The development of a new instrument to measure client-based corporate reputation in the service industry

Wepener, Marie Louisa (2014-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The link between a favourable corporate reputation and business benefits is well established. Most executives recognise the importance of a favourable corporate reputation in building a competitive advantage for their organisations. However, the measuring of a corporate reputation, particularly in the service industry, has remained problematic. This study addresses this lingering gap in the literature and focuses on the development of an instrument to measure the client-based corporate reputation of organisations functioning in the service industry. This includes the identification of the factors (dimensions) that clients of large service organisations consider when they evaluate the reputations of organisations. Large organisations functioning in two sectors, the banking sector and the airline sector, were selected as the focus in this study. Groundwork for the design of a reputation-measuring instrument included the clarification of key terms (e.g. corporate identity, corporate image, corporate brand and corporate reputation). It also included a review of corporate reputation from various perspectives (e.g. organisational studies, economics, strategy and corporate communication). It also included discussions on scale development and the various approaches to the conceptualisation and operationalisation of corporate reputation. This study followed mainly a positivistic paradigm, involving quantitative methods. However, two qualitative methods were also used: a focus group discussion to identify patterns of thinking used by clients to assess corporate reputation and the expert-panel method to obtain the inputs of a panel of experts. Six large-scale surveys in three waves served as primary data sources. Large samples of the target population were used to obtain data that was statistically analysable. Secondary data sources included an extensive literature review. To develop the measurement scale, a series of steps was used to refine, purify and replicate the instrument. The process started with an exploratory factor analysis and concluded with an invariance analysis. The data was analysed during three waves of data collection. A variety of statistical techniques was used to assess the construct validity of the proposed instrument, including unidimensionality, convergent validity, reliability, discriminant validity, nomological validity, model fit and invariance. The outcome is a 19-item instrument using five dimensions to measure the client-based corporate reputation of large organisations in the service industry. These dimensions are Emotional appeal, Corporate performance, Social engagement, Good employer and Service points. This study contributes to the existing literature by the development of a valid and reliable instrument that can be used to measure a service organisation’s client-based corporate reputation before embarking on a reputation-enhancement programme. This study proposes that the measurement of an organisation’s client-based corporate reputation is a crucial starting point to assess the gap between where it is and where it wants to be in terms of its corporate reputation, and to manage its reputation accordingly. By using the proposed instrument, managers will be able to track their organisations’ corporate reputation over time, both overall and at the level of the five dimensions separately.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die verband tusssen ’n gunstige korporatiewe reputasie en die voordele daarvan vir organisasies is goed gevestig. Die meeste bestuurders erken ook die belangrikheid van korporatiewe reputasie in die bou van ’n mededingende voordeel vir hul organisasies. Die effektiewe meting van korporatiewe reputasie is egter, veral in die dienstebedryf, steeds problematies. Teen dié agtergrond was die fokus van die proefskrif op die ontwikkeling van ’n instrument om die kliëntgebaseerde korporatiewe reputasie van organisasies in die dienstebedryf te meet. Dit sluit in die identifisering van die faktore (dimensies) wat die kliënte van groot diensteorganisasies oorweeg wanneer hulle organisasies se reputasies evalueer. Groot organisasies wat in twee bedryfsektore werksaam is, naamlik die banksektor en die lugrederysektor, is geselekteer as die fokus van hierdie studie. Die grondslag vir die ontwerp van ’n reputasiemetingsinstrument het die verduideliking van sleutelterme (soos korporatiewe identiteit, korporatiewe beeld, korporatiewe handelsmerk en korporatiewe reputasie) ingesluit. Dit het ook die bestudering van korporatiewe reputasie uit verskillende perspektiewe (soos organisatoriese studies, die ekonomie, strategie en korporatiewe kommunikasie) behels. ’n Bespreking van skaalontwikkeling en die verskillende benaderings tot die konseptualisering en operasionalisering van korporatiewe reputasie het deel van hierdie aanvoorwerk gevorm. Hierdie studie het hoofsaaklik ’n positivistiese paradigma gevolg wat kwantitatiewe metodes ingesluit het. Twee kwalitatiewe metodes is egter ook gebruik: ’n fokusgroepbespreking om die denkpatrone te identifiseer wat kliënte gebruik om korporatiewe reputasie te evalueer en die ekspertpaneelmetode om die insette van ’n paneel kenners te bekom. Daarby het ses grootskaal-opnames in drie golwe as primêre databronne gedien. Groot steekproewe van die teikenpopulasie is gebruik om data te bekom wat statisties analiseerbaar was. Sekondêre databronne het ’n omvattende literatuurstudie ingesluit. Om die metingsinstrument te ontwikkel, is ’n reeks stappe gevolg om die instrument te verfyn, te suiwer en te repliseer. Die vertrekpunt was ’n verkennende faktoranalise en die proses is afgesluit met ’n analise van die invariansie. Die data is ontleed in drie datainsamelingsfases. ’n Verskeidenheid statistiese tegnieke – soos eendimensionaliteit, konvergerende geldigheid, betroubaarheid, diskriminante geldigheid, nomologiese geldigheid, modelpassing en invariansie – is toegepas om die konstrukgeldigheid van die voorgestelde instrument te evalueer. Die uitkoms is ’n 19-item-instrument wat vyf dimensies gebruik om die kliëntgebaseerde korporatiewe reputasie van groot organisasies in die dienstebedryf te meet. Hierdie dimensies is Emosionele aantrekkingskrag, Korporatiewe prestasie, Sosiale betrokkenheid, Goeie werkgewer en Dienspunte. Hierdie studie dra by tot die bestaande literatuur deur die ontwikkeling van ’n geldige en betroubare instrument wat gebruik kan word om ’n diensteorganisasie se kliëntgebaseerde korporatiewe reputasie te bepaal voordat ’n reputasieversterkingsprogram in werking gestel word. Die studie stel voor dat die meting van ’n organisasie se kliëntgebaseerde korporatiewe reputasie ’n uiters belangrike vertrekpunt vorm vir die assessering van die gaping tussen waar die organisasie hom tans bevind en waar hy wil wees, en om hierdie reputasie dienooreenkomstig te bestuur. Bestuurders sal met behulp van die voorgestelde instrument hul organisasies se korporatiewe reputasie oor tyd kan navolg – oorkoepelend, sowel as op die vlak van elke afsonderlike dimensie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96085
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