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Reputation ( Latin reputatio "consideration", "consideration" from reputo "calculate", "consider", "consider") refers to the reputation of a person , a social group or an organization .


Reputation is an indication of how someone will behave in the future and makes it easier to make decisions in this context. Reputation is based on trust and credibility , and sometimes belief .

Reputation can be understood in Pierre Bourdieu's terminology as symbolic capital , a resource that is based on the collective recognition of the economic, cultural and social capital of the person with a reputation and equips them with appropriate social prestige and “discursive power of definition”.

In companies, reputation is an intangible asset and is part of company value, as is, for example, patents and trademarks .


To date, there is no economic definition of reputation in the literature. According to Joachim Schwalbach , there is a common notion, but no general definition.

In economics, reputation is understood to be an intertemporal and self-asserting incentive structure based on specific information requirements. The economic concept of reputation is therefore a special variant of a relational contract and is often formally analyzed in terms of game theory, namely as a repeated game with incomplete information. Reputation has elements related to the past and the future: The person or institution who wants to acquire a positive reputation (or: to “invest” in one) carries out an action in order to influence the expectations of the addressee in his own sense (future orientation). It does not necessarily have to be a “positive” reputation, like the reputation for quality or competence, but it can also be negative. For example, in the criminal milieu it is often a matter of acquiring a reputation for aggressiveness, toughness and ruthlessness, because these are beneficial factors of power. For the addressees of the reputation, the action should be observable and interpretable as clearly as possible. The target group interprets the observed behavior (past orientation) and - if the observed action was convincing - forms the corresponding reputation expectations.

Robert Burkhardt offers the following working definitions for the business context:

  • Reputation : Reputation in the sense of company reputation is the totality of how a company is perceived by its interest groups , including past and future aspects. It is an extract of various individual experiences, requirements and cognitive attitudes that enable people to anticipate the future behavior of a company and its impact on their needs. Because of this, reputation is highly dependent on the socio-cultural environment. Reputation is neutral. A positive reputation is characterized by four dimensions: credibility , reliability, trustworthiness and responsibility .
  • Reputation management : Reputation management encompasses the entirety of all systematic corporate activities that serve to build, maintain and improve a positive corporate reputation. The aim is to permanently increase the company's value. Reputation management is an obligation for responsible communication with all interest groups and reflects the corporate culture ; it is not opportunistic lip service.

To distinguish between reputation and image : Image in the sense of corporate image represents the overall impression a company has on a person, which mostly reflects the corporate identity. Comparable to a snapshot, image is a short-term phenomenon and therefore volatile . It is subject to permanent changes that reflect how a company would like to be viewed by its target groups. To achieve this, image can be quickly adapted using unidirectional communication (e.g. campaigns ). While reputation aims to permanently increase the long-term company value, image is a means to increase the short-term value by attracting potential customers.

Historical development

Reputation in the form of a good or bad reputation can be traced back to the animal-human transition field. It makes us predictable for others and is therefore a basic requirement for living together in a society. From a business point of view, the roots go back to the 18th century. In 1766, Adam Smith documented two behaviors: First, fraud is not profitable because a single fraud ends up costing more contracts than the number that can be won in the same amount of time. Second, the willingness to cheat a customer depends on the frequency of the deals that are made together. Smith was the first to describe a relationship between a trader's behavior and economic success, and laid the foundation for reputation management.

Until the 1950s, reputation in the seller markets of western industrial nations was not a serious issue. It was not until the 1980s that a change came: due to increasing globalization and the resulting mergers and acquisitions, soft factors gained in importance. In 1983, Carl Shapiro introduced reputation into modern literature by analyzing the correlation between quality and reputation. He found that reputation plays an important role in the buying process when the quality of a product is not clearly evident.

Fombrun finally helped Reputation achieve a breakthrough: With his standard work Reputation. Realizing Value from the Corporate Image , he transferred the subject from the level of scientific discussion to the consciousness of business people in 1996. A high level of practical relevance and his approach to dealing systematically with reputation were unique up to then.

