Essay: Reputation management in organsations

1.0 Introduction

The term reputation is plainly characterized by Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) as `the estimation in which one is held; character in public opinion; the character to attribute to a person, thing or action; repute’, nonetheless, it is impossible to finalize a singular definition for the term. This then comes down to the entomb connection between corporate reputation and image. Gotsi and Wilson [2001] ‘s paper examined on the relationship of both the latter variables went ahead to infer that reputation is something earned while image is associated with the side the organization want the people to see.

As time goes by, researches have delineated various definitions that may have challenged the many explanations available.

Gotsi and Wilson [2001] guarantee that organizations these days are more particular in sustaining a fine reputation. On the other hand, Davies and Miles [1998] attempts to ratinalise reputation management as something intrinsic in an organization and it develop naturally. The researchers went ahead to bolster their claim by rethinking at the after effects of the review, which demonstrates little reactions on developing the reputation of a company.

1.1 Research Questions

In light of the above discussion, two research questions (RQs) are advanced.

(i) Do organizations with higher turnover manage reputation better?

(ii) Did Malaysian Airlines use the appropriate steps to rebuild their organization’s image?

In order to test the RQ(s) above, this paper will further analyse two journal articles by Sienkiewicz, M. 2015. Open BUK: Digital Labor, Media Investigation and the Downing of MH17. and Gibney, M. 2015. The Downing of MH17: Russian Responsibility?.

2.0 Review of contents

It is important to note that an organization’s reputation has to be secured at all circumstances. Hence, reputation management is used as an aid to form a better image on the entity. Keeping in mind the end goal to manage the previous, Hutton, Goodman, Alexander and Genest [2001] claims that public relations are used as building blocks to advance and lead organizations.

Moving along, reputation cannot be independent variable, taxonomies of research claims that reputation has to be inter related with image. A typical example will be with the flag carrier airline, Malaysia Airlines, carrier catastrophe in spite of the endeavor for the stakeholders to convey well in managing an emergency in order to maintain their reputation, however, the company’s image had been tarnished internationally. It is essential to note that Malaysian airlines is still in the midst of recovering from their major black swan event that took place in the same year. With ongoing strikes towards this 70-year-old airline, another black swan event happened mid 2014, which is the MH17 untoward mishap. In accordance with that, Finn and Newsom states the two factors are inescapable and attempting to ensure and safeguard them would be fairly shallow and a taunt up.

In dealing with reputation management, Hutton et al [2001] remains close by with Gotsi and Wilson [2001] to state that organizations are making reputation as a tool that drives them further. Warren Buffet [cited in Hutton et al. 2001] lives with a colloquialism that losing reputation is unforgiveable and outrage compared to losing financial security.


According to Watts, (2014) MAS did not attack or directly blame the perpetrators in shooting down the plane. MAS did not deny that the plane was shot down. This was apparent when the organisation released the status of the flight to the public through Twitter less than four hours after the incident (Coffee, 2014). MAS did not state the party or parties’ name that was responsible for the tragic event (Quartz, 2014). In fact, MAS utilised the Malaysian ministers to scapegoat the alleged perpetrators without naming them (Quartz, 2014). This was evident when Najib Razak and Liow Tiong Lai stated that they were working with foreign officials from various countries such as Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine and Australia to bring the perpetrators to justice (Watts, 2014). The lack of appearance of MAS’ officials during press conferences angered the victims of MH17’s next-of-kin. According to Bakar, Hamzah and Muhammad, (2014) MAS handled the crisis professionally by not playing the blame game but their statement was not agreed by Kembrey, (2014) whom states that MAS’ lack of confronting the alleged perpetrators; Russia and Ukraine, demonstrated that MAS did not care about the victims; simply because the organisation would rather not get involved with the geopolitical issues between those two nations.


Diminishing is a tactic whereby organisations use excuses to assert the organisation’s inability to control the event and using justifications to minimise the perceived damages, and this is a strategy used by organisations to lessen their crisis responsibility as well (Coombs, 2006). In some crisis like the MH17, the organisation is a victim just like their stakeholders; events such as natural disasters and workplace violence are usually out of the control, so organisations can use emotions to gain sympathy from the media and the non-stakeholders (Coombs, 2002). Unlike most of the other crisis response strategy, diminishing usually involves the organisation expressing shame and/or regret over the crisis event, which will lead to a positive response from the public if it is applied correctly (Van der Meer & Verhoeven, 2014). MAS’ primary stakeholder is the government of Malaysia. Hence, Najib Tun Razak conducted a quiet diplomacy when he directly accused the rebel leader in Ukraine for causing the disaster, and by officially stating that he has spoken to the rebel leader and securing safety for the Malaysian rescue and investigation team in Ukraine, Najib has successfully shown to the world that Malaysian Airlines is not at fault for the crisis but rather the rebel troupes in Ukraine (Raj, 2014).


