In Good Standing : The Public Value of Reputation Management

Aileen McHugh

    Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    Reputation, per se, is assessed externally by way of perceptions held by stakeholders and, in the main, quantitative approaches are used in academic research. Endogenous management of reputation in public sector settings, which is the subject matter of this particular study, is a perspective and context which has not received much scholarly attention to date. Reputation management is intertwined with the value system of an organisation and, in the public domain, involves trade-offs within a complicated authorising environment. In this study an interpretative analysis has been rationalised in terms of understanding the meanings ascribed by public servants themselves, to organisational reputation imperatives, and how subscription to a public value ideal might impact on their reputation management efforts. The sample frame involves overlapping research settings consisting of two newly emerging agencies, one the result of a merger, and the other, a shared services centre. The interdependence and simultaneous multi-level management of shared reputations in such public sector settings is evident from data generated through talk, text and context. Differing underlying institutional logics as well as competing agency discourses have been revealed. Analysing such discourses has surfaced disparities of approach and emphasis in reputation managment. The findings confirm that the inherent complexity and layered accountabilities, characteristic of public sector organisations, can compromise reputation mangement efforts. These findings are integrated with existing literature to develop a new conceptual framework for public sector reputation management that accounts for interaction between legitimacy, reputation, governance and performance. The contribution of this research is that the outcome of such interaction is conceptualized specifically in relation to public value theory. Although this study is limited to Irish public sector organisations, implications for public management practice generally arise from a shared international context of economic recession with an associated reputational crisis in public institutions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Whelan, Susan, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2014


    • Reputation management


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