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Conceptual frameworks in historical analysis: using reputation as interpretive prism

Conceptual frameworks in historical analysis: using reputation as interpretive prism

Schnee, Christian (2017) Conceptual frameworks in historical analysis: using reputation as interpretive prism. Journal of Management History, 23 (2). pp. 152-169. ISSN 1751-1348 (doi:

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This paper aims to advocate a revised perspective in historical analysis. The author calls for historians to apply the concept of reputation as interpretive lens in the analysis of historical processes and outcomes.

Widely used in management and marketing writing, but also relied upon in political science, the concept of reputation helps predict behaviour of individuals and entities that are bound by political constraints to align their actions to the goal of generating a popular standing. The lens also serves to cast light on the actions engaged in by external stakeholders that are informed by reputational cues. This theoretical contention is illustrated in four case studies resulting from investigations into political decisions and military conflicts, both in the republican and imperial period that ascertain how success and expansion as well as failure and decline of ancient Rome can be viewed and better understood by applying reputation as an instrument to direct and focus historical analysis.

This paper does not only advance complementary angles and alternative answers to issues in ancient Roman history. The cases considered also demonstrate how failure to recognise reputation as a significant concept in historical analysis does not only impair a comprehensive and balanced reflection of personal and organisational stakeholder behaviour but also thwarts a full appreciation of the motivation that drives individual protagonists and institutional agents, whose decisions are central to historical processes and outcomes.

The findings advanced in this paper – informed by four case studies – evidence the need of a new analytical prism in historical enquiry that will define the questions raised and direct the researcher’s attention. It has been shown how the concept of reputation can play a tangible role in sketching out a distinct new angle in historical investigation that leads to reviewing current narrative of past events and phenomena.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Strategy, Reputation, Leadership, Politics, History
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Marketing, Events & Tourism
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2018 12:02

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