Overcoming a corporate reputation crisis through managing CEO reputation
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In crisis literature, the concept of reputation has been treated as the consequence of crises, or a mediator of crisis effects. Departing from this research trend, the present study placed reputation at the center of research and attempts to examine crisis phenomena through the perspective of reputation. This theoretical emphasis was manifested by the introduction of the concept reputational crisis and the resource-based approach to crisis. The current study thereby set its goals as: (1) advancing crisis research by providing a useful framework for analysis of crises through incorporating the reputation perspective, and (2) tap into a new strategic resource pool for crisis communication that goes beyond rhetoric-based message options. For these purposes, this study introduced two types of reputational crises [i.e., Corporate Ability (CA) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) crises] for the analysis. In addition, by introducing two types of CEO’s reputations [i.e., Competent (C-type) and Ethical (E-type) reputations], this study explored the potential of a CEO’s reputation for helping repair a tarnished corporate reputation in the aftermath of a corporate crisis. A series of online experiments demonstrated the validity of the crisis categorizations, as well as the effects of a favorable reputation of CEO on stakeholders’ reactions to corporate crises. The findings suggested that the two types of crises serve as useful tools for analyzing crises, while providing valuable insights into understanding how stakeholders react to a corporate crisis and how practitioners should manage crisis communication. In addition, the significant effect of the CEO’s reputation on the managerial efforts to overcome a corporate crisis demonstrated the efficacy of a resource-based approach to crisis communication, which is expected to inspire a new avenue of crisis research that goes beyond the message-centered approaches.
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