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6 Jul 2010

What is reputation?

George Onisiforou

Often the worlds of academia and business interact to ‘drive’ what we call best practice.

A recent article in the Corporate Reputation Review - ‘A systematic review of the corporate reputation literature: Definition, measurement and theory’ - examines how corporate reputation is defined in the academic literature, but at the same time provides implications on how companies can start thinking about their own reputation and how they can measure it.

The article, written by Kent Walker of the Asper School of Business at University of Manitoba in Canada, concludes that there is a lack of a comprehensive and well-accepted definition for corporate reputation among scholars. However, an analysis of the various existing definitions reveals that a company’s reputation can have different dimensions and is issue specific, and that different stakeholder groups may have different perceptions of corporate reputations.

Walker’s examination leads to a proposed definition for corporate reputation that includes five attributes: that reputation is perceptual, aggregate and issue specific, comparative, positive or negative, and temporal. His definition offers guidance on how to approach reputation measurement - notably that it is important to define the issues that stakeholder perceptions are measured against, and that reputation measurement should ideally include both internal and external stakeholders.

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