Managing Corporate Reputation : Management Challenges to Communicate the Corporate Identity in a SME
Abstract: During the times of fast phased global business, organizations must discover new ways to make functional strategies to survive, so the search for competitive advantage remains the main objective for companies. Intangible assets are increasingly essential for value creation for firms due to their valuable, rare, inimitable, non-substitutable nature. Particularly corporate reputation can be identified as an essential intangible asset possessed by a firm, due to its tacit nature. Hence, managing and understanding the antecedent of corporate reputation management is crucial for gaining competitive advantage. Moreover, focus on valuing and understanding the intangibles is essential for SMEs, which usually possess fewer resources for evaluating and managing these resources compared to large and more structured companies. Worldwide SMEs are in general representing over half of the economy, and enhanced business performance can further positively influence on the economic wealth. We were able to identify a research gap since there are no studies on how to utilize corporate reputation management in the SME context without a large scale of resources or the separate marketing department. We want to fill the gap by providing empirical evidence on the process of improving reputation management in Finnish SME setting. The purpose of this thesis is to gain more in-depth understanding of the prevailing corporate identity and communication in the SME and how to utilize these as an antecedent of corporate reputation by evaluating the internal managerial perceptions of the Finnish engineering installation company, Alpha Group. Furthermore, the aim is to give practical suggestions for managing corporate reputation by implementing an appropriate way to communicate the desired corporate identity both internally and externally. A framework has been created from the previous literature where a process for managing corporate reputation is compiled. Corporate identity represents an antecedent of corporate reputation, whereas corporate communication can be seen as a management tool to manage it. To fulfill the purpose of the thesis, a qualitative study was conducted, with eight semi-structured interviews with the top and middle managers of Alpha Group. Through the interviews, we gained a more in-depth understanding of the current condition of corporate identity as well as internal and external communications. From our findings, we could conclude that scarcity of resources is limiting the development of intangible resources in Alpha Group. Reputation of Alpha Group is based on the operational factors, rather than managed intentionally, so currently it is strongly associated only to serve their clients. Corporate identity was found unclear within the organization and the organization did not have strategy for corporate communications. This has caused unidentifiable corporate identity within organization, which has led to scattered corporate identity between different locations and business units. We will provide practical recommendations for managers of SMEs in general and for Alpha Group, on how to manage corporate identity and establish corporate communication systems.
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