How should analyst relations relate to top executives’ growing concern about corporate reputation? Corporations have supported the establishment of research centres focussed on corporate reputation at a number of prestigious universities, including Oxford and Henley. Yesterday I visited the head of the largest of these centres, which is part of my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Manchester‘s faculty of humanities.
The reputation group in the faculty’s Manchester Business School runs a research-heavy masters degree in corporate reputation, with almost 100 students, and around two dozen researchers, including faculty and doctoral candidates. Their approach starts from a corporate communications chain whose elements will be familiar with many of this blog’s readers, and develops a well-established ideas of corporate personality which extend ‘big five’ psychometric dimensions.
To ease understanding, the resulting model, shown here, focuses on key stakeholders: employees and customers. However, the model stresses both tangible reactions to products and services and also the emotional or relationship attachment that people have to the companies they interact with. In that way, the Manchester group’s work reflects much of the findings of our research at Lighthouse.
Furthermore, another pleasing symmetry is in the evolution of their work from understanding, to diagnosis to prescription. It also reflects the way in which Lighthouse’s research and consulting services have developed.
However, application introduces complexities: while the Manchester model initially emphasizes the customer and employee experience of products and services, their interests are developing in less tangible areas of reputation, such as investors’ and policy-makers’ approaches.
We’ll be returning to this theme in a couple of months.