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Article
Publication date: 9 April 2021

Antti Rautiainen and Vilma Luoma-aho

This article analyzes the links between financial reports and reputation in the context of Finnish public sector organizations. In general, the paper discusses the…

Abstract

Purpose

This article analyzes the links between financial reports and reputation in the context of Finnish public sector organizations. In general, the paper discusses the accounting treatment of intangible and tangible assets and the quality and relevance of public sector financial reporting.

Design/methodology/approach

For data, we combine three data sets: financial statement information of eight anonymous Finnish public organizations, the results of a reputation survey among their key stakeholders (N = 914) and a sample of the social media sentiment around the organizations.

Findings

Our findings suggest that a decrease in spending and, surprisingly in the nonprofit sector, an increase in the surplus, indicate better perceived financial performance. An increase in surplus is positively linked with the reputational factors, for example, trust. However, disclosing excessive amounts of information, for example, in financial reporting seems to contribute to negative discussions on social media.

Practical implications

We highlight the importance of managing intangibles, including those not recognized in the balance sheet, such as reputation. We present three propositions with potential managerial relevance.

Originality/value

Despite the considerable amount of financial information disclosed by public sector organizations, few studies have analyzed its relevance or connection to reputation. This first-of-a-kind paper combines intangible and tangible assets by analyzing how financial data and intangible reputation are linked in the public sector accounting context. Six reputational factors were discovered, and financial performance was found to correlate with trust in the public sector.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 33 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2017

Maria-José Canel, Evandro Samuel Oliveira and Vilma Luoma-aho

The purpose of this paper is threefold: to introduce a theoretical frame regarding the meaning of legitimacy as an intangible asset of the public sector; to test a way of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is threefold: to introduce a theoretical frame regarding the meaning of legitimacy as an intangible asset of the public sector; to test a way of operationalizing legitimacy typologies that allows exploring and comparing how citizens from two countries evaluate the legitimacy of public policies; and to suggest implications for governments’ legitimacy-building strategies in shared international crisis, such as the refugees coming from the Syrian region.

Design/methodology/approach

Building on Suchman’s typology, it was defined and categorized different types of legitimacy into concrete measurable, communication related statements concerning consequential, procedural, structural and personal. For the illustrative example, four focus groups were conducted in two different European societies as a mean to have two poles of comparison.

Findings

The paper reports current understanding of legitimacy by citizens, discusses how different legitimacy types might demand different communication and public diplomacy approaches. The basis for hypothesis for further research on how governments should build legitimacy during emerging societal issues such as immigration policies is set.

Practical implications

It proposes a typology and its operationalization, discusses how communication might shape legitimacy and profiles the challenge governments have in building it. Within a public diplomacy context, it brings clues for new strategies to the challenge of explaining policies on international crisis combining the tension of domestic with foreign publics.

Originality/value

There is little research so far in search for clues for communication strategies for the legitimacy of policies on the 2015 European refugee’s crisis. This contributes to the emerging area of intangible assets in the public sector and tests a focus-group research strategy with both hermeneutical and pragmatic aims. Combine public diplomacy theory with public sector intangible assets theory to respond to the tension of internal and external public demands.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article
Publication date: 3 October 2016

Päivi Tampere, Kaja Tampere and Vilma Luoma-Aho

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the authority communication and its relationship to citizens during a disaster. This analysis is crucial for organisations to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the authority communication and its relationship to citizens during a disaster. This analysis is crucial for organisations to help them understand the different ways in which crises are perceived by citizens, and the reactions they may cause. The results will help authorities in planning their crisis communication.

Design/methodology/approach

Facebook comments written by authorities and citizens are studied and analysed in an exploratory case study related to the 2011 catastrophe in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant via content analysis.

Findings

The analysis of Facebook comments revealed that authorities have to be prepared for communicating with citizens with diverging interests, who have different perceptions on a crisis and that relation is not the same with those different profiles of citizens.

Research limitations/implications

This case study only focusses on the Fukushima debate from the point of view of the authorities and citizens.