According to Coombs (1998), rebuild strategy should be used when an organisation are drawn into a crisis where their image and reputations are disrupted and tarnished. Narrowing it down to the MH17 crisis, MAS was not caught off guard since the helpless disappearance of MH370 (Watts, 2014). Hence, they were somewhat vigilant of crisis communications and plans during the second untoward mishap. Therefore, concerns about the victim and their next-of-kin were primary for MAS; such that they heavily relied on sending their concerns out. A few minutes after the disappearance of the plane, MAS sent out a tweet to confirm that they lost contact of MH17 (Raj, 2014).

In order to reduce the impact brought by the crisis, Beniot & Czerwinski (1997) suggest compensation where victims are reimbursed for events. As a matter of fact, MAS has learnt to be compassionate to the victims’ family members (Watts, 2014). They extended compensation to the families of those on board the flight. Customers and stakeholders became sceptical of how they use the organisation’s service (Watts, 2014). In an attempt not to further damage their reputation, hence as a way to rebuild their image, they have allowed other users to withdraw or change their flight bookings to a later date (Raj, 2014).

Besides, MAS should also be able to adjust information accordingly to help stakeholders cope psychologically, (Coombs, 2014). However, this was challenged in this crisis. Initially, MAS sent out the wrong information about the number of victims in their first press statement Kembrey, (2014). It is apparent that the organisation used social media sites to gather more information about the victims instead of having a condensed copy of passenger information’s on hand. Also, the airline went on to assure that a similar event will not occur again without providing an in-depth explanation of steps they initiated for the former (Raj, 2014). The number of condescending and intimidating comments about the airline broke through.

2.1 Reputation as social responsibility

Kitchen and Laurence [2003] views reputation as to have greater accountability to the organization and it is important for every aspect of the company to share the same social responsibility. On the off chance that this is intergrated, the entity can see fine growth. The researchers went on to dichtomise reputation management onto maintaining and making the receipient acknowledge them since their trademarks can’t remain solitary.

In any case, Herbig and Milewicz [1995] underline the need to construct a corporate reputation. Such that, it cannot be said that the analyses is contradictory. Reasonably, as the three latter researchers say, it is vital to have a brand before creating different viewpoints to drive an entity’s reputation. For example, the most renowned chocolate brand in the world ‘produces sullied snacks that may bring about medical issues, this does not mean that only the brand is affected but the corporation globally. Will, Probst and Schmidt support the need to intergrate, additionally, narrowing them to a much detailed intergration.

On the other hand, Hutton et al. [2001] claims that despite the many taxonomies available on the importance of an intergrated way to drive the entity, people tend to ‘disintegrate’their job. This then causes chaos in the organizational flow.

2.3 Dynamic in sustaining reputation

To develop a dynamic reputation, the organizations need to analyse the factors that may shift in a short and long period of time keeping in mind their aims and purposes. Kitchen and Laurence [2003] claims that CEOs are the heart of an entity. They assume an essential part in imparting straightforwardly and giving adequate information to the consumers and stakeholders. This is obvious in the paper composed by K, Nielsen and F, Nielsen [2011], in order to analyse the communication; entity should explore the one way or two-way communication. The entity ought not intensely depend on a strategy for communication. Organizations should also take into consideration the stakeholder’s perspective on the firm for improvement, [Crane & Livesey 2003]. Schultz and Walters [1997] states at its least there are five various reasons to count the consumers retention in, regardless, the end results is for the corporation and their reputation.

Benoit [1995] asserts that when reputation of an entity is at stake, we are at a vigirous drive to build up a wide range of remedies. Being at fault or not is optional. Essential significance is the routes use to rebuild the business confidence and image. Utilizing the same MH 17 contextual investigation, the carrier confronted the untoward disaster of a miserable missing plane MH370 couple of months before the following occurance. The initial information conveyed is shoddy and misdirecting. Their business exercises were imperiled, consumers and stakeholders began to lose trust and many withdrew their business dealings. Therefore, a clear communication flow would benefit the entity’s reputation.

Secondly, an organization’s performance and growth is able to affirm stakeholder’s participation especially financial gains because as a new stakeholder, the financial growth of an entity is a determinant and at paramount importance. The rationale is that the stakeholders gander at the master plan before digging further into the points of interest or internal informations of the firm

5.0 Conclusion

Taxonomies of research show that reputation is an asset to the organization. Especially these days, managing reputation has become of paramount importance in the majority number of firms. It is not merely about exploiting the resources an entity has, but to gather consumer and stakeholders in systematically managing them.

Also, Fombrun & Shanley [1990] helps to answer RQ (1) that not all organizations with a wealthy background are able to manage their reputation immovably. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that corporate reputation and image are not parallel because the way an organization depict their image can be predisposition (RQ 2). This in turn means reputation is not a by all and end all device to decide the growth of an organization.

However, the uses of richly, over expectational meassures taken to weigh reputation of an organization are inadequate because they are most likely to be superficial and bias. Consequently, the latter will jeopradize the analyses results. Also, Hutton [2001] asserts that the rising number of researchers has missed out looking at the way stakeholders are analysing reputation and managing it to drive the organization. Further research on the latter will be interesting.

In addition, airline administrators should focus their effort on specific areas of quality that had greater influence in explaining the customer’s intent to behave and their satisfaction. A follow-up study after implementing changes should be conducted from time to time at Malaysian Airlines for comparative analysis to identify improvements.

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