Роберт Корзайн, независимый консультант
The reputation, of an individual, company, government entity or country, is not about how it sees itself. We all naturally enough tend to see ourselves in a generally positive light, whether as a person or an organizational entity.
But reputation is actually all about how others see us. For a company or a country, and especially for emerging countries such as Kazakhstan, these perceptions are often colored and distorted by misinformation, prejuidices and simple ignorance.
But why is reputation so important?
First, understanding how others view you as a company or a country has a very real world impact.
In the energy sector, for example, companies are most often judged by investors and the media according to very traditional measures, such as reserves, production rates and profitability. These are the measures that are most often mentioned by financial analysts and business journalists when they
make their "buy, sell or hold" recommendations.
But when you talk to them informally, they generally admit that there is also a "gut feeling" that goes into the calculation, one that can not be quantified on an Excel spreadsheet but which influences their thinking. And that gut feeling is linked directly to reputation.
But it is also linked to every-day business issues. Companies with a positive reputation often enjoy a lower cost of capital, as investors perceive they will have a lower risk.
In a globalised world, potential partners also look at a company's reputation before they enter into negotiations on joint ventures. Increasingly, so too do host governments when they seek new partners.
There is also an internal issue. If employees feel good about their company, and believe their company is doing the "right things," they tend to be far more committed, loyal and productive.
To manage reputation risks, companies and countries have to honestly look themselves in the mirror. In some cases, this can be an internal exercise. In other cases, they will bring in outside consultants to help in the process and conduct a reputation risk audit which lies out all the issues and which offers concrete steps to mitigate the specific risks that have been identified.
But even the best run and most highly regarded companies can be hit by unexpected events. Take BP for example, when an explosion at its Texas City refinery in the US reinvigorated lingering concerns in the media and the international financial community about its safety standards and practices, and which in retrospect triggered the eventual downfall on its chief executive who had earned the record as perhaps the most innovative and effective oil man in recent decades.