Practical implications

This study argues that it is crucial for both authorities and public relations practitioners to acknowledge that competing opinion holders are challenging each other and authority online, and that crisis communication should be planned accordingly.

Originality/value

The participant profiles can help organisations to clarify citizens’ crisis perceptions that can emerge in online discussions. Practitioners need to concentrate on determining how to get their voice heard so that there are perceived credible and legitimate actors.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 3 October 2016

Hilkka Rissanen and Vilma Luoma-Aho

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a novel framework that includes degree, tone, and motives of consumer engagement of young consumers. Focusing on millennials…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a novel framework that includes degree, tone, and motives of consumer engagement of young consumers. Focusing on millennials, this paper offers preliminary look into their willingness and motives to engage with organizations on online environment. Based on narrative analysis, the authors establish nine different millennial engager types. The paper introduces a novel model grouping of motives for different tones and degrees of online engagement in the context of young consumers.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on qualitative data collected through focus group interviews of 31 Finnish millennials (ages of 16-19 years). Data were analyzed by thematic analysis and constructing narratives.

Findings

The results show that there are nine different engager groups based on their motives for online consumer engagement. Out of the nine engagement types identified, two were negative and five included forms of disengagement. The findings are illustrated on a continuum of engagement that acknowledges three types of engagement: positive engagement, negative engagement, and disengagement.

Practical implications

The study introduces a model of grouping engager types by motives. The model, once developed further, is a helpful framework to identify and target different types of engagers. Organizations aiming to engage millennials should be aware of different tones and approach engagement via both degree and tone.

Originality/value

The value of the paper is in its attempt to introduce a novel framework that includes degree, tone, and motives of consumer online engagement. It sheds light on millennials willingness to engage online in reality, and more importantly, the lack of engagement, and highlights the necessity of understanding the willingness behind consumer engagement.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 10 July 2017

Jana Lay-Hwa Bowden, Jodie Conduit, Linda D. Hollebeek, Vilma Luoma-aho and Birgit Apenes Solem

Online brand communities (OBCs) are an effective avenue for brands to engage consumers. While engaging with the brand, consumers simultaneously interact with other OBC…

Abstract

Purpose

Online brand communities (OBCs) are an effective avenue for brands to engage consumers. While engaging with the brand, consumers simultaneously interact with other OBC members; thus engaging with multiple, interrelated engagement objects concurrently. The purpose of this paper is to explore both positively and negatively valenced consumer engagement with multiple engagement objects, the interplay between these, and the spillover effect from consumers’ engagement with the OBC to their engagement with the brand.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on 16 in-depth interviews with OBC members of a luxury accessory brand, a constant comparative method was adopted using axial and selective coding procedures. The objective was to understand the nature of participants’ engagement with the brand, the OBC, and the interplay between individuals’ engagement with these objects. The coding framework and resultant interpretive frameworks address engagement valence, outcomes, and direction.

Findings

This study illustrates consumer expressions of consumers’ positively and negatively valenced engagement with a focal brand, and with the OBC. Further, it demonstrates the interplay (spillover effect) that occurs between consumers’ engagement with the OBC, to their engagement with the brand. While the existence of positively valenced engagement with the OBC was found to further enhance consumer brand engagement (i.e. reflecting an engagement accumulation effect), negatively valenced engagement with the OBC was found to reduce consumer brand engagement (i.e. reflecting an engagement detraction effect).

Originality/value

While consumer engagement has been recognized to have both positive and negative manifestations, this study demonstrates that consumers’ engagement valence may differ across interrelated engagement objects (i.e. the brand and the OBC). Further, we demonstrate the existence of engagement spillover effects from the OBC to the brand for both positively and negatively valenced engagement.

Details

Journal of Service Theory and Practice, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2055-6225

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Article
Publication date: 7 January 2014

Vilma L. Luoma-aho and Mirja E. Makikangas

The public sector worldwide is under pressure to downsize, which has led to mergers of public sector organisations. This paper seeks to bridge the unstudied gap of what…

Abstract

Purpose

The public sector worldwide is under pressure to downsize, which has led to mergers of public sector organisations. This paper seeks to bridge the unstudied gap of what happens to organisational reputation after a merger. The paper discusses change and reputation in the public sector, and reports findings of a longitudinal study on stakeholder assessments of four public sector organisations undergoing mergers recently.

