Reputation Management: An Experimental Study of Public School Reputation Management: An Experimental Study of Public School

Felix Deat, Felix Deat
The concept of reputation has emerged as a central feature in the governance of public administration as to appreciate and heighten the impressions of stakeholders. Reputation is considered to be a construct that organizations may use by actively influencing the perceptual processing of stakeholders, especially through a focus on distinct expectations and values. Within this management perspective of reputation, organizations and scholars have proposed and analyzed the eminent function of
more » ... t function of corporate branding. Schultz and de Chernatony (2002) assuredly note that "corporate branding provides a basis for a corporation to develop and express its distinctiveness through its consistent relationships with all stakeholders (p.105)". Managing corporate branding refers to the deliberate and strategic process to construe and enhance the desired image of the organization to all stakeholders. Within this context, strategic communication, in the perspective of the utilitarian motivational function of brand management offers potential opportunity to not only enhance brand awareness but also prompt brand meaning. This research seeks to examine whether local agencies can influence the attitudes and behaviors of their constituents in their favor by managing the image(s) associated with their institutions. To explore this issue, an exploratory mixed-methods framework was selected to investigate the following question: To what extent do branding cues, as iii communicated by local public agencies, influence citizen attitudes and behavior towards that particular agency? Considering the objective of this dissertation, an exploratory, mixed-methods sequential design was used. More specifically, the research was carried out in the context of public schools in two phases: qualitative methods, including interviews with ten superintendents and the evaluation of more than 30 public school districts websites, were first used to collect important data, which were analyzed and the results were used to design the main quantitative experimental component of the study. The findings advocate for a fit approach of reputation management, which implicates to strengthen what the organization stands for and the capacity to recognize it, by directly influencing stakeholders perceptual processing. Within the framework of public schools, strategic branding communication appears as a feasible and compelling approach to promote positive reputation. Specifically, this study demonstrates that through the direct effects on both components of brand equity, strategic branding communication is capable to enhance the efforts of public organizations to favor positive reputation and uphold favorable attitudes and behaviors. iv