Las compañías tienen que apostar por la reputación - Liderando la reputación corporativa de las empresas - Corporate
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Las compañías tienen que apostar por la reputación

05 de junio de 2012

En las últimas semanas se han producido debates y conversaciones en la red en torno a la importancia o no de la gestión de la reputación corporativa. Académicos y profesionales se ha posicionado en este tema. El dilema nace a partir del post en el blog Schumpeter de The Economist magazince bajo el titulo “What’s in a name? Why companies should worry less about their reputations”.

Desde Corporate Excellence consideramos que la reputación se ha convertido en el verdadero territorio por el que compiten empresas, organizaciones y países. Las empresas del siglo XXI no compiten por lo que es fácilmente copiable. En un mundo de productos y servicios cada vez más homogéneos, que son copiados y comercializados a menor precio por las economías emergentes, la diferenciación adquiere valor estratégico. El territorio de la competencia está en la innovación y en los intangibles. Consideramos que en este nuevo entorno hay que competir por aquello que genera márgenes, que genera riqueza, la clave está en competir con los intangibles de mayor valor, como la marca y la reputación corporativa.

Quienes hoy formamos Corporate Excellence coincidimos en que la reputación está en la base de la recuperación de la confianza. Y la confianza es un factor básico para crear valor a largo plazo. Además estamos totalmente convencidos de que hoy quien detenta el poder son los stakeholders. Ellos son los responsables de la supervivencia de las organizaciones a largo plazo.

En este sentido, os compartimos las líneas que el gurú de la reputación Charles Fombrun, con quien estuvimos la semana pasada en la Conferencia Internacional de Reputación, ha publicado en Expansión en respuesta al artículo anteriormente mencionado y bajo el título: “Las compañías deberían preocuparse más por su reputación, no menos”:

I would be remiss not to react to the provocative blog published by the Schumpeter namesake columnist in The Economist this week, in which consultancies such as Reputation Institute were criticized for distracting companies from their core activities by encouraging them to focus on improving how they manage their reputational assets.

That was an inaccurate characterization of our work. I wrote my original book ‘Reputation’ in 1996 precisely to defend the thesis that a company’s reputation is a new form of ‘cognitive asset’ whose economic value is rapidly growing and so should be recognized, measured, and actively managed on par with a company’s more tangible assets. 

Then as now, those of us providing strategic advice in this space have repeatedly stated that reputation is not an end in itself. Rather, reputation is an outcome of a process that connects a company’s value proposition and business model to what it stands for in its everyday behavior and actions. Indeed, the example that the Economist provides of BP under Browne/Hayward is a very good example of how a company that tried to manage the company’s reputation as a stand-alone asset would fail precisely because the images it was trying to convey about the company was not aligned with its behavior.

If we have learned anything in the years of research and analysis done since I wrote my first academic article on this topic in 1990, it’s that every company needs institutional support from a broad stakeholder ecosystem in which it is embedded, and that no company wins support by simply engaging in advertising and PR campaigns that do not reinforce the reality of what the company is actually doing. 

We have taken to describing the emerging socio-economic system around companies as a ‘reputation economy’ to capture the fact that earning support is increasingly a function, not of marketing and PR, but of direct experiences, on one hand, and of hearsay, on the other. In this reputation economy, the companies that are emerging as leaders are worrying as never before with generating positive real-time experiences on the frontlines, while simultaneously securing favorable impressions from the diffuse clouds forming around them. That is what we mean by active reputation management. The best of these companies are doing it by strategically constructing an array of initiatives designed to align their company’s vision with its capabilities and by ensuring that these initiatives address the expectations of their stakeholders.

In the short run, however, it’s true that many companies can and will prosper without directly focusing on building reputation. But these companies are also likely candidates for going awry in the long run because lax practices mean they stockpile huge risks that later prove costly to mitigate (consider, for instance, the tobacco industry’s current payouts and regulation). Lacking a solid reputation, many of these companies also fail to take advantage of the opportunities they have to outperform rivals along the way. 

In Schumpeterian terms, a poor reputation invites creative destruction, whereas a strong reputation, rooted in deep-seated, trusting relationships with stakeholders, provides a powerful countervailing force to the unbridled rivalry of open competitive markets. Were he writing today, I am quite sure the original Joseph Schumpeter would have recognized reputation management as a powerful influence on the competitive dynamics of markets. To be fully competitive and value-creating, I suggest that companies and their managers need to worry more -not less- about their reputations.

Dr. Charles J. Fombrun
, Founder & Chairman, Reputation Institute 
New York