Design/methodology/approach

Following a theory-driven content analysis, this longitudinal study compares stakeholder assessments of four public sector organisations' reputations a year before an organisational merger with assessments of the two resulting organisations' reputations two years after the merger.

Findings

The paper finds that the mergers did not really re-shape reputation, but the once established reputation persevered. Although the organisations faced greater expectations after the merger, only minor changes in reputation were detected post-merger: the reputation for expertise, heavy bureaucracy and trustworthiness remained strong after the merger, but certain traits, such as being international and esteemed, were lost. In both cases, one organisation's prior reputation slightly dominated the new reputation.

Research limitations/implications

The findings may be limited to Finland and other Nordic countries, as well as those countries where trust in the public sector is high.

Practical implications

Mergers may not change once-established reputations, and hence the improvements desired by mergers may go unnoticed by the different stakeholders. Organisations merging must prepare for increased stakeholder expectations, as the new organisations arise questions. Previous organisational traits may remain in stakeholders' assessments despite any achieved improvements.

Originality/value

This paper addresses the gap in studying organisational reputation after public sector mergers, and contributes to both theory and practice by providing insight into the stability of once-established reputations.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2010

Vilma Luoma‐aho and Marita Vos

The purpose of this paper is to suggest that corporate communications is becoming less predictable as interaction with stakeholders is moving from organizational control…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to suggest that corporate communications is becoming less predictable as interaction with stakeholders is moving from organizational control toward “issue arenas”, places of interaction where an issue is discussed by stakeholders and organizations both online and within the traditional media. The role of corporate communications and public relations (PR) is broadening beyond the traditional relationship management to issue arena monitoring.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper takes a theoretical approach with six axioms suggested.

Findings

Several central theories of corporate communications are combined with issues management and stakeholder theory to argue for a multiplicity of new “issue arenas”, which require an increased amount of monitoring. Six axioms are suggested for future research on corporate communications, and a mosaic of multiple strategies for multiple publics moved by multiple issues is recommended.

Research limitations/implications

The axioms suggested require empirical testing with different arenas across contexts and cultures, and the axioms may change over time as the virtual arenas expand. Future studies should focus on the process of arena formation as well as the division of voice on the arenas.

Practical implications

Monitoring becomes central as corporate communication is less controllable. Corporate communication and PR will play a key role in organizational survival in the future through the processes of finding the right issues and “issue arenas” for interaction, facilitating the organization‐public debate and through this managing organizational reputation. A change in thinking is required, as identifying issues should precede identifying stakeholders.

Originality/value

The paper argues that organizational survival depends not only on communicating with the right stakeholders, but also on finding the relevant issue arenas in which organizations should participate in discussion.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 15 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 11 July 2008

Vilma Luoma‐aho

Economic pressures and rising stakeholder expectations have led public sector organisations to measure their reputation. The paper aims to highlight the importance of…

Abstract

Purpose

Economic pressures and rising stakeholder expectations have led public sector organisations to measure their reputation. The paper aims to highlight the importance of reputation for the public sector, define sector reputation and report findings on a quantitative study of sector reputations of four different types of Finnish public sector organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

Inspired by stakeholder theory and the value of organisational reputation, a quantitative survey of stakeholder assessments on reputation was carried out in the 12 organisations from the field of the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in 2003. The organisations represented four sectors: research, authority‐functions, semi‐commercial functions and legislation. Survey data were first analysed with factor analysis to form five reputational factors for public sector organisations. Further analyses were carried out to compare differences between the organisational types and groups of stakeholders (analysis of variance) and to define the part of the different stakeholders (cluster analysis) for sector reputation.