Importance in Asia

According to the Chinese, but also the Thai way of thinking, every person has a face. The two terms for this are mianzi (面子) and lian (脸) in Chinese . The "face" is given through social recognition or withdrawn through disregard. Saving face another means not exposing weak points. Whoever gives reputation also gains prestige. Whoever takes someone else's face has also lost his own.

Loss of face is called the sudden drop in one's reputation. In both Chinese and Thai cultures, the face is also understood as the opinion of others about a certain person. Hence the loss of face in Chinese culture, e.g. B. a special meaning. Even in cultures of shame such as ancient Japan, loss of face was serious and usually irreversible for those affected. “To lose face” means to have been brought into a situation in which one should be ashamed ; it is comparable to the loss of honor in oriental and occidental societies .

Reputation management

Reputation management is a strategy in the event of a crisis in the context of public relations , consisting of crisis management and crisis communication for private individuals, public persons, legal entities and companies.

See also


  • Michael L. Barnett, John M. Jermier, Barbara A. Lafferty: Corporate Reputation: The Definitional Landscape. In: Corporate Reputation Review. Vol. 9, No. 1, 2006, ISSN  1363-3589 ; Pp. 26-38, doi : 10.1057 / palgrave.crr.1550012 .
  • Bernhard Bauhofer: Reputation Management. Credibility in the competition of the 21st century: Orell Füssli, Zurich 2004, ISBN 3-280-05090-1 .
  • Robert Burkhardt: Reputation Management in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. Analysis and evaluation of the use of reputation management. A survey of small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany. Diplomica-Verlag, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8366-5825-6 (also: Ludwigshafen, University of Applied Sciences, Master's thesis, 2007).
  • Federal Association of German Press Spokespersons (Ed.): Reputationsmanagement. Goals, strategies and success factors (= service - a series of publications by the Federal Association of German Press Spokespersons . No. 13, ZDB -ID 2573467-2 ). Federal Association of German Press Spokespersons, Berlin 2009.
  • Sabine Einwiller: Trust through reputation in electronic commerce. Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2003, ISBN 3-8244-7865-X (also: St. Gallen, University, dissertation, 2003).
  • Mark Eisenegger: Reputation in the media society . Constitution, issues monitoring, issues management. VS, Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-531-14636-X (At the same time: Zurich, University, dissertation, 2004: Reputation Constitution, Issues Monitoring and Issues Management in the Media Society. ).
  • Charles J. Fombrun: Reputation. Realizing value from the corporate image. Harvard Business, Boston MA 1996, ISBN 0-87584-633-5 .
  • Joachim Klewes , Robert Wreschniok: Reputation Capital. Building and Maintaining Trust in the 21st Century. Springer, Berlin et al. 2009, ISBN 978-3-642-01629-5 .
  • Michaela I. Abdelhamid: The economization of trust. A Critique of Current Concepts of Trust. Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2018, ISBN 978-3-8376-4205-6 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Reputation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. According to a survey of executives, reputation is now the most important intangible asset that is capable of creating decisive competitive advantages in the future; see. Richard Hall: The Strategic Analysis of Intangible Resources , In: Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 2, 1992, pp. 145 ff.
  2. ^ Joachim Schwalbach: Reputation. Research report, Berlin 2004, (PDF) ( Memento from May 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Marcus Wiens: Trust in the economic theory , 2013, Chapter 4, Münster, LIT-Verlag.
  4. ^ Drew Fudenberg and Jean Tirole: Game Theory , Cambridge, MIT-Press, 1991.
  5. ^ Paul Milgrom and John Roberts: Predation, Reputation, and Entry Deterrence , Journal of Economic Theory, No. 27, pp. 280-312, 1992.
  6. ^ Robert Burkhardt: Reputation Management 2007, p.
  7. ^ Adam Smith: Lecture on the Influence of Commerce on Matters . In: Daniel Klein: Reputation. Studies in the Voluntary Elicitation of Good Conduct . Ann Arbor 1997.
  8. ^ Carl Shapiro: Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations . In: The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 4/1983.
  9. ^ Knaur, The German Dictionary, Lexicographical Institute Munich, 1985, page 425