Creating Identity and Building Reputation: Public Relations Practices of Small Businesses in an Emerging Field Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Huang, Nell Ching Ling
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media
  • This dissertation explores the identity and reputation management activities of small businesses in an emerging field and investigates the relationship between organizational identity and corporate reputation. The emerging field chosen as a context for this study was nanotechnology. The study employed a mixed-methods approach using interviewing and content analysis methods. First, this study examined how small nanotechnology firms create identity and build reputation. Interviews were conducted with 23 managers at small nanotechnology firms and 14 other persons who work with or are familiar with small nanotechnology firms. Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts found four themes related to identity creation and four themes related to reputation management. Second, this study identified challenges and opportunities the firms face in the process of creating identity and building reputation. Again, using thematic analysis of the interview transcripts, nine themes related to both challenges and opportunities emerged. Third, using a customized values instrument, this study explored the identity-related values the firms expressed in their corporate materials. The computer analysis of the firms' corporate materials found that the five most communicated identity values were helpfulness, ambition, collaboration, innovation, and social recognition. Fourth, the study investigated the reputation of the nanotechnology firms as represented in the news media. Findings showed that some of the nanotechnology firms were more prominent in the news media than others and that all of the firms were often held in high esteem by the news media. Additionally, the firms were most often portrayed as showing prospects for future growth, leading in innovation, having strong leaders and leaders with clear visions for the future, and producing high quality products. In sum, the study explored the relationship between the identity and the reputation of the small nanotechnology firms. Qualitative comparison of the identity values expressed in the corporate materials and the reputation attributes portrayed in the news articles indicate a relationship exists between the identity and the reputation of the firms. Based on the findings, an identity and reputation management model for small firms is proposed. Implications for public relations educators and for small firms in an emerging field are also discussed.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication."
  • Carroll, Craig E.
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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