Dimensions for Reputation in the Public

Mathibeli, Thabo Wahls
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While there is appreciation for the need to manage and improve reputations among businesses in South Africa, the public sector has been left behind in terms of how to manage their reputations. In fact, globally, very little has been written about reputation management in a public sector context. Current practise is that public sector organisations engage in crisis management exercises when bad publicity surfaces, rather than proactive efforts to improve their images, even in times of relative calm. The purpose of this research is to investigate the dimensions of organisational reputation for public sector organisations. The study will identify drivers of organisational reputation that can significantly enhance reputation management within the public sector. The basic design of the research is qualitative in nature. It is based on a phenomenological type of qualitative research, which deals with understanding peoples’ perceptions, perspectives, and understandings of a particular situation. Open ended questions were distributed randomly among the respondents to draw frank, direct opinions about the positions of the respondents on the subject. A questionnaire was used for this purpose. The research tool was used to establish which elements shape the perceptions of the public about these institutions. It was found that the dimensions for reputation in the public sector organisations are leadership, especially the political element; quality and value of services; governance issues; workplace environment; and performance in rendering services. The findings of this research will be used as a basis for development of frameworks that South African public organisations can adopt to actively manage their reputations. Such a framework may also have global relevance in advising government departments what the critical elements are in holistic improvement of their reputations and images rather than narrow focus on issues that add no value
Reputation management, Public sector reputation