Public Administration in the Reputation Era: A Conceptual Exploration
Staci Zavattaro and Jasper Eshuis
PAQ, Vol. 45 No. 4, 418-438 (2021)
While public administration scholars have studied reputation management for a while, the concept of reputation is coming front and center in governance practices – for better or worse. In this paper, we introduce the Reputation Era, building upon other schemas of understanding administrative development. While reputation management has always been part of public administration, we argue the Reputation Era emerges in a postmodern condition focusing on images and slogans as creators of knowledge, coupled with a digital space that creates instantaneous opportunities to bolster or ruin a reputation. Reputation in this era becomes an input, throughout, output, and outcome rather than only an afterthought. Public values, then, shift in a Reputation Era as cornerstones such as transparency, performance management, and citizen participation, get subsumed into constructing a positive reputation and could lose their mooring to democratic practices if not carefully managed. We offer testable propositions based on our Reputation Era argument.
Key Words: Reputation; Branding; Organization communication; Symbolic policy making
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