Reputation Gaps and the performance of service organizations

Gary Davies, Rosa Chun, Michael A. Kamins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Links between the reputation of organizations and their financial performance are intuitively attractive to assume, but often difficult to demonstrate convincingly. Gaps between employee and customer perceptions of corporate reputation have traditionally been associated with poor performance. In the context of service business and applying assimilation-contrast theory, we hypothesize that the nature of such gaps will, in reality, have a differential effect on future revenue depending on the size and valence of the gap. The effects of small gaps should be assimilated by customers, but larger ones have a greater potential of creating a contrast effect resulting in significant increases or decreases in subsequent sales. In businesses where employees have a more positive view of the company reputation than customers, we hypothesize a growth in future sales, and where they have a relatively more negative view, a decline. We test the effects of what we label as reputation gaps in 56 business units drawn from nine service organizations and confirm our hypotheses. Among the implications of our findings are that managing reputation by elevating employee perceptions of a company's reputation above those perceived by its customers holds the potential to enhance future sales. Copyright copy; 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-546
Number of pages16
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Assimilation
  • Contrast
  • Reputation
  • Reputation gaps
  • Sales growth


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