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Measurement and Management of Chief Executive Reputation

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Richard Rinkenburger

Whereas the importance of CEO reputation has increased over the last years, only very little scientific research has been conducted. This thesis addresses the vagueness of past conceptualizations by providing a well-founded theoretical background, the development of a reliable and valid measurement model of CEO reputation as well as the validation of identified relations to its antecedents and consequences. An empirical online study was conducted among students of the university in Munich to validate the CEO reputation model. Using PLS path modeling, the analysis provides evidence for the impact of CEO reputation on several outcome variables (e.g., corporate reputation) and confirms different influences of the identified antecedents on CEO reputation. Thereby, practitioners can get valuable implications for the management of chief executives’ reputations.

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Chief executives are increasingly perceived as the representatives of their companies not only by employees and investors but by all stakeholder groups alike. The decisions of all these people – who to work for, who to invest in, and who to trust in – are argued to be (at least partly) influenced by the reputation of the CEO. Simultaneously, the media interest in the top management of firms has intensified focusing on the executives’ right- and wrong-doing. Accordingly, firms are facing the question – especially in light of recent scandals and misbehaviors by executives – as to whether and to what extent the CEOs actually matters, especially for the reputation of the company led. Shall com- panies actively manage the reputation of chief executives and, more importantly, how can it be managed at all? What is CEO reputation in the first place? So far, only little scientific research has been conducted on this topic in general and on these questions in particular. This thesis addresses the vagueness of past conceptualizations by providing a well-founded theoretical background for future research on CEO reputation. First, a clear comprehension and definition of the term “CEO reputation” is developed. Second, based on this definition, CEO reputation is embedded into a model representing its relationships to potential antecedents and consequences. Finally, the new conceptualization is completed by the operationalization of the CEO reputation model. In order to validate this model, an empirical online study was conducted among students of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. This explanatory as well as...

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