this study’s outcome illustrates the bene-
fits of deriving more context-specific measures particularly
when using a cognitive approach. Most of the dimensions
derived from stakeholders in the study context were more
cognitive than emotional dimensions. Although a ‘seem-
ingly’ emotional measure, ‘trustworthiness’ emerged as
one of the six reputation dimensions in this study, the items
that were retained after conducting the factor analysis do
not illustrate the conventional emotional measure seen in
reputation studies. Although it is important to point out that
prior to the conducting the EFA, “It is important that I trust
the organisation” was one of the underlying items for the
‘trustworthiness’ dimension. However, the item did not meet
the acceptable factor loading and was, therefore, eliminated.
Hence, for banks and MSPs, stakeholders’ trust in the organ-
isation is determined by rational factors and not by merely
liking the organisation. Stakeholders must be convinced that
the organisation is transparent in its activities and has no
hidden charges before they can trust it.
Consequently, stakeholders’ assessments of the service
organisations in the study context are mainly based on the
‘facts’ – what they see, hear and know of the activities of
the organisations. This, however, does not undermine the
relevance of the ‘emotional appeal’ dimension as two out
of the six items underlying the dimension were considered
relevant by stakeholders and were retained after conducting
the EFA but did not make the top six reputation dimensions
for service organisations in this study. Service organisations
must, therefore, focus more on investing in the cognitive
aspects of their operations because they have the most influ-
ence on stakeholders’ favourable assessments.
Besides, the fact that stakeholders would consider dimen-
sions like regulatory compliance, and trustworthiness before
the dimension of service quality in a service sector like bank
indicates that service organisations cannot merely rely on
the service offering to be truly reputable. The finding sup-
ports studies and scholars (Mmutle and Shonhe 2017; Steyn
and De Beer 2012; Smith etal. 2013; Kitchen and Laurence
2003) that concluded that stakeholders’ expectation of
organisations has shifted from mere production of goods
and services to other areas of the organisation’s activities
such as its communication with stakeholders, the corpo-
rate citizenship, contribution to society etc. It is, therefore,
not surprising that ‘corporate communication’ and ‘social
responsibility’ emerged as the third and fourth most signifi-
cant reputation dimensions for service organisations.
The impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on
corporate reputation and overall corporate performance is
particularly emphasised in the literature, and it is undoubt-
edly one of the primary aspects of organisations that must
be prioritised and effectively implemented. A recent study
by cf. Ajayi and Mmutle (2021) pointed out that of the seven
reputation dimensions contained in the RepTrak instrument,
a 2018 reputation survey found that all three dimensions that
address the CSR aspect of business ranked in the top 4 most
important dimensions that drive the reputation of organisa-
tions operating within the South African business context.
That is, the dimensions ‘governance’, ‘performance’ and
‘citizenship’, respectively, emerged as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th
most important dimensions. Their study further highlighted
that ‘governance’ was the most important driver of reputa-
tion in several sectors, which included the banking sector,
while the ‘citizenship’ and ‘performance’ dimensions varied
between the second and fourth most important drivers in
the telecommunication and banking sectors. The outcome
A Stakeholders’ Perspective ofReputation Dimensions forService Organisations: Evidence…
of the survey clearly strengthens and supports the fact that
stakeholders are increasingly interested in various aspects
of an organisation and in the business environment today,
mere production of goods or services is no longer enough
to be truly reputable.
Conclusion
More than ever before, having context-specific reputation
measures is crucial in order to have more accurate measures
of corporate reputation since organisations do not achieve a
good reputation only on the basis of good service provision,
but on how stakeholders assess its efforts in meeting their
other expectations. Unfortunately, there has been a dearth
of studies on what constitutes these stakeholders’ expecta-
tions particularly in service organisations, and in developing
markets. This study is an effort to fill this void and contribute
to literature on corporate reputation measurements in emerg-
ing economies.
The study show how context-specific reputation measure
can be, therefore, using dimensions derived in one context
as a measure of corporate reputation in another context may
produce inaccurate results. As it is apparent from the out-
come of this study, none of the existing measurement instru-
ments are on their own, an accurate reflection of the dimen-
sions considered by stakeholders in the study context. Thus,
the study outcome makes a notable scholarly contribution
towards the reputation measures of banks and mobile ser-
vice providers particularly in a developing country context.
It identifies dimensions and measurement items not used
in other measures, a finding which may be useful to others.
As this study used only two service organisations, it is
highly unlikely that the findings can be generalised to all
kinds of service organisations. We conclude that banks and
mobile service providers organisations in a developing coun-
try context may, therefore, measure their reputation along
6 dimensions namely: issue management, service quality,
corporate communication, branding, social responsibility,
and trustworthiness. From a managerial perspective, these
organisations place these six dimensions at the top of cor-
porate agendas.
That is, managers of the sampled organisations must
ensure that stakeholders rate them high on each dimension.
Specifically, managers must ensure that online platforms are
available for stakeholders to reach the organisation when
necessary. The organisations’ online platforms particularly
make a significant impact on stakeholders’ assessment of the
corporate reputation because in today’s digital era, stake-
holders do not expect to be physically present at an organi-
sation before they can make a purchase, transact or resolve
issues. More so, because the two service organisations used
for this study are ‘daily need’ organisations, the presence
of information and communication technologies (ICT) save
stakeholders, especially customers, unnecessary trips to the
organisations and this ‘convenience’ contributes to their
favourable perception of the organisation.
It is expected that implementing the six reputation dimen-
sions will enable organisations to align their activities with
stakeholders’ expectations and ultimately boost the corpo-
rate reputation.
Recommendation forfurther research
Although this study makes significant contribution by iden-
tifying dimensions not evident in existing reputation meas-
ures, the dimensions were not subjected to a re-test. Subse-
quent studies looking to apply these reputation dimensions
to other contexts must, therefore, subject the dimensions to
a re-test to confirm their suitability.
Also, subsequent research should consider using a larger
sample size. While the sample size used in this study is con-
sidered significant and adequate for the investigation, future
research should use a larger sample in order to have a more
robust outcome.
Declarations
Conflict of interest On behalf of all participating authors, no conflict
of interest is to declare.
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attri-
bution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adapta-
tion, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long
as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source,
provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes
were made. The images or other third party material in this article are
included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated
otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in
the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not
permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will
need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a
copy of this licence, visit http:// creat iveco mmons. org/ licen ses/ by/4. 0/.
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Oyindamola Abiola Ajayi holds a PhD degree in Communication Sci-
ence with over 7 years of teaching and practical work experience in
corporate communication. Her research interests are on corporate
reputation, organisational communication and corporate social respon-
sibility communication. She is affiliated with Social Transformation
research entity of the North-West University’s Faculty of Humanities,
South Africa.
Tsietsi Mmutle holds a PhD degree in communication management and
is a Senior Lecturer at North-West University’s School of Communica-
tion Studies in Mahikeng. He is responsible for teaching undergraduate
modules in Corporate Communication, Marketing Communication and
Advanced Corporate Communication theory and practice at honours
level. Tsietsi is also a postgraduate program leader in the school of
communication studies. His research interests are on strategic com-
munication management, participatory communication and reputation
management as well as governance and sustainability. He is affiliated
with the NWU’s Social Transformation research Entity, South Africa.
Mpho Chaka is an Associate Professor of corporate communication
and Deputy Dean responsible for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty
of Humanities. He has published journal articles, book chapters and
a book in the field of public relations, corporate communication and
development communication. He is affiliated with the NWU’s Social
Transformation research entity, South Africa.
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