Reputation and identity conflict in management consulting
Based on a case study of a large consulting firm, this article makes two contributions to the literature on reputation and identity by examining how an organisation responds when its identity is substantially misaligned with the experience and perceptions of external stakeholders that form the basis of reputational judgments.
First, rather than triggering some form of identity adaptation, it outlines how other forms of identity can come into play to remediate this gap, buffering the organisation’s identity from change. This shift to other individual identities is facilitated by a low organisational identity context even when the identity of the firm is coherent and strong.
The second contribution concerns the conceptualisation of consulting and other professional service firms. We explain how reputation and identity interact in the context of the distinctive organisational features of these firms. Notably, their loosely coupled structure and the central importance of expert knowledge claims enable individual consultants both to reinforce and supplement corporate reputation via individual identity work.
Influence of reputation rankings
Sorry to (not) burst your bubble: the influence of reputation rankings on perceptions of firms
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. We find that rankings influence perceptions when they are negative and congruent with other information about the firm. These findings help explain how a firm’s reputation can change even if its characteristics remain constant and why change in a firm’s characteristics can be slow to produce change in its reputation. This research was supported by the Centre for Corporate Reputation.