Findings

The paper distinguishes between two major sector reputations: flexible and bureaucratic public sector organisations. Those organisations with more traditional functions (legislation and authority functions) are by reputation labelled bureaucratic, whereas those with more modern functions (research and semi‐commercial functions) are by reputation more flexible. These findings give insight into the strengths and weaknesses in the reputation of different types of public sector organisations, and hence contribute to the body of literature on strategic management of public sector organisations.

Research limitations/implications

Though the concept of sector reputation is universal, the contents of sector reputations are culturally bound. The study was conducted on Finnish public sector organisations, so the results could best be generalised to other Nordic countries. Moreover, reputation is an artificial concept based on stakeholder assessments and perceptions, and does not measure reality as such, though it is associated with stakeholder behaviour.

Practical implications

The results of the paper point toward rather stable, yet specific sector reputations. Knowing the reputational strengths and weaknesses of each type of public sector organisation provides a deeper understanding of how stakeholders perceive different types of organisations, and hence enables suitable allocation of public resources.

Originality/value

The paper will contribute to both theory and practice by addressing the concept of reputation for public sector organisations as well as providing new results on sector reputation. The paper will be of interest to those searching for ways to measure the effectiveness of public sector organisations as well as to those interested in stakeholder relations and strategic management.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

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Book part
Publication date: 11 October 2017

Kaidi Aher and Vilma Luoma-Aho

Change in the public sector appears to be often met with practices borrowed from the private sector. However, implementing private sector practices is challenging (Brown…

Abstract

Change in the public sector appears to be often met with practices borrowed from the private sector. However, implementing private sector practices is challenging (Brown, Waterhouse, & Flynn, 2003), as, for example, the range of stakeholders and their legitimate demands are greater in the public sector (Wæraas & Byrkjeflot, 2012; Leitch & Davenport, 2002), and due to the political nature of affairs, there is more complexity and uncertainty (Sanders & Canel, 2013). In fact, when it comes to change, the public sector can be very different from the private sector due to its often more bureaucratic processes, political nature of decisions and obligations for both transparency and equality.

This chapter focuses on three core areas of organisational change communication: organisational culture, employees and management. The chapter reports findings from a systematic literature review of articles from 1990 to 2016 using thematic analysis in order to answer three research questions: Is change in the public sector different from change in the private sector? What is the perceived role of communication for public sector change efforts? What insights can be found from previous literature about three topics connected with change communication: employees, organisational culture and management?

To begin, we ask whether it is actually true that public sector change differs from private sector change. Then we will examine the results of the literature review on each of these three aspects: (1) organisational culture, (2) public sector employees and (3) change management. We will summarise our findings and will conclude with three propositions for future studies on public sector change communication, which all highlight the rising importance of engagement.

Details

How Strategic Communication Shapes Value and Innovation in Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-716-4

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2014

Marita Vos, Henny Schoemaker and Vilma Liisa Luoma-aho

This paper seeks to contribute to the field of corporate communication by clarifying the theoretical basis of communication in issue arenas and proposing an agenda for…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to contribute to the field of corporate communication by clarifying the theoretical basis of communication in issue arenas and proposing an agenda for research on issue arenas.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on insights from stakeholder thinking, network theory, issues management, and agenda-setting theory, the authors identify different levels of analysis that could explain the behaviour of organisations in the public debate on current issues.

Findings

The organisation-centred approach is replaced by a strong emphasis on interaction in networks of organisations, groups and individuals. Decision-making on communication strategies can be further developed by analysing the particularities of each issue arena, in particular the characteristics of the issue and the actors involved as well as the course of the debate and the communication strategies utilised in stakeholder interaction.

Research limitations/implications

This theoretical approach calls for further research, but offers an agenda and suggests four starting levels for analysis.

Practical implications

This paper provides a timely approach to the analysis of corporate communication that may help understand the complexities of a rapidly changing organisational environment and, ultimately, assist organisations in developing customised communication strategies suited to each issue arena relevant to their operations.

Originality/value

Insights from various theories are brought together to serve as a starting point for the further analysis of communication in issue arenas.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 19 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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