Recent research

The Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation researches how reputations of organisations are created, sustained, destroyed and rehabilitated.

The following is a list of published research for 2014-2019 - research conducted or written up while the authors in bold were funded by the Centre. Those marked with an * are or were Postdoctoral Research Fellows. 

Audience-specific reputations

'We study the effects of actors’ audience-specific reputations on their levels of success with different audiences in the same field. Extending recent work that has emphasised the presence of multiple audiences with different concerns, we demonstrate that considering audience specificity leads to an improved understanding of reputation effects.'

Banking

1) 'We present a model that explains why investment bankers struggle to manage conflicts of interest. Banks can build a type reputation for technical competence by performing complex deals that may not serve their clients' interest; on the other hand, banks can sustain a behavioural reputation by refraining from doing so.'

2) 'We develop a model in which individual and institutional reputation concerns conflict with one another to study why investment bank reputation concerns may have diminished in recent years.'

3) 'We discuss the commitment mechanisms that underpin social orderings. We categorise commitments in relationships along a hierarchy that runs from the most extralegal to the most legally intensive devices.'

Corruption

1) 'We investigate why top-down directives aimed at eradicating corruption are ineffective at altering on-the-ground practices for organisations that have adopted industry-wide “gold standards” to prevent bribery and corruption.'

2) 'Transparency in the extractives sector is widely seen as an important tool for improving accountability and deterring corruption. Yet for those very reasons, it is a puzzle that so many governments in corruption‐prone countries have voluntarily signed up to greater scrutiny in this area by joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).'

3) 'The proliferation of anti-bribery laws in recent years, particularly with the passage of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, sends a firm signal to companies that norms concerning corruption in international business have changed. With the increase in legal risk has come an increase in reputational risk. However, these laws and the cultures of enforcement around them, send conflicting messages about bribery being avoidable or indeed unethical.'

Country reputation

'By exploiting variation in nationalities of foreign victims in local terror attacks, we identify distortionary effects of terrorism on country reputations and corporate sales to foreign countries. The effects of terrorism are economically and statistically significant, persistent, and more pronounced after attacks with casualties and high levels of foreign media coverage.'

Employees and identity

'How does a hobby evolve into a business? This paper examines how entrepreneurs transition from freelance ventures—creating organisations “on the side” to test the entrepreneurial waters while maintaining full-time employment—to establishing formal businesses. I investigate this entrepreneurial emergence through a qualitative study of pop-up and underground restaurants.'

Hedge fund activism

1) 'We use a social network framework to study interactions between hedge fund activists and institutional investors. Actively-managed funds whose managers are socially connected to activists are more likely to increase holdings in target stocks during activist campaigns. More importantly, connected investors vote against target management more often, and the effect is more pronounced when they raise their stakes.'

2) 'This paper utilises a rich literature on institutional investors' governance roles and develops simple measures of institutional discontent expressed through holding, trading and voice channels to predict hedge fund activism target selection.'

Human rights and soft law

'Globalisation, largely fuelled by foreign direct investment, is undeniably associated with a wide range of benefits, particularly in terms of economic growth. However, globalisation is also accompanied by serious dangers, especially with regard to sustainability, which includes environmental and human rights (HR) issues.'

Identity

'We study product innovation rumours and find that they shape perceptions inside and outside the firm. Product innovation rumours are used despite the debated legitimacy of technology blogs. Rumours augment validated knowledge from more legitimate sources that may not be freely available. Firms can influence external actors through selective revealing and seeding of rumours. Rumours address the paradox of openness by forming an informal means of gathering insight.'

Networks

'Using annual ratings from nearly 300 interest groups, we estimate the ideological locations of Republican legislators in order to map their party's factional structure.'

Rankings

'We measure the influence of reputation rankings on individuals’ perceptions of firms. Through experimental design, we vary whether and how participants are exposed to a reputation ranking alongside other information about a firm.'

Scandal

'We propose that the media has an active role in shaping how external audiences come to understand and make sense of a scandal, independent of the actual transgressions. We investigate the evolution of meaning and its effect on Members of Parliament (MP) resignations during the 2009 British Parliamentary Expense Scandal.'

Social networks and brands

'Influencer marketing is prevalent in firm strategies, yet little is known about the factors that drive success of online brand engagement at different stages of the consumer purchase funnel. The findings suggest that sponsored blogging affects online engagement (e.g., posting comments, liking a brand) differently depending on blogger characteristics and blog post content, which are further moderated by social media platform type and campaign advertising intent.'

Social structures and Big Data text analysis

'We are observing a renewal of approaches to text and content analysis. By opening up the toolkit of computational linguistics methods for text analysis, Big Data may bring about fresh synthesis and reshape classic debates around social structure.'

Status

1) 'This paper investigates how we infer the status of others from their social relationships. In a series of experimental studies, we test the effects of a social relationship's type and direction on the status judgements of others.'

2) 'Merton’s famous essay on recognition and rewards in scientific careers, "The Matthew Effect in Science”, has reached middle age. The authors engage with Merton’s cumulative status advantage, and go further to identify downsides of increased recognition both for individuals and for the status system itself.'

3) 'Current research on status hierarchy dynamics focuses on the potential for, and constraints to, individual mobility. In this essay, I argue that Merton’s Matthew Effect incorrectly categorises activity below a status threshold as linear. This misspecification calls into question existing models of competitions for social status.'

Stigma and legitimacy

'Based on an in-depth historical study of how Thomas Cook’s travel agency moved from stigmatisation to legitimacy among the elite of Victorian Britain, we develop a model of organisational destigmatisation.'

Strategy

1) 'Our study theorises and tests why organisations engage in more external transparency as an open strategy practice and the share-price related outcomes associated with these practices.'

2) 'We develop and test a set of hypotheses on investors' reactions to a specific form of impression management, public presentations of overall strategy by Chief Executive Officers (CEOs).'