Funder perceptions of the dimensions of reputation of a nonprofit expert organization, case: crisis management initiative

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
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International Business Communication
International Business Communication
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The objective of the study was to identify the dimensions of reputation of a Finnish nonprofit expert organization, as perceived by the representatives of its funder organizations. The case organization of the study was Crisis Management Initiative, a Finnish nonprofit promoting and working for sustainable security. The study explored the perceptions of CMI’s funders in order to answer the main research question: “Which are the dimensions that form the reputation of Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), as perceived by the representatives of its present funder organizations?” The source of data in the qualitative single case study carried out consisted of 19 semi-structured interviews conducted among CMI’s present funder organizations. The interviews were conducted in Helsinki and in Brussels in order to get interview data from both locations CMI has an office in. The theoretical framework of the study dealt with the three levels of encounters between an organization and its stakeholders: (1) personal experiences received in face-to-face encounters; (2) stakeholders’ assessments of an organization’s products and services when the organization is not present; and (3) the conceptions the stakeholders hold, images they have received and stories they have heard. The reputation of an organization develops in the minds of the stakeholders during and after such encounters. The eight dimensions of reputation of CMI, as the funders perceive them, were identified in data analysis: visible figurehead, vision, public profile, innovativeness, performance, workplace, transparency and Nordic origin. The fact that CMI is strongly associated with its founder and current Chairman of the Board, President Martti Ahtisaari, was not just one of the dimensions of reputation identified in the study, but also had a strong linkage to several other ones. CMI was considered a forerunner in its field, a professional organization that may be unknown to the general public but is well known to the experts in its field. CMI’s Nordic origins were considered a positive quality, bringing Nordic values and way of working into the organization. However, the interviewees felt CMI has not been able to communicate its long-term vision well enough. The interviewees also felt that the relatively large amount of personnel turnover CMI was experiencing proposed a risk to the continuity of the relationships, which now took place more on a personal level than the organizational one. Some contradictory practices in communication and project planning had also been noted and should, in the future, be avoided. Finally, recommendations on how CMI could, in the future, support the development of its reputation among the funders, were given.
organizational reputation, nonprofit organization, organizational communication, reputation management, reputation measurement, image, stakeholder perceptions
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