How do the reputations of star analysts and star CEOs individually and jointly affect firm outcomes? In a paper co-authored by Steven Boivie (Texas A&M), myself, and Richard Gentry (University of Mississippi) and presented at AOM, "Understanding the Dual and Joint Effects of Reputational Domain Overlap", we focus on a context where reputations are particularly relevant – changes in analyst recommendations and the effect of those changes on stock market reactions.
When building a reputation, and quite apart from one’s actual level of quality, is it better to strive for conformity with one’s peers, or alternatively to break away from the pack? At the Academy of Management annual meetings in Philadelphia, Eugene Paik (doctoral student at the University of Arizona) presented research exploring exactly that question. Eugene, Steve Boivie (Texas A&M), Peggy Lee (my colleague at Arizona State) and I are coauthoring that study. The empirical setting is attainment of “All-Star” status (awarded by Institutional Investor magazine) among stock analysts.
At the Academy of Management, CCR sponsored a Content Analysis PDW. This was a great event, planned by International Research Fellow Mike Pfarrer with Moriah Meyskens. The year’s PDW presentations were structured around the process of computer-aided text analysis.
A couple of weeks ago I was at a workshop at Oxford about NGOs and reputations. The workshop was sponsored by the Centre for Corporate Reputation and gathered scholars from a number of disciplinary backgrounds to explore how NGOs create and maintain reputations. In addition, we were interested in examining the reputational consequences that result from their interactions with corporations. At the end of the workshop I shared some of my takeaways.
This workshop's mix of theory and practice helped illuminate some important themes for future discussion and research.
In this session, Amanda Sharkey addressed concerns that emerged throughout the workshop, such as information disclosure, transparency and spillover effects from one organization to another Her research asks two key questions: do unrated firms change their behaviour in response to being surrounded by more rated firms; and, does the presence of rated firms lead to “spillover”? Deanna Rohlinger asked, 'how can NGOs leverage mass media to effect change and how does reputation effect the ways in which NGOs can navigate the mass media field?' And also, 'Why do some NGOs get more coverage, but also why does the way they are perceived limit their options.'
How do prior cross-sector interactions with a scandalised company affect an NGO’s performance and reputation? When does a stakeholder attack become a reputational crisis? These were the questions asked in the fourth session of the Reputation and NGOs workshop, by Mary-Hunter (Mae) McDonnell and Witold Henisz, respectively.
The two papers presented in this session raise very interesting questions about the emerging set of tools for reputation building – whether they are rankings or commitments to standards or reporting mechanisms. Such tools are likely to spring up in response to the demand to build reputations, but some are more robust than others. The Burger and Owens paper, which looks at NGO performance on funder-required reporting, can be looked at in the wider context of the transparency agenda which has gained momentum over the last 20 years. The paper by Linardi et al raises a similar issue, using the experimental tools of behavioural economics to look at motivations and commitment to sharia banking. Both demonstrate that when social norms change and a particular behavior pattern emerges as socially desirable, organisations or individuals may be tempted to fake their commitment to complying with the norm so as to build a certain favourable reputation.
In “Astroturifng the Field: Elites, Reputations, and the Effects of Covert Corporate Advocacy on Public Trust” Edward Walker investigated the ramifications and effects of companies “ventriloquising” through pressure groups that they invent. Examples abound: Walmart creating Working Families for Walmart; Philip Morris setting up National Smokers Alliance (and, as part of Altria, Citizens for Tobacco Rights) – many set out in Ed’s book Grassroots for Hire: Public Affairs Consultants in American Democracy. In this paper he explores how this relates to reputations of companies and NGOs. In his paper, “Organizational Responses To Movement-Induced Policymaking: Climate Change Hearings, Protests, And New Technology Development Among U.S. Oil & Gas Firms” (Hiatt, Grandy & Lee), Shon Hiatt, using empirical findings from the U.S. oil and gas industry, showed how activists create regulatory risk within policymaking processes and use protests to create reputational risk.
Session 1 took up the issue of how nonprofits build reputations and signal trust. The papers revealed that assessments of nonprofit/NGO trustworthiness are complicated because they are potentially influenced by a number of factors including organizational structure, values, public image, external stakeholders, and contextual factors. Given that there is so much beyond the control of nonprofits/NGOs, how can groups signal trust? Our conversation revealed some promising insights.
“Reputation is shorthand. Audiences are busy, so this is critical.” said Jack Lundie, Communications Director for Oxfam at the opening plenary of the Workshop on Reputation and NGOs. Leaders from Amnesty International, Oxfam, and INTRAC shared their thinking about the challenges NGOs face managing their own reputations in today’s turbulent, ever-shifting environment. Recurrent themes included their preoccupation with accountability, impact, and risk, the latter particularly in regard to collaborations.
From July 15-17, scholars will convene at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School to discuss different dimensions of reputation as it relates to non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The workshop will be hosted by the Centre for Corporate Reputation. Examining both advocacy organizations in particular and non-profit organizations in general, scholars from a variety of disciplines will join NGO representatives at the workshop to discuss and debate two core themes: How might reputation serve to regulate NGOs, and what are the reputational dynamics and consequences of NGO-firm interaction?