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Reputation-damaging events over a long time horizon: an event-system model of substantive reputation repair

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(Shaz) Ansari, Shahzad  ORCID logo


At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was under fire. Mistakes ranging from testing failures to communication mishaps, many of which pre-dated the pandemic, put the CDC’s reputation under severe strain. Rather than responding to a specific incident, the resulting complex web of reputation-damaging events (RDEs) pushed the agency to engage in a major reputation repair journey (Griffin, 2022; Morrison & Inglesby, 2023). To address the root causes of reputation damage, the CDC conducted a top-down overhaul ranging from its overly bureaucratic culture, operations, and data management capabilities, to its communication approach and partnerships (Morrison & Inglesby, 2023). A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey (2019) of 2,084 corporate leaders found similar trends. While most large firms surveyed experienced several RDEs over five years, substantive reputation repair efforts—i.e., top-down organizational changes to address root causes and prevent reoccurrence (Rhee & Kim, 2012)—were intermittent and asynchronous, responding to a configuration of RDEs rather than to a single event.



35 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services, 3507 Strategy, Management and Organisational Behaviour

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Journal of Management

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SAGE Publications