The Company You Keep: How Young Firms in Different Competitive Contexts Signal Reputation Through Their Customers

Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by A. Rebecca Reuber

A. Rebecca Reuber

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Eileen Fischer

York University - Schulich School of Business

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

The issue addressed is: What are the differences, ina competitive context, in how young firms indicate their reputation toprospective customers through their current customers?A theory-buildingmethodology is used to analyze semi-structured qualitative interview datacollected from Canadian CEOs of young firms operating in a variety ofindustries. Four competitive contexts are examined: (1) high-purchasecomplexity/standardized offering; (2) high-purchase complexity/customizedoffering; (3) low-purchase complexity/standardized offering; and (4)low-purchase complexity/customized offering. Conclusions indicate that, foryoung firms, the development of reputation with customers varies considerablyacross competitive contexts. The differing importance that CEOs placed on customer status across thedifferent contexts suggests that having partners or customers with high statusis not always necessary or sufficient for the development of reputation.Reputation signaling through affiliation was found to be not strictly aboutestablishing hierarchical status relative to other companies, but also aboutestablishing "positioning" in the marketplace as the provider ofcertain kinds of products or services to particular customer markets.(JSD)

Keywords: Firm image, Customer affiliations, Startups, Customers, Client relations, Customer relations, Competitive advantages

Suggested Citation

Reuber, A. Rebecca and Fischer, Eileen, The Company You Keep: How Young Firms in Different Competitive Contexts Signal Reputation Through Their Customers (2005). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1506814

A. Rebecca Reuber (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Eileen Fischer

York University - Schulich School of Business ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

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