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Hardcover | $36.95 Trade | £30.95 | 280 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 15 figures, 3 tables | April 2016 | ISBN: 9780262034463
eBook | $25.95 Trade | April 2016 | ISBN: 9780262335072
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Winning the Reputation Game

Creating Stakeholder Value and Competitive Advantage


What does a company have to do to be admired and respected? Why does Apple have a better reputation than, say, Samsung? In Winning the Reputation Game, Grahame Dowling explains. Companies’ reputations do not derive from consultant-recommended campaigns to showcase efforts at corporate transparency, environmental sustainability, or social responsibility. Companies are admired and respected because they are “simply better” than their competitors. Companies that focus on providing outstanding goods and services are rewarded with a strong reputation that helps them gain competitive advantage.

Dowling, who has studied corporate reputation–building for thirty years, describes two core strategies for creating a corporate reputation that will provide a competitive advantage: to be known for being Best at Something or for being Best for Somebody. Apple, for example, is best at personal technology products that enhance people’s lifestyles. IKEA is best for people who want well-designed furniture at affordable prices.

Dowling covers such topics as the commercial value of a strong reputations—including good employees, repeat customers, and strong share price; how corporate reputations are formed; the power of “being simply better”; the effectiveness of corporate storytelling (for good or ill; Kenneth Lay of Enron was a master storyteller); and keeping out of trouble.

Drawing on many real-world examples, Dowling shows how companies that are perceived to be better than their competitors build strong reputations that reflect past success and promise more of the same. Companies that artificially engineer a reputation with irrelevant activities but have stopped providing the best products and services available often wind up with mediocre—or worse—reputations.

About the Author

Grahame R. Dowling is Emeritus Professor at the University of New South Wales, where he was affiliated with the Australian Graduate School of Management and the Australian School of Business. He is now Professor of Marketing at the University Technology Sydney and an International Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation. He is also the author of Creating Corporate Reputations.


“Grahame Dowling, one of the world’s leading scholars of corporate reputation, frames and answers the most important questions managers are asking about corporate reputation. This lucid and insightful book is a state-of-the-art collection of case studies and research findings. An invaluable resource for practitioners and scholars of corporate reputation.”
Donald S. Siegel, Dean and Professor, School of Business, University at Albany, SUNY
“Grahame Dowling is famous for taking a devil’s advocate stance and he has done it in spades with this book. He asks us to question conventional wisdom about reputation, presenting his own take on it, arguing for its importance, and explaining how firms should best approach it.”
Peggy Simcic Brønn, Professor, Norwegian Business School; coauthor of Open or Introverted: Reputation Building for Organizations
“A comprehensive, forward-looking treatise of corporate reputation from a stakeholder perspective. Dowling’s extensive coverage of corporate reputation from different angles offers several novel insights for all those interested in playing and winning the reputation game. A delightful read and a must-have for multiple audiences.”
CB Bhattacharya, Pietro Ferrero Chair in Sustainability, European School of Management and Technology